Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve (5)

 Repose of Sleep

O God of life, darken not to me your light,
O God of life, close not to me your joy,
O God of life, shut not to me your door,
O God of life, refuse not to me your mercy,
O God of life, quench to me your wrath,
And O God of life, crown to me your gladness,
O God of life, crown to me your gladness.

Ancient Celtic prayer collected by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), published in Carmina Gadelica (Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1992). These are prayers, hymns, and incantations collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the 18th century.

 Graphic: Close up of one side of the Celtic Rest. a sculpture in oak by Mary Mc Namara, outside Templegate Hotel in County Clare, Ireland.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

More celtic blessings


Smooring the fire

The sacred Three
To save,
To shield,
To surround,
The hearth,
The house,
The household,
This eve,
This night,
Oh! this eve,
This night,
And every night,
Each single night.


Good Wish

Wisdom of serpent be thne
Wisdom of raven be thine,
Wisdom of valiant eagle.
Voice of swan be thine,
Voice of honey be thine,
Voice of the son of the stars.
Bounty of sea be thine,
Bounty of land be thine,
Bounty of the Father of heaven.

Each thing I have received, from Thee it came,
Each thing for which I hope, from Thy love it will come,
Each thing I enjoy, it is of Thy bounty,
Each thing I ask comes of Thy disposing.

From "God Under My Roof, Celtic Songs and Blessings" by Esther de Waal

Thursday, December 27, 2012

St John the Beloved ( 6 - 100 )

 When John was aged, he trained Polycarp who later became Bishop of Smyrna. This was important because Polycarp was able to carry John's message to future generations. Polycarp taught Irenaeus the Bishop of Galatia, and passed on to him stories about John.

The Celtic mission inspired by John, remembered him as the beloved disciple who rested his head on  Jesus breast at the last supper. He became the example for the practice listening to the heartbeat of God.

December 27 (Western Christianity)

September 26 & May 8 (Eastern Christianity)

 Graphic: St John the Evangelist   from the Book of Mulling, Irish, late 8th century

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Day (5)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was filled with sorrow at the tragic death of his wife in a fire in 1861. The Civil War broke out the same year, and it seemed this was an additional punishment. Two years later, Longfellow was again saddened to learn that his own son had been seriously wounded in the Army of the Potomac.

Sitting down to his desk, one Christmas Day, he heard the church bells ringing. It was in this setting that Longfellow wrote these lines:

 I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep.
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The wrong shall fail,
The right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men!"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve (5)


Loving Father, Help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the  (coming) Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus' sake. Amen.

(A Christmas Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

7th O Antiphon

O Emmanuel,
King and Lawgiver
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free, Lord, our God!

Isaias 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

6th 0 Antiphon

O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man,
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust

Isaias 9:7

His empire shall be multiplied, and there shall be no end of peace: he shall sit upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom; to establish it and strengthen it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth and for ever: the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Isaias 2:4

And he shall judge the Gentiles, and rebuke many people: and they shall turn their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into sickles: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they be exercised any more to war.

Friday, December 21, 2012

5th O Antiphon

O Radiant Dawn,
Splendor of eternal light,
Sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death

Isaias 9:2

The people that walked in darkness, have seen a great light: to them that dwelt in the region of the shadow of death, light is risen.

Malachias 4:1-3

For behold the day shall come kindled as a furnace: and all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall set them on fire, saith the Lord of hosts, it shall not leave them root, nor branch. But unto you that fear my name, the Sun of justice shall arise, and health in his wings: and you shall go forth, and shall leap like calves of the herd. And you shall tread down the wicked when they shall be ashes under the sole of your feet in the day that I do this, saith the Lord of hosts.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

4th O Antiphon

O Key of David,
O Royal Power of Israel
Controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom
Isaias 22:22

And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaias 9:6

For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

The Celtic Wheel of the Year

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

3rd O Antiphon


O Flower of Jesse's stem,
You have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
Kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.
Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid

Isaias 11:1

And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root.

Isaias 11:10

In that day the root of Jesse, who standeth for an ensign of the people, him the Gentiles shall beseech, and his sepulchre shall be glorious.

Micheas 5:1

Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel.

Romans 15:8-13

For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers. But that the Gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and will sing to thy name. And again he saith: Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again: Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and magnify him, all ye people. And again Isaias saith: There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles, in him the Gentiles shall hope. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing; that you may abound in hope, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.

Apocalypse 5:1-5

And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne, a book written within and without, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel, proclaiming with a loud voice: Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man was able, neither in heaven, nor on earth, nor under the earth, to open the book, nor to look on it. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open the book, nor to see it. And one of the ancients said to me: Weep not; behold the lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

2nd O Antiphon

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free

Isaias 11:4-5

But he shall judge the poor with justice, and shall reprove with equity the meek of the earth: and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. And justice shall be the girdle of his loins: and faith the girdle of his reins.

Isaias 33:22

For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king: he will save us.

Monday, December 17, 2012

1st O Antiphon


O Wisdom,
O Holy Word of God,
You govern all creation with your strong, yet tender care.
Come, and show your people the way to salvation.

Isaias 11:2-3

And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding, the spirit of counsel, and of fortitude, the spirit of knowledge, and of godliness. And he shall be filled with the spirit of the fear of the Lord, He shall not judge according to the sight of the eyes, nor reprove according to the hearing of the ears.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The O Antiphons

The Great "O" Antiphons - seven brief prayers that are traditionally chanted or sung on successive evenings starting on December 17. The precise origin of these texts is unknown. However, by the 8th and 9th centuries, the church in Rome and monastic communities throughout western Europe were using them at evening worship services during the season of Advent.

 THE seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights." The week leading up to Christmas EVE.

Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come."


C S Lewis Quote


Our imitation of God in this life … must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions.

- C.S. Lewis, from his book The Four Loves

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mystical Verse (4)

Now Thank We Our God

1 Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers' arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

2 O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

3 All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore

                            Martin Rinckart 1586 - 1649

Friday, December 7, 2012

Monasticism (14)

Irish Monasticism (part 2)

In Ireland the church was always the local church. There was nothing else. The local tribe was the point of meeting one with the other, and the number of tribes was enormous, though they might be joined up in little kingdoms or bigger ones. When the tribe responded to the Gospel, an enclosure would be set aside, with boundaries and ‘termon’ crosses, sometimes with a ditch, sometimes with a wall, clearly marking out to everyone that the area was sacred. Within it a tiny church of wattle and daub would be built. That would not take long.

In many places there seems to have been no shortage of aspiring monks. As for sites, as one travels to the places they chose one is amazed by the astonishingly beauty of the places they picked. In particular the sea islands (particularly off the West coast) and the many Lough Islands furnished such places in abundance. Even today travelling throughout the island the memory of the founding saints is singularly well preserved, though often there is little detail. Something is known of some 250 from this early period but this does not include many more, without number, whose names are hardly known, were never recorded, or which have become lost.

Whoever they were, bishops, monk or hermits (and some bishops were monks or even hermits) some founded several churches. 4000 is the estimated overall number. Of course nothing survives of the perishable materials used. But where wood was plentiful, churches were also made of planks; or if there was little wood, in stone. Apart from Duleek (7C), the first stone churches however appear to be the tomb-shrines of founder saints in the 8C, but then in increasing numbers from the 8th -10th  centuries. As stone churches these can be recognised by the ‘antae’, that is, flat projecting gable-ends, which imitate upright corner timbers on their wooden predecessors. They had doors in the west (gable) end and sometimes a wonderful doorway made of very large well-dressed stones. As the churches were often small, the people stood outside - outdoor altars being in some cases provided where they could say their prayers. There were perhaps a few larger churches, first in wood, and later in stone.

Many monasteries were built at tribal centres or at meeting places on tribal boundaries.  As some monastic communities grew they attracted a resident local community in an arrangement that was of benefit to all. The monasteries provided their spiritual ministrations to local families and taught the children; families helped with the agricultural labour, and with livestock. The dynamic went well – monastery and village grew together. This enabled the monks to take on such great tasks as creating and copying of literature and highly specialised metal-ware. But there were drawbacks. The principal one was that the tribal leader asserted his right to appoint the abbot, who might well turn out to be one of his own family. Worse still, when tribes were involved in a fight, the monks were expected to join in. Then there were the ‘manaim’.

