Mid Week Reflection and Prayer

Welcome to a new series of prayerful reflections

This series of prayerful reflections are influenced by the Celtic tradition and the Christian men and women who brought a richness to Christian Spirituality from their Celtic background. Our journey will be a slow one, our paths will cross the early saints and their lives and the sacred places where they lived and are marked today as sacred places. Our journey will not involve exploring, the perhaps dusty volumes that rest in libraries or fill our eBooks app. If you wish to make a more academic study, please feel free, there is much to grapple with and to learn by such an approach. Our journey is different, not better, just different. There will be some notes but hopefully not too long and not getting in the way of our prayerful reflections.

The majority of prayers have been composed by John Birch, John has produced a number of volumes of accessible prayers in conventional formats and electronically.
I wrote to John requesting his permission to use his material in these reflections and also to use them in occasional Compline on YouTube. I had a prompt reply:

Hi Derek
Thanks for the query and yes, feel free to use the material, it’s written to be used! Regards John

I am grateful his permission, John’s work can be found at www.faithandworship.com. Please do contact his web site for more details of his publications. It is worth a visit!

What is Celtic Spirituality?

Firstly, what is Christian Spirituality? The truth is that there is no single definition and people will argue about definitions. I am not going to join them, spiritually has many forms and shapes. Within these shapes and forms we can understand what spirituality is about. It is about who we are and how we live out our lives, how see people and our surrounding and relate to them, it is about our prayers and embracing the gospel in our every day lives and our relationships with others.

Secondly, Celtic Spirituality is the above but with an earthiness and simply living the life, following the Way, travelling the journey in the everyday ordinariness of life – the pain and the pleasure, the heartaches and the hopes, the disappointment and the dreams. This is of great importance because this is essentially what spirituality is. (Trevor Miller – the Northumbria Community)

Celtic Spirituality would have been influenced by the Celtic culture which spread across modern day western Europe and beyond. Celtic culture and spirituality was not restricted the United Kingdom and Ireland.

As we journey through life, with the ups and downs of following Jesus, it is important to remember we do not travel alone, there is ‘the great cloud of witnesses’ (Hebrews 12:1-3) who encourage us to continue our journey. Many have walked their journeys of faith and we follow along the paths they have trod.

We are following the Anglican Revised Common Lectionary, which sets out the seasons of the Church Year and the Scripture readings for each day. I will be using verses from the Sunday readings for each week. Our series starts on Trinity Sunday and we will move through the Sundays of the Trinity season.

The Legends and Traditions of Celtic Saints

It is impossible to write a series of Celtic inspired prayerful reflections without reference to the many saints that have left their mark on Celtic life. Each saint will have a story associated with them, there will be miracles and so much more. I recently came across a quote from an early 20th century writer when he was writing about St Brigid ‘In the life of the Saint . . . many legends and traditions must be introduced to stimulate devotion of the reader, and to relieve the monotony which would inevitably ensure from mere studied recital of historical detail’. (Joseph A. Knowles 1909)

I suppose the modern equivalent can be found in Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok where stories are not checked, spiced up right the way up to Fake News, who was it that got all worked up about Fake News? It would be difficult to find across history a time when spin has not been applied to stories for a variety of reasons. For our purpose in these reflections let us accept that legends have a place. They can stimulate interest and through this we find out so much about the faith, witness and loyalty to Christ.

Over the next weeks I will offer pen pictures of some of these men and women of faith. I will deliberately select some who will not be familiar to you and other whom you are perhaps familiar I will leave to one side.

I hope you will enjoy them and

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sunshine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand. (Celtic Blessing)

Derek Akker