Aidan remembered the day when four boys had been brought to Lindisfarne. They were four brothers from one family, all in steps and stairs, blond-headed ad fair-skinned, like so many of the Angles. Yet he never quite thought of them as angelic, they were real lads, forever in the rough and tumble of life. Still, from the start they had been keen to learn and anxious to serve. They all had good English names: Cedd, Cynebil, Caelin, and Chad. Their parents were rightly proud of them. Aidan recited their names in the order of their age. Cedd was the oldest and Chad the youngest. They were all young men of promise, though the oldest and the youngest had the most potential.
Aidan’s thoughts turned especially to Chad. He was the most scholarly. To get more teaching he had been sent to Ireland. There he had met quite a few of the famous teachers and learned much from them. The irish monks were extremely generous in being willing to share all they had with any visiting scholars. They would lend them books as well as feed and board them for free. The irish monks were still very necessary and important to the growth of the church and for its scholarship. These lads would go far; who knew, one day one or two of them might become bishops in the church. Aidan knew how important it was for mission to be local. If the church is to grow, its leaders must come from within its own community. Leadership must rise up from within, or the teaching will never truly take root. For any mission in depth it must be from the people of that area, reflecting the same ideas and values. Mission must always aim to grow locally. Such young lives full of promise and wanting to be shaped – what a wonderful gift. They would certainly have an effect on the people around them.
Chad seemed to imitate Aidan more than anyone. More than any of the others, he refused to ride a horse if he could walk. ‘You must keep your feet on the ground, and not place yourself above people’, he would say, in a voice that was a good imitation of Aidan’s. . . .He, like Aidan, walked for mile upon mile, talking to all whom he met on the way.
Drawing from The Little Lives of the Saints
Told by Percy Dearmer
Illustrated by Charles Robinson.
London: Wells Gardner, Darton & Co., 1904.
Chad was always concerned for travellers, especially if a storm arose. . . . On the nearby Farne Islands many ships came to grief. At the first sign of a strong wind, Chad would utter a prayer for travellers. If the wind increased, he would stop whatever he was doing and pray for the whole human race. He was deeply concerned that, if possible, none should come to harm. When a mighty storm arose and there was thunder, Chad would go into the church and pray in cross-vigil. With arms outstretched, he prayed that all would be delivered from destruction, from sin, from death, and from judgement. He would seek to pray as long as the storm raged. Often he came out of such prayers exhausted. If anyone made a comment, he would say, ‘Learn to pray until the tears come. Remember what the Savior suffered for us, and for our salvation.’
This extract is taken from 'Flame of the Heart' by David Adam and is reproduced by kind permission of SPCK. You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Flame-Heart-St-Aidan-Today/dp/0281050333.
To learn more about Chad and his brothers, start here: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Chad_of_Lichfield