Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Grace

   A Grace Before Dinner

O thou who kindly dost provide
   For ev'ry creature's want!
We bless the God of Nature wide,
   For all Thy goodness lent.

And if it please Thee, heavenly Guide,
   May never worse be sent;
But, whether granted or denied,
   Lord, bless us with content.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Peter Maurin Social transformation and celtic monasticismm

Maurin's vision to transform the social order consisted of three main ideas:
  1. Establishing urban houses of hospitality to care for the destitute.
  2. Establishing rural farming communities to teach city dwellers agrarianism  and encourage a movement back to the land .
  3. Setting up roundtable discussions in community centers in order to clarify thought and initiate action.
This vision was inspired by the early Celtic monastic communities that transformed Europe.

In His own words,

"Cult, Culture, and Cultivation"

"When the Irish scholars (monks) decided to lay the foundations
of medieval Europe, they established:Centers of Thought
 (monastic communities) in all the cities of Europe as far as
 Constantinople, where people could look for thought so they could
 have light. Houses of Hospitality where Christian charity were exemplified.
Agricultural Centers where they combined
(a) Cult - that is to say Liturgy
(b) with Culture - that is to say Literature
(c) with Cultivation - that is to say Agriculture. "

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Triune Blessing


In name of Father,
In name of Son,
In name of Spirit,
Three in One :

Father cherish me,
Son cherish me.
Spirit cherish me,
Three all-kindly.

God make me holy,
Christ make me holy.
Spirit make me holy.
Three all-holy.

Three aid my hope,
Three aid my love,
Three aid mine eye,
And my knee from stumbling
My knee from stumbling.

Graphic: Icon Celtic Trinity Painting , by Jim Harris

Sunday, May 20, 2012

"The Death of St. Brendan" - J.R.R. Tolkien

This epic Tolkien  poem is presented here in it's entirety enjoy!
The Death of Saint Brendan

At last out of the deep seas he passed,
and mist rolled on the shore;
under clouded moon the waves were loud,
as the laden ship him bore
to Ireland, back to wood and mire,
to the tower tall and grey,
where the knell of Cluian-ferta’s bell
tolled in the green Galway.
Where Shannon down to Lough Derg ran
under a rainclad sky
Saint Brendan came to his journey’s end
to await his hour to die.

‘O! tell me, father, for I loved you well,
if still you have words for me,
of things strange in the remembering
in the long and lonely sea,
of islands by deep spells beguiled
where dwell the Elven-kind:
in seven long years the road to Heaven
or the Living Land did you find?’

‘The things I have seen, the many things,
have long now faded far;
only three come clear now back to me:
a Cloud, a Tree, a Star.
We sailed for a year and a day and hailed
no field nor coast of mean;
no boat nor bird saw we ever afloat
for forty days and ten.
We saw no sun at set or dawn,
but a dun cloud lay ahead,
and a drumming there was like thunder coming
and a gleam of fiery red.

Upreared from sea to cloud then sheer
a shoreless mountain stood;
its sides were black from the sullen tide
to the red lining of its hood.
No cloak of cloud, no lowering smoke,
no looming storm of thunder
in the world of men saw I ever unfurled
like the pall that we passed under.
We turned away, and we left astern
the rumbling and the gloom;
then the smoking cloud asunder broke,
and we saw the Tower of Doom:
in its ashen head was a crown of red,
where the fishes flamed and fell.
Tall as a column in High Heaven’s hall,
its feet were deep as Hell;
grounded in chasms the water drowned
and buried long ago,
it stands, I ween, in forgotten lands
where the kings of kings lie low.

We sailed then on, till the wind had failed,
and we toiled then with the oar,
and hunger an thirst us sorely wrung,
and we sang our psalms no more.
A land at last with a silver strand
at the end of strenght we found;
the waves were singing in pillared caves
and pearls lay on the ground;
and steep the shores went upward leaping
to slopes of green and gold,
and a stream out of rich and teeming
through a coomb of shadow rolled.

Through gates of stone we rowed in haste,
and passed and left the sea;
and silence like dew fell in that isle,
and holy it seemed to be.
As a green cup, deep in a brim of green,
that with wine the white sun fills
was the land we found, and we saw there stand
on a laund between the hills
a tree more fair than ever I deemed
might climb in Paradise;
its foot was like a great tower’s root,
it height beyond men’s eyes;
so wide its branches, the least could hold
in shade an acre long,
and they rose as steep as mountain-snows
those boughs so broad and strong;
for white as a winter to my sight
the leaves of that tree were,
they grew more close than swan-wing plumes,
all long and soft and fair.

