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    On the Contrary Workings of Nature and Grace  [IX]

    Grace therefore teaches us how the senses are to be disciplined and
    vain complacency avoided; how anything likely to excite praise and
    admiration should be humbly concealed; and how in all things and in
    all knowledge some useful fruit should be sought, together with the
    praise and honour of God. She wants no praise for herself or her
    doings, but desires that God may be blessed in His gifts, who out of
    pure love bestows all things.
    --Thomas à Kempis --Imitation of Christ Bk 3 Ch 54

    March 8th - St. Senan, Bishop
    Also known as
    Senan of Scattery
    Senames of Inis Cathaigh

    8 March
    6 January as one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland

    d. 560
    St. SENAN of Scattery Island (Inis Cathaigh) was the most celebrated
    of the twenty-two saints who, according to Colgan, bore the name of
    Senan, and some of the episodes recorded in his life and certain of
    the miracles with which he is credited may well have belonged
    originally to one or other of his less well known namesakes. Senan
    came of Christian parents in Munster, and the legends, as is often the
    case, lay stress upon his youthful precocity. We are told that when he
    was out with his mother and she began to pluck and to eat some
    berries, the child gently reproved her for eating between meals. On
    another occasion, when the family was moving home elsewhere, Senan was
    told to get the house ready by arranging the furniture and cooking
    utensils in their place. Absorbed in prayer he neglected to do so, and
    was scolded by his mother. The boy told her to trust in God who would
    repair his negligence, and immediately the pots and pans shot up to
    their places on the shelves and the furniture began to move
    automatically into position—to the great edification of all present.

    After some time as a fighting-man Senan determined to enter upon the
    religious life. He therefore betook himself to a holy abbot called
    Cassidus, who trained him in monastic discipline. After a time the
    abbot was told in a vision to send his young disciple to St. Natalis,
    abbot of Kilmanagh in Ossory. In his new home St. Senan was soon
    distinguished for his piety and docility as well as for many
    remark­able miracles. One day he was sent to mind a herd of cows, and,
    in order that the abbey might have enough milk, he sought to prevent
    the calves from having access to the cows. At first he was
    unsuccessful; but when he laid his staff on the ground between them
    and retired to pray, the animals were unable to cross the barrier. On
    another occasion he was working at the mill, and, as it was growing
    dark, he asked the cook for some candles. He replied that he had none
    for the moment, but ex­pected soon to have some ready. As Senan did
    not return to him for a week, the cook was curious to know how he had
    managed without candles or whether he was neglecting his work. He
    therefore peeped through the mill-door and was amazed to see the
    millstones working automatically, whilst the saint was reading in a
    corner by the light of a candle which the cook recognized as being the
    last one which he himself had supplied.

    These and similar wonders spread Senan’s fame, and multitudes flocked
    to him to be healed, to ask his prayers and to be instructed. Natalis
    decided that he was now fit to be placed over others, but when Senan
    asked where he was to go, Natalis replied that such direction must be
    sought from God. St. Senan started out towards East Leinster, and was
    directed by an angel to a place called Inis Conerthe, which is
    probably identical with the present Enniscorthy. After some time spent
    there, the saint journeyed to Rome, from which he returned through
    France, England and Wales. He appears to have stayed with St. David,
    and we are told that when they parted David presented his friend with
    his staff, which St. Senan brought back to Ireland.

    Landing on a small island off the coast of Leinster, he was warned by
    an angel that this was not the place where he could rest and be
    buried, but that he must go on and build many cells and churches to
    God’s glory and must do much to promote the increase of monastic
    discipline in Ireland before he could settle down. Accordingly he made
    a foundation at Inishcarra, near Cork (where he was joined by some
    Italian monks), and others elsewhere. At length he was -told that the
    time had come for him to choose his final retreat. From the summit of
    Mount Tese an angel pointed out Arnanaingel, the Hill of the Angels,
    rising up in the distance, in the estuary of the Shannon, and promised
    not only that he and his monks should possess the island on which it
    stood, but also that other holy men should succeed them there. This
    piece of land, which is now called Scattery Island, lies south of
    Kilrush Quay, and contains a round tower which local tradition
    attributes to St. Senan, and also a small church of St. Senan, part of
    which is of great antiquity. Accompanied by the angel, the saint
    afterwards made a circuit of the island, and when he saw the waves
    dashing against the cliffs, he criticized the place as being too
    exposed, but the angel gave him the assurance that none of his monks
    would be drowned when crossing the water in obedience to their

