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Your Eminence,

Reverend and Venerable Fathers,

Reverend Mothers,

Beloved Pilgrims,

Today is a day of extraordinary grace and heavenly blessing, as we commemorate the Saints of Romania (for those who are in the homeland), and also all the Celtic Saints (for those among us who are pilgrims on these hallowed grounds sanctified by the blood of the first martyrs).We have consecrated today the altar of this church dedicated to Saint Ninian, the bishop of Whithorn (+ 432). First and foremost, I bring to your hearts the paternal blessing and prayerful thoughts of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, by whose mandate and blessing we have consecrated this holy altar today.

This altar is dedicated to Saint Ninian, who was himself a bishop and confessor, the first apostle to preach in Scotland. The earliest accounts of his life can be found in „The Ecclesiastical History of the English People” by Saint Bede, the Venerable. It is known that St. Ninian established a monastery at Whithorn, which became famous as a training school for monks within a century of his death. His apostolic work among the picts bore great fruit and blessings. St. Patrick, the enlightener of Ireland, mentions in his letter to Coroticus the conversions made by St. Ninian in Scotland, and other references are found in the writings of St. Columba of Iona, who protects our monastery on the island where he lived, as well as St. Kentigern.

Today is truly a special day, as we renew the divine grace here, where the first Celtic monks gave their lives for the lives of others. Monasticism is a profound mystery, as monks gather the sorrow and pain of the world, transforming it through deep prayer, showing it renewed in salvific grace. This is the miracle: monks, they collect pain and bring grace, they gather sorrow and bring joy. Each monk carries a bag of stars, from which they scatter the seeds of grace everywhere — stars that bring light and grace into the world. Each world begins from a mysterious hermitage. Especially at night, when they pray, they sow stars of grace, and those enveloped in sorrow receive these rays of light, feeling an indescribable joy. They receive forgiveness of sins, healing, comfort, consolation, life, and resurrection — a true miracle bringing an immense joy.

Here, at the edge of a continent, at the margin of a world where ocean waters intertwine with the tears of repentance, a new, yet ancient monastery has been reborn today, in fact, two monasteries on two islands embracing each other in a loving embrace that brings deliverance — a joy beyond words. This miracle lies in the prayers of the Celtic saints we honor today. They knew how to sow the seed of Christianity on the blessed soil of Britain, giving their lives like the grain of wheat that falls into the ground and brings forth much fruit, but only after it dies, for otherwise, it cannot bear fruit. A death that brings and gives life — this is what the monks did; they died before dying, so that they would never die again but live eternally in and with Christ our Lord. How much we wish to die before our death, to taste only of the Resurrection and not the death, and today is indeed that mystical an the so wished day — by worshipping this new and holy altar, we taste already the real Resurrection.

Today is a day of Easter because the consecration of a new altar is nothing less than a mystical baptism of a church, tasting of death (the pain of sacrificial people), but bringing life (the mysterious Resurrection). We have truly baptized an altar that will become for us all a new Paradise, from which springs (this time) not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, through which we fell in Paradise, but the new tree of life, which rises from the pierced side of our Savior Jesus Christ, none other than from the Holy Cross, from where our salvation comes. Here we understand something profound — monks are the first to understand that only by embracing the cross can they truly become fountains of salvific grace. They are the ones who transform the pain and suffering of this world, through the mystery of the Cross, into blessing and life-giving grace.

Everyone who drinks from this spring of life and grace brings forth much fruit, as the blessed monks from these islands have, and the mystery continues — it does not stop here. Souls ravaged by pain, people who have not known the sweetness of grace, hearts crushed by injustice and suffering find comfort here, at the end of an old world but at the beginning of a new one — not only at St. Ninian’s spring but at the life-giving source of grace that is the life in and for Christ our Lord.

Glory and thanks be to the Lord, our God, for all the gifts poured upon us today, for He is truly our Resurrection, Life, and Salvation forever, Amen.

† Athanasius of Bogdania

 

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