We deemed then, maybe, as in a dream,
that time had passed away
and our journey ended; for no return
we hoped, but there to stay.
In the silence of that hollow isle,
in the stillness, then we sang-
softly us seemed, but the sound aloft
like a pealing organ rang.
Then trembled the tree from crown to stem;
from the limbs the leaves in air
as white birds fled in wheeling flight,
and left the branches bare.
From the the sky came dropping down on high
a music not of bird,
not voice of man, nor angel’s voice;
but maybe there is a third
fair kindred in the world yet lingers
beyond the foundered land.
Yet steep are the seas and the waters deep
beyond the White-tree Strand.’

‘O! stay now father! There’s more to say.
But two things you have told:
The Tree, the Cloud; but you spoke of three.
The Star in mind you hold?’
‘The Star? Yes, I saw it, high and far,
at the parting of the ways,
a light on the edge of the Outer Night
like silver set ablaze,
where the round world plunges steeply down,
but on the old road goes,
as an unseen bridge that on the arches runs
to coasts than no man knows.’

‘But men say, father that ere the end
you went where none have been.
I would here you tell me, father dear,
of the last land you have seen.’

‘In my mind the Star I still can find,
and the parting of the seas,
and the breath as sweet and keen as death
that was borne upon the breeze.
But where they they bloom those flowers fair,
in what air or land they grow,
what words beyond the world I heard,
if you would seek to know,
in a boat then, brother, far afloat
you must labour in the sea,
and find for yourself things out of mind:
you will learn no more of me.’

In Ireland, over wood and mire,
in the tower tall and grey,
the knell of Cluain-ferta’s bell
was tolling in green Galway.
Saint Brendan had come to his life’s end
under a rainclad sky,
and journeyed whence no ship returns,
and his bones in Ireland lie.

                                    J. R. R. Tolkien

(from The Notion Club Papers: History of Middle Earth, vol. 9, 1992 edition. )

graphic: by Leonard Korablev

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Compline


I LIE down this night with God,
And God will lie down with me ;

I lie down this night with Christ,
And Christ will lie down with me ;

I lie down this night with Spirit,
And the Spirit will lie down with me

God and Christ and the Spirit
Be lying down with me.

( a compline is a night, or retiring prayer, in the rhythm of the daily office )

What is Centering Prayer



What is centering prayer?

Centering prayer is a form of meditative or contemplative prayer that has  ancient Christian roots. Seeds of what would become known as contemplation were sown early in the Christian era. The first appearance of something echoing contemplative prayer appears  in the 4th century writings John Cassian. He writes of a practice he learned from the Desert Fathers (specifically from Isaac). Cassian's writings remained influential until the medieval era, when monastic practice shifted from a mystical orientation to Scholasticism. 

 It can therefore be very safely argued that contemplation was one of the earliest devotional practices of Christian monasticism. During the enlightenment a shift in practice took place moving emphasis from the heart to the head and so contemplation.was supplanted in importance  by  scholastic theologians, with more of an interest in rational systematic approaches.

The primary expression of centering prayer in  late Medieval Christianity is thr book The Cloud of Unknowing. Cloud was actually written in Middle English, not Latin. This indicates the primary audience was not solely meant to be priests and monks, but the common person. The  heart of the 'cloud's" practice centers around experiencing God's presence in daily  life.

 Despite what you might hear from so-called “discernment ministries,” centering prayer and other contemplative practices are very much a part of Christianity's early DNA.

Centering prayer shifts the focus in prayer from talking to God, which is probably how most of us are more accustomed to praying, to listening. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God,  as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to 'being" with Him..

As abbot at St Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts ( an area with a high concentration of spiritual retreats)through the 60s and 70s. cistern  monk Father Thomas Keating , tells of meeting many young people,  who had turned to Eastern practices for contemplative work  He found many of them had no knowledge of the contemplative traditions within Christianity and set out to present those practices in a more accessible way. The result was a clearer contemplative practice of Centering Prayer.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Prayer of Rising


Bless to me, O God,
Each thing mine eye sees;
Bless to me, O God,
Each sound mine ear hears;
Bless to me, O God,
Each odour that goes to my nostrils
Bless to me, O God,
Each taste that goes to my lips;
Each note that goes to my song,
Each ray that guides my way,
Each thing that I pursue.
Each lure that tempts my will,
The zeal that seeks my living soul.
The Three that seek my heart,
The zeal that seeks my living soul,
The Three that seek my heart.

(From Catherine Maclean, crofter, Naast, Gairloch)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Monasticism (6) Brendan (484- 577)

Brendan and the Spread of Celtic Monasticism

As well as being known as Brendan the navigator he's is also referred to as St. Brendan of Ardfert and Clonert. Generally when we speak of St. Brendan it is in relation to his epic voyage.Though He was in his fifties upon his return from his journey Brendan went on to established a number of foundations (monastic communities) and traveled extensively through out Great Britain and parts of Europe

After many years of seafaring Brendan at last returned to Ireland. As the story of the seven years' voyage was carried about, crowds of pilgrims and students flocked to Ardfert. In a few years, many religious houses were formed at Gallerus, Kilmalchedor, Brandon Hill, and the Blasquet Islands to serve the many people who sought spiritual guidance from St. Brendan. Brendan then founded a monastery at Inis-da-druim (now Coney Island, County Clare), in the present parish of Killadysert, about the year 550. He journeyed to Wales, and studied under Saint Gildas at Llancarfan. He visited Iona, and was a contemporary and disciple of St. Finian. He left traces of his apostolic zeal at Kilbrandon (near Oban) and Kilbrennan Sound. After three years in Britain he returned to Ireland and did much good work in various parts of Leinster, especially at Dysart (Co. Kilkenny), Killiney (Tubberboe), and Brandon Hill. The great mountain that juts out into the Atlantic in County Kerry is called Mount Brandon, because he built a little chapel atop it, and the bay at the foot of the mountain is Brandon Bay. He also founded the Sees of Ardfert, and of Annaghdown, and established churches at Inchiquin, County Galway, and at Inishglora, County Mayo.

 Brendan's most celebrated foundation was Clonert in Galway, in 557, over which he appointed St. Moinenn as Prior and Head Master. The great monastery at Clonert housed 3,000 monks, whose rule of life was constructed with remarkable austerity. This was a double moestary which also included a convent for women initially placed under the charge of his sister, St. Briga.

 The group of ecclesiastical remains at Ardfert is one of the most interesting and instructive now existing in Ireland. The ruins of the ancient Cathedral of St. Brendan, and of its annexed chantries and detached chapels, form a very complete reliquary of Irish ecclesiastical architecture, in its various orders and ages, from the plain but solid Danhliag of the seventh or eighth century to some late and most ornate examples of medieval Gothic. The cathedral, as it now stands, or rather as it stood before it was finally dismantled in A.D. 1641.

 He died c. 577 at Annaghdown while visiting his sister Briga. Fearing that after his death his devotees might take his remains as relics, Brendan had arranged before dying to have his body secretly carried back to the monastery he founded at Clonert concealed in a luggage cart. He was buried in Clonert Cathedral

graphics: L.St. Brendan's Cathedral, Ardfert, Doolin, Ireland.
           R. The oldest living church in Ireland; current building was built in late 1100's but Clonfert was one of the principle monastic communities in Ireland dating back to the 6th centruy. A celebrated center of learning, at times it had over 3000 monks...

 More living water links to Brendan

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Peter Maurin (1877 - 1949 )

Peter Maurin an idealistic Roman Catholic social activist worked with Dorthy Day  in the slums of New York City establishing the  Catholic Workers Movement.

 He was born into a poor farming family in  southern France, where he was one of 24 children.  Maurin served in the Sillon  movement of Marc Sanger until he became disillusioned.  He briefly tried his hand at homesteading in  Saskatchewan. That ended when his partner was killed in a hunting accident.  He than traveled through out the eastern States for a few years, eventually settling in New York City. For a ten year period Maurin left his catholic faith,  "because I was not living as a Catholic should." 