In spite of the fact that the origin of this term and that of the word ‘monk’ is the same these were not the married monks, but men with families who lived round the monastery and who, with their families, lived under considerable religious discipline alongside their spiritual if not natural brothers in the monastery. This included no small degree of sexual abstinence. Any suggestion that these were monks indulging in gross laxity or immorality has to be discounted. Such a life sounds like another of those Irish solutions which had its rationale ‘on the ground’. It is all about finding ‘in-between meanings’. The Irish have always helped us think outside of our boxes – that is very much part of being Irish. Tertiaries in Western monasteries is another ‘in-between arrangement’. In the East married men have always been encouraged to spend time in a monastery. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


C S Lewis on Theosis

God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man.
C.S. Lewis

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.
C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Group Lectio

Here is a group lectio Divina model i have used , in seminars, gatherings,  workshops and community

1. Open with prayer

2. The passage is read two or three times slowly and deliberately and participants are asked to mull over the word or phrase that speaks to them

3. After sharing the word or phrase with the group; the passage is read two or three more times with different voices (different gender or two or three in unison)

4. Again in silence participants reflect on the word or phrase that speaks to them. This time attending to the emotions or feelings that it conjures up.

5. The passage is read twice again in a distinctive voice. Then a long period of silence is kept to inquire and reflect on why this word or emotion has been provoked.

6. Finally a time of sharing ends the session with each person having an opportunity to reflect what they felt God was saying to them through the text

7. Can be closed with prayer

Historically this exercise was done with scripture or a devotional text.

graphic: leading a group lectio session at the Nidus festival

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dorthy Day (1897 - 1980 )

Dorthy Speaks: On Love

“When it comes down to it, even on the natural plane, it is much happier and more enlivening to love than to be loved.”

 “True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable.There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one. We are one flesh in the Mystical Body as man and woman are said to be one flesh in marriage.
With such a love one would see all things new; we would begin to see people as they really are, as God sees them.”

“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love the least.”

  “To love with understanding and without understanding. To love blindly, and to folly. To see only what is loveable. To think only of these things. To see the best in everyone around, their virtues rather than their faults. To see Christ in them!”

"As Dostoevski said: 'Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams.”

“Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up.
If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other's faults and burdens.
If we love enough, we are going to light a fire in the hearts of others.
And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.”

“The final word is love.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gregory of Siani ( died 1346 )

Born in Smyrna, he was captured by Turks as a young man. He was eventually ransomed to Cyprus and became a monk at Saint Cathrine monastery on Mount Sinai. Later  he moved to Crete where he learned the practice of the Jesus prayer and hesychasm from the monk Arsenios. 

Eventuallyi n 1310 he moved to Hount Athos  to the Magoula skete near Phileotho Monestary  where he remained until 1335. Thus, having gained the experience of many centuries of the monastic life from the ancient monasteries, Gregory settled down in a solitary place for the purpose of pursuing "hesychia" (stillness doing the Jesus Prayer)

With his contemporary Gregory of Palamas, he helped to establish Mount Athos as a center of hesychasm. From there he wrote and traveled widely teaching this approach to contemplation as a method of union with God.

Concerned with spreading of monasticism, Gregory founded several cells on Mount Athos, as well as four monasteries in Thrace.

Increasing Muslim raids on Athos pushed Gregory and some disciples into the Bulgarian empire, where he would find protection under Bulgarian Emperor Ivan Alexander and where he founded a monastery near Paroria, Strnadzah mountains in south east Bulgaria where he died on November 27th 1346.

 The Philokalia includes five works in Greek by Gregory,
  • On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions and Virtues, and also on Stillness and Prayer: 137 Texts
  • Further Texts
  • On the Signs of Grace and Delusion, Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts
  • On Stillness: Fifteen Texts
  • On Prayer: Seven Texts

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Monasticism (13)

Irish Monasticism  part 1

The ‘Catalogue of the Saints of Ireland’ divided the Saints of Ireland into three orders. The first contains all those bishops deemed to have received their ministry from St Patrick. The second lists monks who had received their ministry from Britain. The third consists of hermits. But the document is of 9C or even 10C and is clearly designed to boost the prestige of Patrick and his bishops over against the monks and hermits. But these orders were not consecutive but contemporary one with another and should be dated to the 6C. This century was one of great expansion which saw not only bishops, but monks and hermits, spreading everywhere in Ireland. The result was that the monasteries became the de facto centres of the church.  Monasticism, with its multiple forms, had great appeal because its adaptability.

