Monday, August 31, 2009

Aidan of Lindisfarne (? - 651)

Aidan Gives Away A Horse

Aidan loved to talk to the Angles about Jesus. He would not ride a horse. He felt it deprived him of opportunities to share about Christ while he traveled. It was easier to talk to people, he reasoned, when you were on their level.

One time King Oswin of the Angles gave Aidan an expensive horse. Aidan had not ridden very far before he gave the horse away to a poor person. The King was angry with Aidan for doing this. Aidan asked the King if a horse was more important to him than one for whom Christ had died. The King, who was a Christian, repented and asked Aidan's forgiveness.

check out Aidan's thumnail Lving Water bio

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Monasticisim (part 2) Cloisters and Communities

Two types of models arose out of the Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian deserts. Hermetic ( cloister) and monastic (community).

Anthony of Egypt a hermit, is a prime example of the cloister style. He helped and encouraged others who came out into the desert, yet never organized a monastery.

They would live as hermits in separate locations yet gather together for prayer, work and encouragement. There was no hard and fast rule. Each person was encouraged to developed their own. Simplicity, labor, hospitality and contemplation centered in a life of loving God and others were the guiding values. This was the Hermetic or costlier model.

At the same time groups of people began living together in the same place to pursue the ascetic life. These communities were centered around common prayer, common meals and common labor. Initially as in the hermetic model each person was encouraged to develop a rule. Eventually each community established a common rule ( guiding set of principles) to be adhered to by all participants. This became the monastic or community model.

In both models rhythm and charity were key components.

see monasticism part 1

Photo: Excavated monastic cells at the desert settlement of Pherme, Western Nile Delta, Egypt

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Deep Peace to You

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.

a Gaelic Blessing

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Desert Wisdom (2)

An old man and a brother led their life together. Now the old man was charitable. It happened that there was a famine and the people came to his door seeking alms, and in charity the old man gave to all who came. Seeing what was happening, the brother said to the old man, "Give me my share of the loaves, and do what you like with yours." The old man divided the loaves and gave alms from his share.

Now many people hastened to the old man, learning that he supplied everyone, and God -- seeing that he supplied everyone -- blessed these loaves. But when the brother had consumed his own food he said to the old man, "Since I have only a little food left, Abba, take me back into the common life again." The old man said, "I will do as you wish." So they began to again to live in common. When scarcity came again, the needy came back seeking alms.

Now one day the brother came in and saw they were short of loaves. A poor man came, and the old man told the brother to give him alms. He said, "It is no longer possible, father." The old man said to him, "Go in and look." The brother went inside and found the bin full of loaves. When he saw that, he was filled with fear, and taking some he gave to the poor. In this way he learned the faith and virtue of the old man, and he gave glory to God

from "The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers," by Benedicta Ward, (Oxford: SLG Press, 1985), p. 42

Desert wisdom is antidots, stories and parables of the desert mothers and fathers

Thursday, August 20, 2009

King Oswin of Deira (?- 651)

Oswin of Deira (died 651 AD) is buried at Tynemouth Priory

"King Oswin was of a goodly countenance, and tall of stature, pleasant in discourse, and courteous in behaviour; and bountiful to all, gentle and simple alike; so that he was beloved by all men for the royal dignity of his mind and appearance and actions, and men of the highest rank came from almost all provinces to serve him. Among all the graces of virtue and moderation by which he was distinguished and, if I may say so, blessed in a special manner, humility is said to have been the greatest, which it will suffice to prove by one instance."

writes Bede of Oswin

also see the Living Water thumbnail bio of Oswin of Deira

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mystery of the Mundane (part 3) the sacred in the common place

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.


Mundane: common place
God is found in the common places. He walked in the cool of the day. He was found in the still small voice. He rides on the wings of the wind. His glory is etched in the drifting clouds above. Present in the fragrance of a flower.

The mundane moments of daily life are ripe with His presence, doing the dishes, driving to work, nursing the baby, waiting on tables, walking in the woods. The Celtic culture nurtured and facilitated a sacrimental approach to life. Not only recognizing but expecting Gods presence in the ordinary routine of life.

The Celt's recognized and celibrated the sacred in the common place. They anticipated and invited the presence into everyday activities such as setting the fireplace, milking the cow, churning the butter, ploughing the fields.

"I AM smooring the fireAs the Son of Mary would smoor Blest be the house, blest be the fire, Blest be the people all." (a blessing for preparing the night hearth)

"The guarding of God and the Lord be yours... Travelling meads long and grassy...Be the bright Michael king of the angels Protecting, and keeping, and saving you." ( a portion herders prayer)
When we begin to recognize and acknowledge the presence in our mundane daily activities, we then begin to take off our shoes in the presence of every common bush a fire with God. All activities become sacred and sacrimental, all ground holy. Every moment becomes preganant with possibillity and a live with wonder. The simpilist common activities can become "spirititual practices'.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Claire of Assisi (1194-1253)


The legend of Clare portrays the last hour of her earthly life. As she lay dying she blessed her sisters at San Damiano, those in other monasteries and those to follow in the future. This blessing is attributed to Clare of Assisi.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he show his face to you and be merciful to you. May he turn his countenance to you, my sisters, and daughters, and give peace to you, and to all the others who come and remain in your company as well as to others now and in the future, who have persevered in every other monastery of the Poor Ladies.
I, Clare, a servant of Christ, a little plant of our most holy Father Francis, a sister and mother of you and the other poor sisters, although unworthy, beg our Lord Jesus Christ through his mercy and the intercession of his most holy Mother Mary and blessed Michael the Archangel and all the holy angels of God, of our blessed Father Francis, and all men and women saints, that the heavenly Father give you and confirm for you this most holy blessing in heaven and on earth. On earth, may he multiply you in his grace and his virtues among his servants and handmaids in his Church Militant. In heaven, may he exalt you and glorify you among his men and women saints in his Church Triumphant.
I bless you during my life and after my death, as I am able, out of all the blessings with which the Father of mercies has and does bless his sons and daughters in heaven and on earth and a spiritual father and mother have blessed and bless their spiritual sons and daughters.
fresco of clare of Assisi

check out Clare's thumb nail bio here at Living water from an ancient well

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

King Oswald (605-42)

Oswald in a wall painting in Durham Cathedral

Lord God almighty, who so kindled the faith of King Oswald with your Spirit that he set up the sign of the cross in his kingdom and turned his people to the light of Christ: grant that we, being fired by the same Spirit, may always bear our cross before the world and be found faithful servants of the gospel; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

A Collect (prayer) from the memorial Mass of King Oswald