The Mystical Voyage of St. Brendan – Part 17.
The Island of Strong Men
After many weeks at sea, Saint Brendan and his seafaring monks came upon an island that was flat and full of fruit trees. After prayer, the abbot predicted that it would be on this island that the one remaining latecomer to his voyage would stay.
This was a holy place of connection and spiritual movement. Three choirs of anchorites, which are monks or nuns who have vowed to live a life away from the rest of the world, roamed the island. Each choir represented one phase of physical life, young boys, young men, and old men; each singing the liturgy of the hours at intervals throughout the day.
There was fruit on this island that yielded much wine, so much so that a single fruit afforded one brother with the constant taste of honey in his mouth for twelve days. The Island of Strong Men was not inhabited by burly warriors, but by meek and yet immensely powerful brothers who ceaselessly worked in unison, with the good of the whole before their eyes at all times.
Imagine combining our love and devotion in one mystical body, acting in a most beautiful symbiosis––a true community of the Beloved––distinguished only by our separate voices. Those voices, when lifted up together, become a divine polyphony which yields to nothing, and conquers the darkness and fear of separation and ignorance. This harmony is the song of the Most High, which gives all things substance. This music, along with the love that is shared through its harmony, is the foundation of this and every universe.
These choirs seem to me to be in a most blessed state of being, and one that is very near to the fullness which we crave as seekers of the knowledge and experience of God. And so, St. Brendan rightfully congratulated and blessed the latecomer who was chosen to stay on the Island of Strong Men. He left his brother in the joyful hope that love would never truly allow their separation.
It occurs to me that this mysterious island is a symbol of the Eucharistic manifestation of the True Body. May it be for us a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
(Above image: La Vocation de Saint-François, Alphonse Legros, 1861)