The traditional founder of the monastic movement is said to have been St Finnian of Clonard (548) who had received training in Wales. He was undoubtedly a great founder and teacher. But there were many before him. Patrick’s relation to the monastic life is unclear though interesting. Some deny he founded any monasteries on the grounds that bishops came first and monks later. Yet St Patrick was firmly in favour of the dedicated life; he refers to it four times. Most explicit is his statement that, ‘The sons of the Irish and the daughters of their kings are monks and brides of Christ’. But even if this only referred to individuals not communities – and this is not clear- for a bishop in the 5th C to be so positive is unusual. His companion St Tassach (470), founder of the church at Raholp just 2 miles from Saul, is said to have spent 7 years on Rathlin O’Birne off the coast of Donegal with other hermits before 500. If so this is of extraordinary interest. St Enda (530) spent many years first as a hermit, founder of a monastery and teacher of many on Inishmore, the main island of Aran Co Galway. St Donard (507) at Maghera Co Down is said to have had a hermit’s cell on top of Slieve Donard in the Mountains of Mourne. St Forthchern (5C), who is said to have been a bishop and then a hermit in Meath, may have been the teacher of Finnian. St Buite (523) founded Monasterboice in Co Louth. St Senan (546) evangelised West and South Clare and he and his disciples founded many places around the Clare coast and on the islands of the Shannon estuary. There are also several remarkable women saints from the early period, St Gobnait (5C) at Ballyvourney (Co Cork), St Arraght (5C) at Killaracht and Monasteraden (both Co Sligo), St Monnina at Killevy (Co Armagh) (517), St Brigit (524) at Kildare, St Bronagh at Kilbroney, Rostrevor (Co Down) and St Ita (570) at Killeedy (Co Limerick).

St Columba (597) was perhaps the most prolific founder of monasteries of all. Born at Garten in Co Donegal, he was of royal blood, of commanding stature and evidently of great charisma. He eventually left Ireland for Scotland where, from this base on Iona, he evangelised among the Picts. His ‘Life’ written by St Adamnan gives a vivid picture of an Irish saint and Irish  monasticism..

Friday, November 23, 2012

Columbanus (543 - 615)

From the Instructions of St Columban

You, God, are everything to us

My brethren, let us follow this call. We are called to the source and fountain of life, by the Life who is not just the fountain of living water but also the fountain of eternal life, the fountain of light, the fountain and source of glory. From this Life comes everything: wisdom, life, eternal light. The Creator of life is the fountain from which life springs; the Creator of light is the fountain of light. So let us leave this world of visible things. Let us leave this world of time and head for the heavens. Like fish seeking water, like wise and rational fish let us seek the fountain of light, the fountain of life, the fountain of living water. Let us swim in, let us drink from the water of the spring welling up into eternal life.

  Merciful God, righteous Lord, grant that I may reach that fountain. There let me join the others who thirst for you, drinking living water from the living stream that flows from the fountain of life. Overwhelmed by its sweetness let me cling close to it and say “How sweet is the spring of living water that never runs dry, the spring that wells up into eternal life!.”

  O Lord, you yourself are that spring, always and for ever to be desired, always and for ever to be drunk from. Christ our Lord, give us this water as the Samarian woman once asked you, so that in us also it can be a spring of living water welling up into eternal life. It is an enormous gift I am asking – everyone knows that – but you, King of glory, have given great gifts in the past and made great promises. Nothing, after all, is greater than you; and yet you have given yourself to us and given yourself for us.

  Therefore we beg you that we should come to full knowledge of the thing that we love; for we pray to be given nothing other than you yourself. You are everything to us, our life, our light, our health and strength, our food, our drink, our God. Jesus, our Jesus, I beg you to fill our hearts with the breath of your Spirit. Pierce our souls with the sword of your love so that each of us can say truthfully in his heart, “Show me the one with whom my soul is in love, for by love I am wounded.”

  Lord, let me bear such wounds in my soul. Blessed is the soul that is wounded by such love and, thus wounded, seeks the fountain and drinks, thirsts even while it drinks: it seeks by loving, and the very wound of love brings it healing. May Jesus Christ, our righteous God and Lord, our true and healing doctor, deign to wound our innermost hearts with that healing wound. With the Father and the Holy Spirit he is one, for ever and for ever. 


Saint Columban—the dove ( The name means dove or little dove in Latin. )of Christ The Irish missionary monk St. Columban (ca. 543-615) who traveled throughout Europe. He founded influential monasteries in France, Switzerland, and Italy.

graphics: top left Bibbio Italy
The Irish monks with their new, forceful kind of Christianity, stressing self-discipline and purity of life, presented a striking contrast to the complacent churchmen already living among the Franks. Columban spoke out repeatedly against the cruelty and self-indulgence of the kings and royal families, stressing the necessity of penance and introducing a new custom of frequent personal confession.

