‘Aidan, to my way of thinking, was the perfect pastor. Even though he could not speak the language of the people of Northumbria, he found a way to preach. He went around with the king, and the king did the translating and interpreting for him.
There must have been something very compelling about Aidan. He was clearly a man of God and a man of prayer. That was the secret of his evangelising. When reading the lives of Aidan, Paulinus and other monk-bishops, it becomes more and more apparent that these men lived their faith. Their faith was so strong, so deep, that it flowed into their preaching and their actions. We often hear that the cathedrals of medieval England express the story of Christianity in their magnificent statuary and stained-glass windows. In their vaulted ceilings and soaring towers they move people towards God, towards something beyond the daily preoccupations of their lives in the world. The lives of Saints Paulinus and Aidan did the same. There was such a continuity between what they believed and what they preached, and between what they preached and what they lived, that people immediately saw and felt the living presence of God in their midst.
...All of us today are challenged by Aidan’s authenticity and simplicity. Such simplicity of life has two levels: the first is single-mindedness, being so concentrated on God and serving him that other things are subordinate to that; the second level is simplicity of life-style, trying to live lives of material simplicity. This what speaks to people outside the Church. As Paul VI says, “Modern man listens more readily to witnesses than to teachers; if they listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses”.
Aidan died in 651, near Bamburgh, having spent sixteen years working for the conversion of Northumbria to Christianity. When Aidan first arrived in Northumbria, little remained of Paulinus’ endeavours. However, during the years of Aidan’s mission, Lindisfarne was firmly established as a monastery from which monks were sent out to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. Lindisfarne became, then, not only a centre for its community of monks, but also a centre for the spiritual life of Northumbria’.
from Footprints of the Northern Saints, 1996 by Basil, Cardinal Hume OSB OM, 1923-1999
O everlasting God, who didst send thy gentle Bishop Aidan to proclaim the Gospel in Britain: grant that, aided by his prayers, we may live after his teaching in simplicity, humility, and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Saint Aidan, Bishop, and the Saints of Lindisfarne, from Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon