Archive for September, 2013

On Visiting Aghaboe Abbey – and some Spiritual Analogies

September 24, 2013



During the late summer, when driving in the Durrow/Abbeyleix area, we encountered the ancient “Aghaboe Abbey,” in the tiny hamlet of Agahaboe in County Laois. Founded in around 577AD, the abbey was plundered by Norsemen in AD913 and has seen many other historical dramas over the years.

The blue sky turned a depressing shade of grey over the grey stones of the ruins, the graveyard and the church, but something told me that we should stop there to walk through that graveyard and for some reason I felt that I should bring some tracts with me…

As we walked along the path which led through the graveyard to the church, we noted with interest that all the names on the graves to the left hand side were of Anglo Saxon/Protestant origin, while those on the right were of traditional Irish/Roman Catholic origin.

Then I noticed a lady stooped over, vigorously cleaning the marble surrounds on her deceased relatives’ graves until they shone. No one else was in that graveyard but that lady and my husband and I and soon we were engaged in conversation with her. She was a friendly soul and as we talked for just a short time, she thankfully received the literature that I gave her. We talked of the names on the graves and she told us that she was the last person alive to bear her unusual surname in the area in which she lived. I thought of that lady later and I still pray for her.

Sauntering through a narrow entry which led into the ruins of the abbey, I thought, too, on those verses in Matthew 7, verses 13&14: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”

On entering the grounds of the ruins, I discovered that many famous people had visited the abbey and their names had been inscribed there to celebrate those special visits… Jakob Mayr, Bishop of Salzburg, 1984; President Mary McAleese, 1998; the Austrian ambassador, Dr. Paul Leifer, 2001…

I thought, too, of its founder, ‘St. Canice’ and the many other famous people who had associations with the abbey and then I thought on that verse in Revelation 20v12… “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” God is no respecter of persons.

He has no interest in how well known you or I may be in this world, or in the origins of our names… His only concern is that those names of ours be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  

I looked again at the graves and the great tombs, some of them hundreds of years old and as I walked, I knew that I was most likely walking on graves which had been hidden and buried over time, for this was a very old graveyard. But as I looked across, beyond the graveyard I saw what looked like an even older burial ground – that mound which is typical of megalithic tombs.

Yes, “one day is with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” (2Peter 3v8) but one thing is for sure… my Lord is returning soon. Those graves and those tombstones will be opened and “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1Thessalonians 4v16&17

I saw, too, the graves of very young children who would not have reached the age of understanding.

But what of those who do not know the Lord? The terrifying thought that those souls would be condemned to such an unspeakable eternity…

But it is not the Lord’s will that any should perish and it is His will that those who know Him should reach others as long as the Lord gives them life and breath. Even if we have no stamina left and our bodies worn out – we can pray, which is a most essential element of soul winning.

 As we drove away from that ancient place, I noticed huge transformers bearing electricity across the countryside. If one of those transformers were to fail – it would cause enormous problems for the rest and a blackout may ensue. As Christians, we bear the Word of God to hungry souls and like each transformer we have a fearful responsibility to the souls we encounter in each of our unique paths through life.






The Faith Mission Convention, Durrow 2013 – and David and Goliath!

September 7, 2013


At the recent Faith Mission Convention in Durrow I was interested to learn that the above models of ‘David and Goliath’ won a prize in a local competition. Goliath, it has been said, was around ten foot tall, while David was just a youth, considerably less in stature. What a formidable sight Goliath would have seemed to the average person! But young David was not an average person, in spiritual terms, for he saw beyond the mere mortal man who stood before him. Boldly he confronted Goliath with these words: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied.” (1Samuel 17v45)

In many ways these are formidable days, too, in which we live. In 1Peter 5v8 we are advised to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.”

As David resisted Goliath, he did not put his trust in the weapons of this world – but rather his confidence was rooted in deep personal faith in the Lord God of Israel.

At the sight of these models of David and Goliath, I was reminded of a little poem which I wrote a long time ago now. This was based on the words of Moses in Exodus 14v14: “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace;” David’s words in 1Samuel 17v47: “And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord, and he will give you unto our hands;” The words of Jahaziel in 2Chronicles 20v15…”for the battle is not yours, but God’s;” David’s words in Psalm 20v7: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of Lord our God;” in Isaiah 54v17 we learn that “no weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”

Finally, I base the little verse on these words from 1Corinthians 1v27-31… “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

As we go into battle resisting the wiles of the evil one, we must put on the whole armour of God, (Ephesians 6v13) “that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand…”

Surely the strongest, most seemingly confident person in the world has lost the battle already if he is not clad with the spiritual armour that counts?



If The Battle Is The Lord’s…?


If the battle is the Lord’s

Then what have we to fear?

Cast off thine heavy armour-

He saveth not with sword or spear!


The Lord shall fight for you,

And ye shall hold your peace,

Though chariots pursue

And enemies increase!


For He hath chosen the weak,

And that which men despise,

To bring to naught the mighty,

To confound the great and wise!


© Elizabeth Burke.