Echoes of-creation-pt1;- reflections on celtic spirituality
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Part 1 of 5. Celtic Spirituality

Part 1 of 5. Celtic Spirituality

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    Echoes of-creation-pt1;- reflections on celtic spirituality Echoes of-creation-pt1;- reflections on celtic spirituality Document Transcript

    • Echoes of Creation Reflections On Celtic Spirituality Part OneA Powerful Presence
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 2 ECHOES OF CREATIONEchoes of Creation is a series five short papers/chapters primarily designedto be delivered to participants at a series of experiential days of reflection.However, they could also be read separately by anyone interested in CelticSpirituality and could prove both informative and helpful.They are meant to assist people to explore and experience the spiritualrichness of the common Celtic inheritance, an inheritance native and uniqueto the Britain and Ireland. The sessions focus on the following prevailingthemes that inter-weave themselves through the Celtic experience of theCreator and Creation: A Powerful Presence Those Thin Places Protection & Prayer Pilgrimage :- A procession of SaintsThese four themes (essentially – Presence, Place, Prayer and Pilgrimage, thefour great P’s of Celtic Spirituality) form the essence of the Celtic approach tothe spiritual. They are integrated and encircled by the common Celticpractice of prayer, which is an expression of the totality of the relationshipwith the Creator and the Creation.The sessions will provide a basic introduction to the Celtic experience of Godand will involve Prayer, Presentation, Practice and opportunities for furtherReflection and Prayer.©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 3NOTE TO READERSFor those who cannot attend the experiential sessions but are reading thesechapters, it is hoped that they will provide a basic introduction to CelticSpirituality, a spirituality that is both unique and native to the British Isles.Celtic spirituality is one filled with richness and one that has stood the test oftime. Each session opens with a prayer to the Trinity and a reading from theChristian Scriptures which reflects the particular theme. These also have avariety of music, poetry, silence and other symbols that are part of therichness of both Celtic and the aboriginal Spiritualities of the world.A full Bibliography is presented at the end of this chapter. Other, sources arereferred to in the text as they occur.FacilitatorThe sessions and papers were both facilitated and written by Peter Creagh.Peter is an Irish Celt, rooted in Celtic Christianity and Spirituality and with adeep interest in Inter-Faith dialogue. He is a Member of the UK (Midlandsand North) Satsang Association, which is affiliated to the InternationalSatsang Association. He is a Trainer, with over 30 year’s experience and aTherapist who specialises in Relationships, Families , Solution Focused,Existential and Trans-personal Approaches and Cultural Aspects ofBereavement and Loss.Peter regularly facilitates groups in personal development, inter-personalskills and professional and ethical issues. He is interested in the holisticintegration of spiritual development with all aspects of human life andcreation.©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 4 Celtic Spirituality Part 1:- A Powerful PresenceOPENING PRAYER In the Name of the Father – the Chief of Chiefs Who loved us into being. In the name of Mary’s Son – The Christ Who longs to bring us peace. In the name of the Spirit The breath of wind that enfolds and fills us with Joy We meet in the name of Love-Peace and Joy In the Name of the Father, Son and Spirit AmenTHE WORD OF GODIn the Beginning In the beginning was the Word And the Word was with God And the Word was God. The Word was with God in the beginning Through Him all things were made; Without Him nothing was made that has been made In Him was life, And that life was the light of all peoples. The Light shines in the darkness, But the darkness has not understood it. John1: 1-5©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 5Echoes of CreationWhy this Title? This takes us back to St John’s Gospel, a favourite, alongwith the Psalms, of Celtic Christians. We return to John’s opening words.