In the mid-1920s, Maurin was working as a French tutor in the New York suburbs. It was at this time Maurin experienced a religious conversion. Inspired by the life of Francis of Assisi he ceased charging for his lessons and asked only that students give as they thought appropriate. During this portion of his life, he began composing the poetry that would later be called his Easy Essays

Peter Maurin  Dorothy Day meet for the first time  in December of1932.On returning to New York from Washington, D.C., where she had covered the Hunger March  for Commonwealth and America magazines.   she walked into her apartment to find Maurin waiting her in the kitchen. He had read some of her articles and had been told by then editor of Commonwealth, George Shluter, to look her up and exchange ideas.
The first four months were spent mainly with  Maurin ,  sharing ideas, synopses of books and articles, and analyzing all facets of daily life through the lens of his intellectual system. He suggested since she had a journalistic back ground, she start a newspaper, to "bring the best of Catholic thought to the man in the street in the language of the man in the street". May 1 1933, the heart of the Great Depression saw the 1st edition of  the  Catholic Worker hit the streets.

Maurin's ideas served as the inspiration for the creation of "houses of hospitality" for the poor, the agrarian endeavors of the Catholic Worker farms, and the regular "roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought" that began taking place shortly after the publication of the first issue of CW

.Maurin believed the Catholic Worker should stress life in small agricultural communities. As he liked to say, “there is no unemployment on the land.” He lived  much of his life in Easton Pennsylvania where he worked on  Maryfarm the first Catholic Worker-owned farming commune.

During the 30's and early forties he spent much of his time taking  part in many the Catholic Worker sponsered protests, traveling and lecturing  extensively at parishes, colleges, and meetings across the country, often in coordination with the speaking tours of Dorothy Day. 

 In 1944, Maurin began to lose his memory. His condition deteriorated until he died at Maryfarm on May 15, 1949.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monasticism ( 5) Pachomius ( 280 - 346 )


Pachomius was born in Egypt around 290. According to his hagiography at the age of 20 he was he was swept up against his will in a Roman army recruitment drive, a common occurrence of the day. He converted to Christianity in 314  shortly after completing military service. . He then came into contact with a number of well known ascetics and decided to pursue that path. He sought out the hermit Palaemon as his spiritual tutor
  In about 320 after studying seven years with the Elder, he set out to live as a hermit near Tabennis, on the Nile in Upper (Southern) Egypt, in the district known as the Thebaid  This was in the same vicinity as Anthony of Egypt whose practices Pachomius imitated.  According to legend, he heard a voice  that told him to build a dwelling for the hermits to live in common.

 An earlier ascetic named Marcus had created a number of proto-monasteries called "larves", or cells, creating a  community setting for those who were physically or mentally unable to achieve the rigors of Anthony's solitary life.

 Up to this point monastics were solitary. Sometimes groups of hermits lived near one another and met occasionally for worship and  encouragement. Pachomius was the first to organize a religious community holding its goods in common,  fixed hour prayer, and following a rule under the leadership of an an Abbott or abbess.  Pachomius himself was hailed as "Abba" (father) which is where we get the word Abbot from.

  Between 321and 323. he established his first community along with his brother John.  In a short time  they were joined by 100 monks.Eventually eleven monasteries following the Rule of Pachomius were founded in the Thebaid, two of them for women After 336,

  It is estimated that there were 3000 monasteries dotting Egypt from north to south. Within a generation after his death, this number grew to 7000 and then spread from Egypt to Palestine and the Judean Desert, Syria, North Africa and eventually Western Europe. Other sources maintain that the number of monks, rather than the number of monasteries, may have reached 7000.

  He is also credited with being the first Christian to use and recommend use of a prayer robe or chakti.   His Rule greatly influenced the later work of Basil the Great (14 Jun 379) and  Benedict (11 Jul 547) who are accounted the founders of Eastern and Western monasticism as we now it.

  He remained abbot to the cenobites for some forty years. When he caught an epidemic disease (probably plague), he called the monks together, strengthened their faith, and appointed his successor and died on may 14th 346.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mothers Day

  Mothers Day was originally birthed in the bosom of the early Peace Movement

Mother's Day Proclamation of 1870
Mother's Peace Day

This yearly event was first proposed by Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 she penned the Mothers Day Proclamation as  an antiwar observance. You may be more familiar with her name in relation to the lyrics of the  American Civil  War song Battle Hymn of the Republic, which she penned.