Read more:
               bottom right. statue of St Columbanus in Bibbio
The Irish monks with their new, forceful kind of Christianity, stressing self-discipline and purity of life, presented a striking contrast to the complacent churchmen already living among the Franks. Columban spoke out repeatedly against the cruelty and self-indulgence of the kings and royal families, stressing the necessity of penance and introducing a new custom of frequent personal confession.

Read more:

Thursday, November 22, 2012

mystical verse (3)

The Blessed Journey

Let Him lead thee blindfold onwards,
Love needs not to know;
Children whom the Father leadeth
Ask not where they go.
Though the path be all unknown,
Over moors and mountains lone.

Give no ear to reason’s questions:
Let the blind man hold
That the sun is but a fable
Men believed of old.
At the breast the babe will grow;
Whence the milk he need not know.

                 Gerhard Tersteegeen 1697 - 1769

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jakop Boehme ( 1575 - 1624 )

This German protestant mystic and theologian, was born in the East German town of Goerlitz in 1575. He had little in the way of a formal education and made his living as a shoemaker; he married and had four children.  He is considered an original thinker within the Lutheran tradition, his thought drew from  a wide range of  interests including Paracelsus, the Kabbala, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition. 

 Böhme had a number of mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 as one day he focused his attention onto the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family

 In 1610 Böhme experienced another inner vision in which he further understood the unity of the cosmos and felt that he had received a special vocation from God.

 Twelve years after the vision in 1600, Böhme began to write his first book, Die Morgenroete im Aufgang (The rising of Dawn). The book was given the name Aurora by a friend; however, Böhme originally wrote the book for himself and it was never completed. A manuscript copy of the unfinished work was loaned to Karl von Ender, a nobleman, who had copies made and began to circulate them. . Like Eckhart and others, Boehme's thought drew fire from the church authorities, who silenced him for five years. In 1618 Boehme began writing again, this time in secrecy  after the persistent  insistence of friends who had read Aurora,

In 1619 Böhme wrote "De Tribus Principiis" or "On the Three Principles of Divine Being". It took him two years to finish his second book, which was followed by many other treatises, all of which were copied by hand and circulated only among friends. In 1620 Böhme wrote "The Threefold Life of Man", "Forty Questions on the Soul", "The Incarnation of Jesus Christ", "The Six Theosophical Points", "The Six Mystical Points". 

In 1622 Böhme wrote "De Signatura Rerum". In 1623 Böhme wrote "On Election to Grace", "On Christ's Testaments", "Mysterium Magnum", "Clavis (Key)". The year 1622 saw Böhme write some short works all of which were subsequently included in his first published book on New Year's Day 1624, under the title Weg zu Christo The Way to Christ.

 He again raised the cockles of church authorities, and he was banished from his home. He died soon thereafter, in 1624, after returning home from Dresden. His last words spoken, as he was surrounded by his family, were reported to be, "Now I go hence into Paradise."

Poets such as John Milton, Ludwig Tiack, Novalis and William blake found inspiration in Böhme's writings.  His thought influenced  major figures in philosophy, especially German Romantics such as   Baader, Schelling and Hegel. Hegel.went as far as to say that Böhme was "the first German philosopher."   

Indirectly, his influence can be traced to the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hartmann, Bergson, and Heidegger.  Paul Tillich and Martin Buber drew heavily from his work -- as did the psychologist, Carl Jung, who made numerous references to Boehme in his writings. Hegel, Baader, and Schelling. . Further,

compiled from several sources

 graphic:upper left cover pagefor one of Boehme's tracts
             bottom right, from The Life and Doctrines of Jacob Boehme. by Franz Hartmann

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Teaching of the Early Church: Theosis (2)

Irenaus and Primary Purpose of the Atonement.

“For [God] promised, that in the last times He would pour Him [the Spirit] upon [His] servants and handmaids, that they might prophesy; wherefore He did also descend upon the Son of God, made the Son of man, becoming accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the human race, to rest with human beings, and to dwell in the workmanship of God, working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits into the newness of Christ” (Against the Heresies, III.17.1). theosis

“For it was for this end that the Word of God was made man, and He who was the Son of God became the Son of man, that man, having been taken into the Word, and receiving the adoption, might become the son of God” (Against the Heresies, III.19.1). theosis

“…the Word of God, who dwelt in man, and became the Son of man, that He might accustom man to receive God, and God to dwell in man, according to the good pleasure of the Father” (Against the Heresies, III.20.2). theosis