‘In the beginning was the Word’. The ‘Word’ when uttered shall notreturn without giving rise to grace. The ‘Word’ when uttered is echoed backto its Source. But what is an echo? It is the sound, the vibration, the powerof energy returning to its source.St John reminds us that all creation comes from the Word and that it ismerely an Echo of the Wonder, Splendour, Majesty and Awe of the Word. Soall creation, including us, echo this Word and therefore these reflectionsinvolve our awakening to, and preparation for, the meaning of the RisenChrist , His suffering, death and resurrection, and its echoes and resultingexperience and meaning in our life.INTRODUCTIONThis first session will look at the roots of Celtic Spirituality, its culture andtraditions and introduce the basic concepts of this ancient and non-dualform of Spirituality.Some Roots of Celtic SpiritualityCeltic Spirituality, both pre and post Christianity, share similar roots. Theseare roots based on a deep and firm understanding of the Creator andCreation. This deep understanding vibrates through the six (6) centuries (400- 1000 a.d) when Celtic Christianity flourished on these Islands whichwere set on the edge of the then known world. Whose peoples bred andnurtured a tradition of the all embracing, all enfolding and therefore allencompassing Creator. This in turn led to a reverence for Creation, itsenvironment and its effect on every day life. It was this deep Faith which forseveral centuries after the fall of Rome, preserved, spread and re-invigoratedthe Christian Faith in Western Europe. The renowned and respectedhistorian Kenneth Clark said ‘Looking back on the great civilizations oftwelfth- century France or seventeenth-century Rome, it is hard tobelieve that for quite a long time (in what historians call the Dark Ages)western Christianity survived by clinging to places like SkelligMichael – a pinnacle of rock eight miles from the Irish coast, risingseven hundred feet out of the sea’©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 6God Intoxicated PeopleCelts had an intense sense of Presence, of the Indwelling Presence - of theImmanent God who comes not just in the Immanuel that is Jesus, but ispresent in the whole of Creation. In short, Celts were ‘God Intoxicatedpeople’ (Source;- John Macquarrie – Paths in Spirituality SCM Press , London1972).An example of this ‘intoxication’ can be found in the following two extracts,the first is pre-Christian (1st century b.c.) the second is an early CelticChristian Prayer of Creation. 1. Amergin’s Praise of God I am the wind which breathes upon the sea, I am the wave of the ocean, I am the murmur of the billows, I am the ox of the seven combats, I am the vulture upon the rocks, I am the beam of the sun, I am the fairest of plants, I am the wild boar in valour, I am a salmon in the water, I am the lake in the plain, I am a word of knowledge, I am the point of the lance in battle, I am the God who created the fire of thought. Who is it that throws light Into the meeting of the mountains? Who tells the ages of men Who points to the sun’s resting place, If not I ? ( Amergin- Celtic Prince early 1st century b.c.e) From the Leabhar Gabhala – Book of Invasions©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 72. The 2nd might best be said like a Psalm, with the response betweeneach verse. God of Creation: (Prayer in the Celtic Tradition) I believe, O Lord and God of all the peoples. That You are the creator of the high heavens. That you are the creator of the skies above. That You are the creator of the oceans below. I believe, O Lord and God of all the peoples. That You are He who created my soul and set its warp. Who created my body from dust and ashes. Who gave my body its breath and to my soul its possession. I believe, O Lord and God of all the peoples. You are the God of heaven and earth Of seas and rivers, Of sun and moon and stars. Of the lofty mountains And the lowly valley. I believe that You are the God above heaven and under heaven.Further Aspects of Celtic Spirituality – Its RootsThe central roots and tenets of Celtic Spirituality lie in the deepunderstanding of, and reverence towards, the Creator and Creation. Thisleads to an inevitable strength of conviction in and around all that is sacredabout God and Creation. Therefore both pre and post Celtic Christianitydeveloped many practical ways of embracing these beliefs and truths. Thisled to them influencing all aspects of their life and culture.©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 8There are many important values, beliefs and viewpoints that influencedSome of the Celts of the west. Some of the more important points toconsider are the following:♣ A sense of the In-Dwelling Presence of the Creator in all.♣ An embracing and positive attitude to nature and the environment.♣ A celebration of God’s creation.