Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cheers and Blessings on St. Patrick's Day

Esther De Waal reminds us that the Celtic world of faith understood life as a journey rather than merely a destination. Encouraging a deeper, fuller way of being, of living within the whole of themselves and Creation, St. Patrick nurtured a nation of agrarian tribes in the baptism of their collective and fertile imaginations.

With a generous spirit of orthodoxy, the ancient Irish Christians were able to embrace the natural rhythms of Creation, both the light and the dark seasons. These seasons became symbols of the Celtic refusal to avoid pain and suffering, while at the same time rejoicing and celebrating the fullness and goodness of humanity created in the image of God.

Centuries before the Great Schism of early faith communities into Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism and long before the Reformation, Celtic Christianity was instinctively communal, shunning any separation of praying and living and working. For them faith was inseparable from ordinary life with no notions of sacred/secular divisions. All life including Creation was..."taken up by a Christianity that was not afraid of what it found but felt that it was natural to appropriate it into the fullness of Christian living."

Celtic culture shared much with the traditional and aboriginal peoples around the world who rejected overt individualistic and competitive inward-seeking lifestyles common today. They recognized themselves instead as belonging to one another and embraced life as mutually interdependent beings within the whole web of Creation.

Our quantum world and the new science that describes it today, speaks the same language of mutual holistic entanglement, linking us all together in this unfolding work of Art that we Christians call the Kingdom of God.

"The Celtic world touches all of this but yet remains totally unique, earthly, and mysterious, knowing darkness and pain but equally rejoicing in light, full of poetry and song and celebration, showing us the depths of penitence and the heights of praise, touching us in the secret hidden parts of our own selves and yet connecting us with others. So although each of us is in the end solitary, St. Patrick reminds us that we travel in company with those who have made this journey before us, by the whole company of heaven, the saints and the angels, a "cloud of witness", who surround us and who hold us up as we go."

Cheers, and enjoy the Celtic challenge!

Adapted from The Celtic Way of Prayer - The Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther De Waal

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