“…our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, who did, through His transcendent love, become what we are, that He might bring us to be even what He is Himself” (Against the Heresies, V. Preface). theosis

“But we do now receive a certain portion of His Spirit, tending towards perfection, and preparing us for incorruption, being little by little accustomed to receive and bear God…” (Against the Heresies, V.7.1). theosis

Monday, November 19, 2012



Hesychasm or "prayer of the heart as it was known and taught by Gregory Palamas is a form of constant purposeful prayer or experiential prayer, explicitly referred to as contemplation. It is to focus ones mind on God and pray to God unceasingly. Under church tradition the practice of Hesychasm has it beginnings in the bible, Matthew 6:6 and is expounded on in the Philokalia. The tradition of contemplation with inner silence or tranquility is shared by all Eastern ascetisim having its roots in the Egyptian traditions of monasticism exemplified by such Orthodox monastics as St Anthony of Egypt.desert fathers

In the early 14th century, Gregory of Sinai learned hesychasm from Arsenius of Crete and spread the doctrine, bringing it to the monks on Mount Athos The terms Hesychasm and Hesychast were used by the monks on Mount Athos to refer to the practice and to the practitioner of a method of mental ascesis that involves the use of the Jesus Prayer assisted by certain psychophysical techniques. The hesychasts stated that at higher stages of their prayer practice they reached the actual contemplative union with the Tabor light, i.e., Uncreated Divine Light or photomos seen by the apostles in the event of the Transfiguration of Christ and Saint Paul while on the road to Damascus.

compiled from several Orthodox sources

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Hilda (614–680)


St Hilda's Three Monasteries

We do not know where Hilda began her life as a nun, except that it was on the North bank of the River Wear. Here with a few companions, she learned the traditions of Celtic monasticism which Aidan brought from Iona. After a year, Aidan appointed Hilda second Abbess of Hartlepool. No trace remains of this abbey, but the monastic cemetery has been found near the present St. Hilda’s Church. In 657 Hilda became the founding abbess of a new monastery at Whitby (then known as Streonshalh); she remained there until her death in 680.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Monasticism (12)

The Skete

A Skete, is a monastic style community that allows relative isolation for monks, but also allows for communal services and the safety of shared resources and protection. It is one of three early monastic orders along with eremitic and coenobitic that became popular during the early formation of the Christian Church.

Skete communities usually consist of a number of small cells or caves that act as the living quarters with a centralized church or chapel. These communities are thought of as a bridge between strict hermetic lifestyle and communal lifestyles since it was a blend of the two. These communities were a direct response to the ascetic lifestyle that early Christians aspired to live. Skete communities were often a bridge to a stricter form of hermitage or to martyrdom. The term Skete is most likely a reference to the Scetis valley region of Egypt where Skete communities first appear, but a few scholars have argued that it instead is a stylized spelling of the word ascetic.

graphic: St. Anna's Skete, Mount Athos

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Roque Gonzales (1576 -1628)

Father Roque González de Santa Cruz was born in  Paraguay to a family of Spanish nobles.He spoke Guarani fluently from an early age. 

At the age of 22 he was ordained a priest. In 1609, he became a Jesuit, beginning his work as a missionary among the indigenous people of the region. He became the first European  to enter the region known today as the Brazilian State of Rio du Sol

His arrival in the area only happened after his developing delicate relationships of trust with local indigenous leaders, some of whom feared that the priests were preparing the way for the arrival of masses of Europeans in their land.

While Spanish conquistadors brutalized the natives of Paraguay and raped their culture Gonzales responded by leading Jesuits to create politically independent Indian villages of several thousand persons.  More than thirty such communal farming communities were formed, some which became the sights of present day cities in Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil.

He and two helpers were killed by natives when they attempted to establish a community in southern Brazil.

Celtic Advent Begins

The Celtic Advent period lasts for forty days. Nov. 15-Dec. 24.  The Dates are the same for Eastern Orthodox Advent (Nativity Fast, Winter Lent, or the Christmas Lent).