♣ Celts saw creation and people as essentially good and therefore Christ’s Atonement was essentially a defeat not of evil itself , or even less so evil people but one that defeated the power of evil in the world.♣ Male and Female were equal and women could be leaders, certainly there were many mixed religious communities♣ A non-hierarchical approach to religion ( not focused on bishops, dioceses and parishes but on monasteries and on men and women of holiness and learning )♣ An easier attitude towards sex, celibacy and interaction between the genders♣ The land could not be owned but it, and its produce, was held in trust both for all and the Creator♣ Great emphasis was placed in wisdom, learning and the arts and these were respected above all else©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 9 The Part played by Imagination and Story The use of story andimagination played an important part in the Celtic psyche. This ‘imagination’was more like remembered culture. The Celtic culture had NO writtenlanguage, until relatively lately, and stories were memorised and passeddown through the generations. An easy way to do this was to have powerfuland imaginary stories which contained powerful truths of the people’sexperiences of their contact with God. These stories helped in theunderstanding, experiencing and expressing relationships between people,their Creator and creation.Perhaps the following two stories / metaphors may help us to understandwhat Celts felt and meant about ‘Presence’ often referred to as ‘FeltPresence’. The Celtic Church was often ‘condemned’ by Rome for ‘flights ofbardic fancy’ – a legacy of its Druidic past. In response to a letter ofcondemnation from a priest from Rome about ‘Celtic fancies’ the following isa poems/prayer composed in the 12th century by an Irish poet. To praise man is to praise The One who made him, And man’ earthly possessions Add to God’s mighty praise. All metre and mystery Touch on the Lord at last, The tide thunders ashore In praise of the High King.(Source :- A.M Allchin, Praise Above All: Discovering the Welsh Tradition,University of Wales Press, Cardiff 1991)Or perhaps the following words attributed to St Patrick as he explained to theHigh King at Tara the Mystery that is the Christian Trinity. Three folds to the cloth, yet one napkin is there, Three joints to the finger, but still only one finger fair; Three leaves of the shamrock, yet no more than one shamrock to wear, Frost, snowflakes and ice, all in water their origin share, Three persons in God, to One God alone we make prayer. ( Source:- E.Hull ed, The Poem Book of the Gael, Chatto & Windrus, London , 1912)©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 10Beware Over - SimplificationHowever, we must beware of an over romantic view of Celtic Spirituality. Thepeople lived in a harsh, damp climate and their culture (particularly inIreland and Scotland) was pervaded by a strong sense of the power of eviland dark forces and of the consequent need for penitence and austere andsimple living. There are some who also over-simplify the differencesbetween Roman and Celtic Christianity. They offer a stark contrast between ahierarchical Rome and monastic Britain and Ireland, between unholy andholy men, differences in the tonsure and in dating Easter. But these were inmany cases too simple. The main differences were more cultural and perhapsalso based on the Celtic experience of a non-dualistic God, which hassimilarities with Hindu Philosophy.The Non-Dualistic God.Arguably, Roman and Western Christianity have focused both on a morecognitive view of God and particularly of the Transcendence of God. God is‘up there’ reigning like a King/Emperor on high and we are ‘down here’ cutoff from him and needing salvation and intercessions. Celtic Christianity,both from its pre-Christian roots and its understanding of the nature of theCreator and Creation, emphasised both the Immanence (Presence) andTranscendence of God. This meant that the Creator was present in all and toall and at all times. Furthermore, Celtic Christianity held the orthodox beliefin the central Christian Doctrine of the Incarnation – the revelation ofImmanuel – ‘The God who is with us’.It is also important to note that the Celtic view of redemption was slightlydifferent to both the conservative Roman Catholic and the Protestant view.Rome and Protestants viewed Jesus’ Redemption as the saving of aninherently evil people from darkness. However, Celts saw creation andpeople as essentially good but Jesus’ Redemption saved us and protects usfrom the power of evil still in the world. Christ was therefore seen as aliberator, an emancipator, in other words , a True SaviourMany of the Mystics from all Faith Traditions ‘warn’ us of the dangers ofseeking God with our intellect. The ‘MYSTERY ‘ and ‘PRESENCE’ cannot beunderstood through mere intellect, it needs to be experienced through graceand love. Two of the greatest English Mystics had this to say.