This was a really great introduction to Celtic thought and interpretation of the Bible. Definitely a keeper!
Grounded in the physical world, enlarged by the “runes” (symbolic), and applied by the imagination.
Charlestown State Park, Trail 2
Sept 29, 2018
A little while ago, I wrote a post on the Iona Community and their Rule of Life. You can find it here. My church is spending a year exploring Celtic spirituality and worship renewal. We had an author/speaker come last week and he introduced us to The Community of Aiden and Hilda (here in the States, but also the UK group).
This community’s principles resonate with me. It is a small group here in the States, but there are opportunities for conversation and community that are much closer to home. There is a FB group, they hold retreats, and lots of ways to be connected. It is also part of a larger global (UK based) group.
Since it is a dispersed group it relies on the use of a “soul friend” which is someone you choose to hold you accountable to your Rule of Life. The three principles or vows are: Simplicity, Chastity & Obedience. I’m summing these up as I currently understand them . . . I’m also praying about whether this is a good fit for me. I have my church home, my spiritual companion group, and I think this just might fill the niche of accountability in all the areas I have been wondering about. It is definitely something to continue to think and pray about.
- Simplicity is being willing to be rich or poor (as God directs) and not give in to the temptation to be greedy, possessive, or to manipulate creation and others in order to move from poor to rich or rich to poor — in other words, be content where you are and with what you have.
- Chastity is accepting the totality of our being (and others being), maintaining purity in marriage or a call to singleness. Respecting both marriage and singleness.
- Obedience is a joyful longing to follow God. It is respect for those he has placed in authority over us.
There are 10 Elements of the Way of Life:
- Study and Application . . . daily Bible reading, study the history of the Celtic church, saints and feast days, study of desert fathers and mothers — But not just an intellectual exercise, but to learn how to live.
- The Soul Friend . . . meet at least twice a year, regular retreats and pilgrimage.
- Daily rhythm of prayer, work and rest . . .daily office & prayer, engage in productive work which does not conflict with the Way of Life, and holy rest and recreation.
- Intercessory Prayer . . . “storming the gates of heaven”
- Simplicity of Lifestyle . . . live simply that others may simply live (income, savings, possessions, being a steward not a possessor), simple beauty of creation, all things ordered to liberate rather than overload and clutter the soul, times of feasting and fasting, hospitality and generosity.
- Care for creation . . . ecologically aware, pray for creation and creatures, stand against all that would violate and destroy.
- Wholeness Not Fragmentation . . . not self-sufficient and autonomous.
- Openness to the Spirit . . . “put to sea in a coracle”, learning to listen, cultivate interior silence and respond to the promptings of God, widen our horizons.
- Unity and Community. . . all fellow Christians as “pilgrims together.” cultivate a solidarity, shed attitudes and practices that divide people by class, color & creed, repent of our own part in these divisions.
- Mission . . . “The goal of the way of life is to develop a disciplined spirituality that will make us effective in our witness to Christ in the world.” “Our mission also includes speaking out for the poor, the powerless and those unjustly treated in our society, and to minister with them as God directs.”
For many years I have been interested in a more Celtic expression of Christianity. I believe it fits well within the Anglican tradition where I have found my home. There are many aspects which speak to me: a focus on creation, a deeply held Trinitarian thought, and a life of prayer. These things are not exclusive to the Celtic expression of faith, but I find them easiest to incorporate into my life within this circle.
The Iona Community has a Rule of Life that I really like:
As Members of the Iona Community we commit ourselves to:
Daily prayer, worship with others and regular engagement with the Bible and other material which nourishes us
Working for justice and peace, wholeness and reconciliation in our localities, society and the whole creation
Supporting one another in prayer and by meeting, communicating, and accounting with one another for the use of our gifts, money and time, our use of the earth’s resources and our keeping of all aspects of the Rule.
Sharing in the corporate life and organisation of the Community
I’ve adopted it as my own for the past several years. I haven’t done anything formal with the community, I just adapted it to my present situation and my own parish.
Daily Prayer, Worship with Others, and Regular Engagement:
- The Book of Common Prayer makes this very easy. Laud, Sext, Vespers, and Compline are all easy to memorize and are meaningful. Initially I set up alarms on my phone to help me to remember to take time to do each.