During the time of ancient Celtic Christianity, the entire Church, both Western (including the Celtic Christians), and Eastern (the Orthodox Communions, Oriental Churches, and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics) all celebrated a longer Advent Season as a lesser Lenten fast. 
Advent seems to have been a result of the observance of the Celtic monks in Gaul,

It began on the same date every year on November 15th (Orthodox Churches still observe it as beginning on this day Observance of Advent appears to have taken place since the 4th Century (300's A.D.)  Like Lent, it originally was a season when new Christians studied in preparation for being baptized.  In the early Middle Ages Advent was the Season of preparing oneself for the Second Coming of Christ.  It was a season of repentance and dedication to prayer.

a short Northumbrian Advent compline that can be used nightly until the 17th of December and the begining of the Advent Antiphons

 Celtic Advent liturgy that can be used Sundays leading up to christmas

 Living Water Acient Well explanation of Advent 

Graphic:this is the  Celtic advent wreath we lit through out the advent season

Living water classic re-post

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gregory Palamas ((1296–1359)

Gregory was born in Constantinople. His father was a courtier of the Byzantine emperor Andronikas II, but he died soon after Gregory was born. The Emperor himself groomed the the fatherless boy he would devote himself to government service.

 Despite the Emperor's ambitions for him, Gregory, then barely twenty years old, withdrew to Mount Athos  becaming a novice. Eventually, he was tonsured a monk, and continued his life of asceticism

Gregory spent eight years of spiritual struggle and eventually transferred to the Great Larva on Mount Athos, where he served the brethren in the refectory and  as a cantor. Wishing to devote himself more fully to prayer and asceticism he entered a skete called Glossia, where he taught the ancient practice of contemplative prayer known as "prayer of the heart" or Hesychasm.

 Barlaam an Italian born convert to Eastern Orthodoxy was scandalized by hesychasm after he encountered contemplatives during a visit to Mount Athos. Trained in the mode of Western Scholastic Theology, Barlaam propounded a more intellectual and propositional approach to the knowledge of God than that of the Contemplatives. He began to combat hesychasm both orally and in his writings

On the Hesychast side,  Palamas was asked by his fellow monks on Mt Athos to defend hesychasm from the attacks of Barlaam. Palamas was well-educated in Greek philosophy. In response to Barlaam's attacks, Palamas wrote nine treatises entitled "Triads For The Defense of Those Who Practice Sacred Quietude". The treatises are called "Triads" because they were organized as three sets of three treatises. He also  defended hesychasm at six different synods in Constantinople where finally in 1351Barlaam's opposition to Hesychasm was finally ended.

Palamas's opponents in the Hesychast controversy spread slanderous accusations against him, and in 1344  imprisoned him for four years.Gregory was released from prison and became the Bishop of  Thessaloniki
However, since the conflict with Barlaam had not been settled at that point, the people of Thessalonika did not accept him, and he was forced to live in a number of places. It was not until 1350 that he was able to serve as Bishop In 1354, during a voyage to Constantinople, the ship he was in fell into the hands of Turkish pirates; he was imprisoned and beaten. He was obliged to spend a year in detention at the Ottoman court where he was well treated. Eventually his ransom was paid and he returned to Thessaloniki, where he served as Archbishop for the last three years of his life.

Palamas died on November 14, 1359. His dying words were, "To the heights! To the heights!" He was canonized a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1368 

compiled from several sources

graphics: upper left ancient Icon of Gregory. bottom right; the triads, the classics of western spirituality series

Monday, November 12, 2012

Josaphat & Charles Simeon

Ironical today marks the feast days of two  men who suffered greatly while working toward understanding  and tolerance in the family of Christ.

Josaphat (1580-1623)

An orthodox monk who believed the schism between the eastern and western church should be bridged. After his ordination he became eloquent on the issue. Once elected archbishop he focused on clerical and lay reform. Fear of Rome lead a group of bishops to oppose him, stirring up controversy. As an act of conciliation he visited the churches that opposed him. It was while preaching at one of these that an angry mob grabbed him, smashed his skull and threw his body in o the river. he was canonized in1876 as a martyr for Christian unity

 Charles Simeon (1759-1836)

His professional adult life was spent  serving as a chaplain at Cambridge University. Through out he remained deeply rooted in both the Anglican church and in the evangelical experience he had as an undergraduate.

He suffered greatly even physically at the hands of both the high church and the evangelicals. Ironically he garnered the love of those who were seekers.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day

An Ancient Celtic Peace Blessing

If there is righteousness in the heart,
there will be beauty in the character.
If there is beauty in the character,
there will be harmony in the home.
If there is harmony in the home,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
So let it be.