©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 11 1. Julian of Norwich She spoke of ‘ Between us and God , there is no between’ 2. The Cloud of Unknowing. The author ,who is unknown, of this spiritual classic has these words to say on intellect and love.‘He ( God) cannot be comprehended by our intellect, or any man’s –or any angel’s for that matter. For both they and we are createdbeings. But only to our intellect is He incomprehensible, not to ourlove’Celts did not fall into this trap. They were a people who were aware of boththe Immanent (Indwelling) God and the Transcendent God. They lived a lifeconstantly aware of the Presence and Protection of God in all they did and atevery moment of their daily life.Further papers/chapters will develop this theme. But now we conclude thisfirst look at Celtic Spirituality with an ancient hymn to the Sun – seen asJesus. The Celts loved nature and particularly the Cosmos, the moon, theSun and the Stars. Many prayers and rituals to the sun were part of their life. A Ghrian ( To the Sun) Jesus, You are Lord and You are Light. Enter our heart and fill us with an awareness of Your Indwelling Presence. Hail to thee, thou sun of the seasons. As thou traversest the skies aloft; Thy steps are strong on the wings of the heavens, Thou art the glorious mother of the stars. Thou liest down in the destructive ocean. Without impairment and without fear; Thou risest up on the peaceful wave crest. Like a queenly maiden in bloom. I am in hope, in its proper time, That the great and gracious God Will not put out for me the light of grace Even as thou dost leave me this night. ( Translated from the Gaelic )©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 12Final Prayer As the hand is made for holding and the eye for seeing, Thou has fashioned me for joy. Share with me the vision that shall find it everywhere. In the wild violet’s beauty; In the lark’s melody; In the face of a steadfast man; In a child’s smile; In a mother’s love; In the purity of Jesus. ( Source :- A Maclean, Hebridean Altars, Moray Press, Edinburgh, 1937) And so, we end this session with these final words May the blessings and love of the Father, The compassion and peace of the Son And the companionship and Joy of the Spirit Be with us all this night and every night. AmenThis first session and these notes have introduced some of the mainconcepts of the Celtic approach to Creation and its Creator. Further sessionswill deal with these in greater detail.©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections
    • An Introduction to Celtic Spirituality 13BIBLIOGRAPHYThe following are some of the main sources which support all chapters/short papersin this series on Celtic Spirituality. Other sources are quoted in the text as theyoccur. In addition, many of the opening and closing prayers have been adaptedand/or compiled or written by the author (Peter Creagh) in the ‘style’ of CelticSpirituality.Adam, David,(1987) The Cry of the Deer , London, Triangle/SPCKAdam, David,(1985) The Edge of, London, Triangle/SPCKGlory Backhouse,H & Pipe,R ( Eds)( 1987) Revelations of Divine Love – Mother Julian ofNorwich , London, Hodder & StoughtonBamford, C & Marsh,WP (1986) Celtic Christianity – Ecology and Holiness, Edinburgh, FlorisBradley,I (2003) The Celtic Way, London , Darton-Longman-ToddCahill,T (1995) How the Irish Saved Civilization - New York, DoubledayBeresford-Ellis,P (1992) Celtic Inheritance – London, ConstablLleelyn,R (1990) The Dart of Longing Love – Daily Readings from the Cloud of Unknowing,London, Darton-Longman-ToddMatthews,J & C (1993) The little Book of Celtic Wisdom, Dorset, ElementMatthews,C (1994) The little Book of Celtic Blessings, Dorset, ElementMatthews,C (1989) THe Celtic Tradition , Dorset, ElementMcKinney,D ( 2004) Walking the Mist- Celtic Spirituality for the 21st Century, London ,Hodder& StoughtonO Fiannachta,P (1988) Saltair – Prayers from the Irish Tradition , Dublin, Columba PressO Malley,B ( 1998) Celtic Blessings , Norwich, Canterbury PressO Malley,B ( 2002) A Celtic Primer , Norwich, Canterbury PressStreit, Jakob (1977) Sun and Cross, Edinburgh, Floris PressTobin, G (1999), The Wisdom of St Patrick, New Yourk, BallantineToulson, S (1993) The Celtic Year, Dorset, ElementVardey,L (1996) God In All Worlds, New York, Vintage Books©Peter Creagh (2005,2010) Celtic Christianity – A Series of Lenten Reflections