- I attend corporate worship as often as I am able (and this is wholly dependent on being able to arrange a ride since I can no longer see well enough to drive myself) and each worship service includes the Eucharist.
- I use the Bible texts as set out in the BCP for daily reading. I always get in the Psalms and usually the Gospel text. I also try to have at least two other books to read each day (in addition to my German reading book): usually non-fiction during the day and fiction in the evening.
Working for justice and peace, wholeness and reconciliation:
- Weekly phone calls and letter writing to my Members of Congress. This often feels like ramming my head into a brick wall, but it must be done.
- I have three primary organizations that I follow for guidance on the issues
- EPPN (Episcopal Public Policy Network)
- Green Anglicans
- NAA and ASI (National Autism Association and Autism Society of IN) — Justice, Reconciliation & Wholeness
Supporting one another, being accountable for my gifts, time, money, and use of the Earth’s resources:
- I have my Spiritual Companion Group that meets twice a month — which is a lovely opportunity to check in with others and then share thoughts on the book we are reading together.
- I don’t have a good way to be accountable for my gifts, time, money, and use of the earth’s resources. I’m thinking about adding a monthly post to be my accountability until I find a person/group for this.
Part 2 of the book notes
Celts, even before migrating to Gaul and the British Isles, highlight devotion to nature and a world inhabited by Spirits.
- The Greeks called them “mysterious neighbors” who preferred living in natural environments rather than urban cities.
- a sacredness to everyday place
- a great sense of imagination
- seasonal rhythms (Nov 1 = new year, Feb 1 = spring, time for planting)
- God + humanity + earth = a trinity of social interaction
- divine harmony — no split between matter and spirit
- “this=ness” of each animal — glorifying God in the dogness of a dog
- “this-ness” of hills, woods, grasses, waters
- thin place = where the “this-ness” collapses and heaven and earth are 3 feet part.
- groves of trees
- stone walls
- springs of water
- island, peaks, cliffs, valleys
- Rhythms of 3
- shamrock — 3 leaves, yet 1 shamrock
- 3 splashes/drops of water
- love for neighbor, friend, and foe
- “to save, to shield, to surround” the household
- Celtic Knot
- timeless nature
- spiritual and physical, birth and rebirth
- closed path = eternity, ever-present love of God
- the “zen” of doodles
- Not creation entered, but creation filled: “Our vocation is not simply to be, but to work together with God in the creation of our own life, our own identity, and our our destiny.”
- intelligence, not learning or education, to understand art
- work against ugliness by resorting beauty.
- Welsh poetry–a striking sense that God’s grace is present and at work now, evident in the diversity and richness of creation, and in the way in which apparent opposites belong together and are at one.
- Creation and redemption are one. Together they are the outpouring of a loving God.
Thomas Merton and the Celts
A New World Opening Up
By Monica Weis
Part 1 of the book notes
Definition and areas of overlap:
- desert saints
Imagination fosters a distinctive way of seeing:
- here and there
- natural and spiritual
- embraces a unity of natural (here) and spiritual (there)
- landscape reveals the many faces of God
- the “everywhere” God
- John S Eriugena (C815-877) — God created all out of his essence therefore the world is a theophany
- God’s presence makes the world
- Holy “now moment”
Main Character of Celtic spirituality:
- doctrine of creation (essential goodness)
- doctrine of redemption (Christ is love incarnate)
- Held with vigor and clarity –> Christ the Word
Anamhara — soul friend, guide, not a mentor
A Celt is a entholiguist tribal society (societies) in central Europe during the Iron Age that migrated to the British Isles, southern France, Iberian Peninsula, and northern Italy.
- the value of place
- the value of tribe
- the value of people
- (i.e.: It is the Welsh in me that counts, page 12)
- (leads to environmental responsibility as we learn the value of place)
Eremitic vs Centobitic Monasteries:
- eremitic — hermit monasticism (like St. Antony, 251-356), prayer work, spiritual work, reading
- cenobitic — community living, communal, charity, humility, obedience, full spiritual lives. Village model, creation centered.
- In Wales (Scotland and Ireland) when a chieftain became Christian, often the whole tribe became monks and the village became a monastery of sorts.