    The monastery soon became famous and many men came there, but it was
    St. Senan’s rule that no woman should be allowed to land on the
    island. Legend, however, relates that St. Cannera, knowing she was
    about to die, greatly desired to receive viaticum and to be buried
    there. An angel brought her across the water, but on the shore she was
    met by Senan, who refused to allow her to proceed. If Christ will
    receive my soul, why should you reject thy body?” she asked. “ That is true,” replied St. Senan, “but for all that, I will not allow you to
    come here go back and do not plague us. You may be pure in soul . . .
    but you are a woman.”—“I will die before I go back”, retorted St. Cannera and she gained her point, for she died on the shore and was
    buried on the island.

    At some period of his life, St. Senan appears to have been consecrated
    a bishop but the chroniclers do not say when or where. As his last
    hour was approaching, the holy man was moved to revisit the monastery
    of St. Cassidus and the nunnery of St. Scotia, his aunt. On his return
    journey, in a field at Killeochailli, he heard a voice saying, “Senan, servant of God, thou art called to Heaven”, and that very day he
    passed away. His monks brought his body back to Iniscattery. According
    to another legend, he was restored to life for a short time and sat up
    in his coffin to nominate his successor and to deliver a long
    discourse to the assembled monks, who were not unnaturally much
    impressed by what they had seen and heard.

    The documents printed by Colgan in his Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae and
    thence re-edited by the Bollandists (March, vol. i) seem substantially
    to exhaust the available material for the life of St. Senan. There is
    an Irish life preserved in the Book of Lismore and one or two other manuscripts; it has been edited by Whitley Stokes in the Anecdota
    Oxoniensia (1890) and Colgan gives an abbreviated Latin translation of
    it. For his cultus in Cornwall see G. H. Doble, Saint Senan, Patron of
    Sennen (1928); but this may be another man. See also Gleeson in the
    North Munster Antiquarian Journal, 1940, pp. 14-30; and Analecta
    Bollandiana, vol. lxvi (1948), pp. 199-230. St. Senan has a
    commemoration today throughout Ireland.

    Saint Quote:
    Live in the world as if only God and your soul were in it; then your
    heart will never be made captive by any earthly thing.
    -- Saint John of the Cross

    Bible Quote:
    Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy
    people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.
    (Leviticus 19:18)

    Saint Anselm of Canterbury Shows How Sin Enslaves Man

    On another occasion, he saw a boy playing with a little bird by the
    roadside. The bird had its foot tied to a string, and now and then,
    when it was allowed a little freedom, it tried to fly away, hoping to
    succour itself by flight. But the boy holding the string pulled it
    back and brought it down beside him. This gave him enormous pleasure,
    and he did it again and again. When the Father saw this, he was sorry
    for the wretched bird, and hoped that it would break the string and
    regain its freedom. And suddenly the string did break; the bird flew
    off: the boy wept; and the Father rejoiced. Then he called to us and
    said “Did you notice the game the boy was playing? When we admitted
    that we had done so, he said “Consider likewise how the devil plays
    with many men, whom he catches in his toils and drags into various
    vices at his pleasure. For instance some men are consumed by the
    flames of avarice or lust or such-like things, and are chained to them
    by evil habit. Sometimes it happens to them that, when they consider
    what they are doing, they weep over it and promise themselves that
    they will leave off such things in the future. So, like the bird, they
    think they can fly away free. But, being enmeshed by evil habits, they
    are held by the enemy, who pulls them back into the same vices, as
    they fly away. This happens time and again, and they are never
    entirely set free unless, by a great effort and by the operation of
    God’s grace, the cord of evil custom is broken.

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