                                       "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
                                He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
                                     He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
                                                               His truth is marching on.
                                                  Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
                                                  Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

  Born  in 1819  to a wealthy and respected New York City family, Howe became a  woman suffrage leader, a prominent advocate of abolition, peace, racial justice and women's rights. as well as a published poet. Along with her husband Samuel Gridly Howe she co-published  "The Commonwealth", an anti-slavery paper.  In 1870 she devised the Mother's Day Proclamation and in 1872 on the second Sunday in June the first Mother's Peace Day rally was observed. The idea was widely accepted and rally's continued on that day for several years.  Unfortunately she was never able to have the day recognized as an official holiday. Mother's Peace day was the beginning of the mothers day holiday in the U.S. that is now observed in May.

 The gift's of candy's and flowers of the modern commercialized celebration bear little resemblance to Julia Ward Howe's original vision for Mother's Peace Day. 

Below is her original Mother's Day Proclamation in it's entirety:  

 Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

On this Mother's Day. we pray for , peace and a hope filled future where no mother will  have to mourn the death of a child lost to  war...


Saturday, May 12, 2012

A W Tozer (1987 -1963)

More Gems from:

If you cannot worship the Lord in the midst of your responsibilities on Monday, it is not very likely that you were worshiping on Sunday!

"I am convinced," he wrote, "that the dearth of great saints in this day is due at least in part to our unwillingness to give sufficient time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God." Speaking about the frenzied pace set by religious leaders leaving no room for unhurried reflection and meditation, he cautioned, "Our religious activities should be ordered in such a way as to leave plenty of time for the cultivation of the fruits of solitude and silence."

"Worship," he wrote, "is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe, astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause but which we call Our Father in Heaven.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Julian of Norwich (1342 - 1423 )

Julian of Norwich is considered one of the foremost Christian mystics. Very little is known of her early  life, including her birth name. She was an English anchoress (similar to a hermit).  She may have been from a privileged family in or around Norwich  Norfolk. At the age of 31, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions of Christ. They ended by the time she recovered from her illness on 13 May 1373. She was at home during her near death experience, and gives no mention of her personal life up until that point. Julian wrote down a narration of the visions immediately following them, which is known as The Short Text. Twenty to thirty years later she wrote a theological exploration of the meaning of the visions, known as The Long Text. These visions are the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (ca. 1393). This is considered by many scholars to be the first book written in the English language by a women.  Julian became well known throughout England as a spiritual director to both men and women. The English mystic Margery Kempe, in her  autobiography, the first written in England , mentions going to Norwich to speak with Julian.  The Norwich Benedictine and Cardinal of England Adam Easton  may have been her spiritual director and editor of her Long Text.

Her theology was optimistic, speaking of God's love in terms of joy and compassion rather than law and duty. Suffering is not seen as punishment that God inflicts.  rather it is part of a transformational process that could facilitate a revaluation of Gods compassion and love. She believed that God loves everyone and desires  to 'save" all. The popular theology of the day interpreted current events including the black death as God punishing the wicked. In response, Julian suggested a more merciful theology. She believed that behind the reality of hell  is a greater mystery of God's love.

Her theology was unique in three aspects: Her view of sin. Her belief that God is all love and no wrath. And her view of Christ as mother. According to Julian, God is both our mother and our father. This idea was also developed by Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century.  The harmony Julian suggests between the motherly and fatherly qualities of God/Christ have greatly influenced modern feminist theologians.  

Julian taught that humans sin because they are ignorant or naive, not because they are evil or depraved, as  was the  commonly held view of sin during the Middle Ages. Julian believed that in order to learn, we must fail. . The pain caused by sin is an earthly reminder of the pain of the Passion of Christ. Therefore, as people suffer as Christ did, they have the opportunity to draw closer to Him by their experiences.

 Similarly, Julian saw no wrath in God. She believed wrath existed only in humans. She writes, “For I saw no wrath except on man's side, and He forgives that in us, for wrath is nothing else but a perversity and an opposition to peace and to love”. Julian believed that it was inaccurate to speak of God's granting forgiveness for sins because forgiving would mean that committing the sin was wrong. Julian preached that sin should be seen as a part of the learning process of life, not malice that needed forgiveness. Julian writes that God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when humans' souls mature so that evil and sin will no longer hinder one's life. 