- see Skellig Michael, Bangor, Derry, Durrow, Kildare, Clonfekt, Kells, etc
- Iona and Lindisfarne both set up as village models.\
- Celtic monasticism focused on allegiance to Abbot contrasted with Roman monasticism which focused on allegiance to Pope.
- Whitby was
- bishop vs abbot
- date of easter
- ACCD to Esther de Waal– not cataclysmic but local, took a long time to trickle down to all areas of “Celtic lands”
**Merton’s focus is on formation not information **
Celtic pilgrim: holy and insatiable curiosity, simplicity, practicality, tremendous endurance
- gentle way of life
- sanctity and sweetness of life
- significance of soul-friend
- 3 labors of the day
- immediacy of the moment
- integrity of the spiritual
- life purified from materialism in simple communion with nature
- a different way of seeing
- peregrination — setting off on foot or in a small boat without a goal or destination, to discover the place of one’s resurrection
- journey metaphor is deeply embedded in the human experience
- divine comedy
- Canterbury tales
- trasana — the crossing place, the divide, the challenge, between the familiar and the unknown
- ethnic sense of romance and the lore of an ancient wonder-adventure
- Phases of
- the longing
- the call
- the departure
- the pilgrim’s way
- the labyrinth
- the arrival
- the bringing back of a “boon”
- the new self-knowledge
- the transformed self
- The Voyage of Brendan
- all creation is holy and everything is sacred because it is the very outpouring of God’s love.
How does one live out of a transfigured center?
- cycles of time that revolve around the church calendar (and nature’s cycles)
- spiritual creativity
- travel (= aesceticism and discipline)
- reckoning (=constantly watching so you stay on course)
- constant care of vessel
- See hymn — Be Thou My Vision
- If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep walking
- The earth, paradise, because we know in our inmost hearts that the earth was given to us in order that we may find meaning, order, truth, and salvation in it.
Vital Worship Conference: June 19-21, Grand Rapids Michigan
Weather: Day 84, Night 57, Partly cloudy, but no rain.
Dress — “comfortable”
Travel Tuesday early morning and Thursday evening
Conference Tuesday afternoon to Thursday after lunch, opportunities to walk in nature preserve, walking between buildings
- Wear: shirt, pants, cardigan & loafers
- In Roller Bag:
- 2 shirts, 1 pair pants, 1 jacket
- Underwear/bras/socks — sports sandals
- 311: face cleaner, face cream, lotion, BB cream, lipgloss, tide stick, contacts + solution, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm
- spiff kit: comb, emery board, Rx+supplements, toothbrush, wipes for glasses, small travel first aid pouch, sanitizer wipes, alarm clock, flashlight, phone charger + stand
- food bag: protein shake packets, trail mix, chocolate bar
- pen + journal + conference notebook
- Purse: Wallet, glasses/sunglasses, and water bottle
The Way of the Heart: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
by Henri Nouwen
“Arsenius, flee from the world, be silent, pray always . . ”
Solitude — Silence — Prayer :: a summary of the spirituality of the desert.
- the furnace of transformation
- Temptations that face
- to be relevant
- to be spectacular
- to be powerful
- The very first thing we need to do is set apart a time and place to be with God.
- Silence is the way to make solitude a reality.
- Silence makes us pilgrims.
- Silence guards the fire (Holy Spirit) within.
- Silence teaches us to speak.
- We speak a great deal, but what good does it really do.
- “wordy unbelief”
- A word with power comes out of silence. A word that bears fruit comes out of silence.
- Divine silence in which love rests secure.
- . . . how to keep them from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence.”
- Pray always . . . solitude and silence are never separate from prayer. They create space for prayer.
- Hesychia — the rest which flows from unceasing prayer.
- Prayer isn’t just talking to God or thinking about God.
- Hesychastic Prayer:
- prayer of the heart
- to descend with the mind into the heart and stand before the face of God
- Heart = the source of all energies: impulses, feelings, mood, wishes, perception, understanding, will, plans, decision, PERSONALITY
- Hide Nothing :: Surrender All
- Happy are the pure in heart: they shall see God
- Prayer — simple, unceasing, all-inclusive.