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