 Probably her most controversial theological concept  was her belief in God as mother. Though most scholars read  this as  a metaphor, rather than a dogma. In her fourteenth revelation, Julian writes of the Trinity in domestic terms, comparing Jesus to a mother who is wise, loving, and merciful.  Julian's revelation revealed that God is our mother as much as He is our father. She also connects God with motherhood in terms of (1) "the foundation of our nature's creation, (2) "the taking of our nature, where the motherhood of grace begins" and (3) "the motherhood at work", and writes metaphorically of Jesus in connection with conception, nursing, labor, and upbringing. However, she sees him as our brother and husband as well.

 The saying, "…All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well", which Julian claimed to be said to her by God Himself, reflects her theology. It is one of the most famous lines in Catholic / Anglican theological writing. And one of the best-known phrases of the literature of her era

 Julian is remembered with a feast day on May 13 in the Roman Catholic tradition and on May 8 in the Anglican and Lutheran traditions.

graphics: upper left, an early depiction of Julian in her cell, lower right a page from the Divine Revalation of Love

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Monasticism (part 4)

Celtic Monasticism

As Christianity took hold in the Celtic world monasticism blossomed.

Influenced much by middle-eastern and Coptic monasticism.

Ninian (360-432) is the first recorded figure on the monastic scene in Brittan. On a return trip from Rome he meet Martin of Tours (316-97). Martin had founded a Monastery at Liguge in Gaul before becoming Bishop of Tours. He is credited with bringing monasticism West. Aside from possible direct contact with eastern monks we can trace the arrival of monasticism in Ireland and Whales from Martin in France through Ninan in Scotland. According to one story Patrick spent time at Ninan’s monastery studying monastic life.

 Monk and monastery conjure up strange and stereotypical images for many of us. There were no large medieval stone monasteries or cloisters that formed a Celtic monastery. No large church buildings were erected the. Eucharist and communal acts of worship probably took place out doors as had formally been done. The natural connection between God and creation was maintained

 Unlike the urban centers on the continent this was a tribal system with varying degrees of association or membership in the monastic family including lay members, married people, and singles, They were more like a ‘monastic village” than a huge complex building. The village was generally in a walled compound to keep animals in and raiders out. In Ireland these “villages” were the closest things to towns and became centers of hospitality, learning, agriculture, recreation, medicine, trade, commerce.
These monasteries were not often what we usually imagine.  While some monasteries were in isolated places, many more were at the crossroads of provincial territories. Monasteries were often huge theocratic villages associated with a clan with the same kinship ties, along with slaves, freemen, celibate monks, and married clergy, professed lay people, children. Men, women  and even a bishop or two living side by side as part of the community 

All were encouraged to live the life of a monk even if married with children. The abbot or abbess was the administrator of the community leaving the sacramental and evangelical functions to the bishop or the priest. Bishops were part of the tribe consecrated as holy men rather than authority figures. There were often more than one or two in a monastery.

The Druids had sacred oaks, wells, and groves.  These were considered thin places, where the veil between the natural world and the spiritual realm was tangible.   Often these became the sights of monastic communities.  Bangor is an example of a druid collage that became a monastery attracting thousands of students. Iona had been a pagan religious center known as the isles of the druids.  It became a primarily force for Celtic monasticism. St Bridget’s center at Kildare” the Church of the Oak was established at a former Druid place of worship
These communities were theologically orthodox, yet heavy emphasis on the Trinity, a love and respect for Mary, the Incarnation of Christ, theosis, Imgieo dei, Creation as a theophany and a distinct Liturgy
graphic: Skeleg Micheal

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free Will (6)