—Scottish Blessing

Martin of Tours (316-397)

Martin of Tours and Celtic Monasticism

By the 4th century an ascetic/monastic revival was occurring throughout Christendom, and in the West this revival was being led by St. Martin. The Monastery of Marmoutier which St. Martin founded near Tours (on the Loire in western France) served as the training ground for generations of monastic aspirants drawn from the Romano-Celtic nobility. It was also the spiritual school that bred the first great missionaries to the British Isles. The way of life led at Marmoutier harmonized perfectly with the Celtic soul. Martin and his followers were contemplatives, yet they alternated their times of silence and prayer with periods of active labor out of love for their neighbor.

Some of the monks who were formed in St. Martin’s “school” brought this pattern back to their Celtic homelands in Britain, Scotland and Wales. Such missionaries included Publicius, a son of the Roman emperor Maximus who was converted by St. Martin, and who went on to found the Llanbeblig Monastery in Wales—among the first of over 500 Welsh monasteries. Another famous disciple of St. Martin was St. Ninian, who traveled to Gaul to receive monastic training at St. Martin’s feet, and then returned to Scotland, where he established Candida Casa at Whithorn, with its church dedicated to St. Martin. The waterways between Ireland and Britain had been continually traversed by Celtic merchants, travelers, raiders and slave-traders for many centuries past, so the Irish immediately heard the Good News brought to Wales and Scotland by these disciples of Ninian.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Blessing For Hearth-Keepers

As the cooler days settle in upon us I thought it would be fitting to share this Celtic Blessing for the Keeper  of the  Hearth

Brigid of the Mantle, encompass us,
Lady of the Lambs, protect us,
Keeper of the Hearth, kindle us.
Beneath your mantle, gather us, And restore us to memory.
Mothers of our mother, Foremothers strong.
Guide our hands in yours,
Remind us how To kindle the hearth.
To keep it bright, To preserve the flame.
Your hands upon ours, Our hands within yours,
To kindle the light, Both day and night.
The Mantle of Brigid about us,
The Memory of Brigid within us,
The Protection of Brigid keeping us From harm,
from ignorance, from heartlessness.
This day and night, From dawn till dark, From dark till dawn.

(Brigid is the Irish saint whose following draws strongly upon the Celtic Goddess of the same name; as hearth-keeper, she is venerated throughout the Celtic world.)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Feast Day of Irish Saints

The Litany of Irish Saints

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity one God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
St. Joseph,

St. Killian, pray for us
St. Rumold,
St. Livinus,
Blessed Oliver,
All ye Holy Martyrs,

St. Celestine,pray for us
St. Patrick,
St. Malachy,
St. Macnise,
St. Finnian,
St. Mel
St. Macartan,
St. Eugene,
St. Colman,
St. Felim,
St. Eunan,
St. Laurence,
St. Conleth,
St. Laserian,
St. Aidan,
St. Kieran,
St. Albert,
St. Ailbe,
St. Colman,
St. Finnbarr,
St. Flannan,
St. Munchin,
St. Fachtna,
St. Otteran,
St. Carthage,
St. Jarlath,
St. Nathy,
St. Asicus,
St. Nicholas,
St. Colman,
St. Muredach,
St. Declan,
St. Virgilius,
St. Senan,
St. Frigidian,
St. Cuthbert,
St. Rupert,
St. Celsus,
St. Cataldus,
St. Donatus,
Blessed Thaddaeus,
All ye Holy Pontiffs and Confessors,

St. Columba,pray for us
St. Kevin,
St. Brendan,
St. Canice,
St. Kieran,
St. Columbanus,
St. Gall,
St. Fursey,
St. Fintan,
St. Comgall,
St. Fiacre,
All ye Holy Monks and Hermits,

St. Brigid, pray for us
St. Ita,
St. Attracta,
St. Dympna,
St. Lelia,
All ye Holy Virgins,

All ye Holy Saints of God, Intercede for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

V. Pray for us, all you Saints of Ireland.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray

Grant, O Lord, an increase of Thy Grace to us who celebrate the memory of all the Saints of our Island ; that as, on earth, we rejoice to be one with them in race, so,in Heaven, we may deserve to share with them an inheritance of bliss. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen. 

The Origins: In the early 1920's  Pope Benedict XV instituted a feast day  on November the 6th in honor of All the Saints of Ireland. Indeed the Litany of the Irish Saints was authorized for public, as opposed to purely private, recitation. This  translation was published in the Irish Ecclesiastical Record for 1921

Top Graphic: Icon of the Litany of the Saints

Bottom Graphic: Regensburg fragment, a page from the 12th century Litany of the Irish Saints