Tertullian on Free will

"Moreover, man thus constituted will be protected by both the goodness of God and by His purpose, both of which are always found in concert in our God. For His purpose is no purpose without goodness; nor is His goodness without a purpose, except forsooth in the case of Marcion’s God, who is purposelessly good, as we have shown. Well, then, it was proper that God should be known; it was no doubt a good and reasonable thing. Proper also was it that there should be something worthy of knowing God. What could be found so worthy as the image and likeness of God? This also was undoubtedly good and reasonable. Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of himself; so that this very thing — namely, freedom of will and self-command — might be reckoned as the image and likeness of God in him. For this purpose such an essence was adapted to man as suited this character, even the afflatus of the Deity, Himself free and uncontrolled. But if you will take some other view of the case, how came it to pass that man, when in possession of the whole world, did not above all things reign in self-possession — a master over others, a slave to himself? The goodness of God, then, you can learn from His gracious gift to man, and His purpose from His disposal of all things. At present, let God’s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will. God’s purpose claims some other opportunity of treatment, offering as it does instruction of like import. Now, God alone is good by nature. For He, who has that which is without beginning, has it not by creation, but by nature. Man, however, who exists entirely by creation, having a beginning, along with that beginning obtained the form in which he exists; and thus he is not by nature disposed to good, but by creation, not having it as his own attribute to be good, because, (as we have said,) it is not by nature, but by creation, that he is disposed to good, according to the appointment of his good Creator, even the Author of all good. In order, therefore, that man might have a goodness of his own, bestowed on him by God, and there might be henceforth in man a property, and in a certain sense a natural attribute of goodness, there was assigned to him in the constitution of his nature, as a formal witness of the goodness which God bestowed upon him, freedom and power of the will, such as should cause good to be performed spontaneously by man, as a property of his own, on the ground that no less than this would be required in the matter of a goodness which was to be voluntarily exercised by him, that is to say, by the liberty of his will, without either favor or servility to the constitution of his nature, so that man should be good just up to this point, if he should display his goodness in accordance with his natural constitution indeed, but still as the result of his will, as a property of his nature; and, by a similar exercise of volition, should show himself to be too strong in defense against evil also (for even this God, of course, foresaw), being free, and master of himself; because, if he were wanting in this prerogative of self-mastery, so as to perform even good by necessity and not will, he would, in the helplessness of his servitude, become subject to the usurpation of evil, a slave as much to evil as to good. Entire freedom of will, therefore, was conferred upon him in both tendencies; so that, as master of himself, he might constantly encounter good by spontaneous observance of it, and evil by its spontaneous avoidance; because, were man even otherwise circumstanced, it was yet his bounden duty, in the judgment of God, to do justice according to the motions of his will regarded, of course, as free. But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of man’s will for either issue. Since, therefore, both the goodness and purpose of God are discovered in the gift to man of freedom in his will, it is not right, after ignoring the original definition of goodness and purpose which it was necessary to determine previous to any discussion of the subject, on subsequent facts to presume to say that God ought not in such a way to have formed man, because the issue was other than what was assumed to be proper for God. We ought rather, after duly considering that it behooved God so to create man, to leave this consideration unimpaired, and to survey the other aspects of the case. It is, no doubt, an easy process for persons who take offence at the fall of man, before they have looked into the facts of his creation, to impute the blame of what happened to the Creator, without any examination of His purpose. To conclude: the goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought, show us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed." (Tertullian, Against Marcion, Bk. II, ch. vi)   

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beltane (5)

Bless our flocks and bearing kine;
Hate nor scath let not come near us,
Drive from us the ways of the wicked.

Keep thine eye every Monday and Tuesday
On the bearing kine and the pairing queys;
Accompany us from hill to sea,
Gather thyself the sheep and their progeny.

Every Wednesday and Thursday be with them,
Be thy gracious hand always about them;
Tend the cows down to their stalls,
Tend the sheep down to their folds!

Every Friday be thou, O Saint, at their head,
Lead the sheep from the face of the bens,
With their innocent little lambs following them,
Encompass them with God's encompassing.

Every Saturday be likewise with them,
Bring the goats in with their young,
Every kid and goat to the sea side,
And from the Rock of Aegir on high,
With cresses green about its summit.

The strength of the Triune be our shield in distress,
The strength of Christ, His peace and His Pasch,
The strength of the Spirit, Physician of health,
And of the precious Father, the King of grace.

 Bless ourselves and our children,
    Bless every one who shall come from our loins,
    Bless him whose name we bear,
    Bless, O God, her from whose womb we came.

    Every holiness, blessing and power,
    Be yielded to us every time and every hour,
    In name of the Holy Threefold above,
    Father, Son, and Spirit everlasting.

      Be the Cross of Christ to shield us downward,
    Be the Cross of Christ to shield us upward,
    Be the Cross of Christ to shield us roundward,
    Accepting our Beltane blessing from us,
         Accepting our Beltane blessing from us.

from the Carmaina Gadilica
graphic: Beth Maxwell Boyle