Mid Week Reflection – Expressions of Faith
During Spring and Summer we have been on a gentle journey encountering some Celtic Saints and their expressions of faith. The timeline covered was broadly of the period from the 4th to the 7th century, the Early Middle Ages (c 476-800). Some still referred to this as the Dark Ages and their lives were undoubtedly hard in so many ways. There was, however, a flame of spiritualty that shone and spread from Northern Western France through the Southwest of England and Wales to Ireland and then on in to Scotland and Northumberland, it also touched Cumbria and the Isle of Man. This flame was the flame of the Celtic Spiritualty, their way of life. This expression of faith was largely absorbed, following the Synod of Whitby, into the structured and more authoritarian Church coming from Rome.
The flame was not extinguished and still had a foothold in Scotland, particularly the Highlands and the Isles as we saw in Carmina Gadelica.
A Celtic Cross in the sunset,
St. Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland.
Public domain – Wikimedia Commons*
I think it would be true to say that the Celtic expression of faith was also a more accurate reflection of the early church than the structured and authoritarian church that was develop of the centuries and the church we are familiar with.
The Celtic Expression of faith then and now could be was seen in the following characteristics:
- In seeing God’s character in the glory of His creation without embracing pantheism (pantheism – put simply, means there is no God but the combined forces, laws and substance that are seen in the universe)
- They also had a focus on care of creation.
- A belief in the mystery of the ‘Three’, the Trinity.
- The sharing of the Gospel stories
- An equality between men and women, women did have leadership roles alongside men within the church.
- In the past there was a greater focus on a monastic style of life whether in a specific monastery or within a family and a coming together for prayer, there was a greater sense of openness within these communities. These, at time diverse communities would be guided by a spiritual leader.
- The belief that one’s spiritual life and worldly life should be combined and never separated.
- A belief that there were “thin places”: these places were sacred sites where worshipers could sense the presence of the Spirit and feel close to God.
- The family was the focal point of life together with the extended family and local community. There was also welcoming hospitality to everyone.
- A love of art and music.
- The use of an Anam Chara, a soul friend, to assist to one’s spiritual growth. We will reflect of Anam Chara next week.
+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
whose steadfast love never ceases
and whose mercies never come to an end:
grant us the grace to trust you
and to receive the gifts of your love,
new every morning,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Common Worship Collect for the 19th Sunday of Trinity)
The Word of the Lord
(Verses from the readings from those set for the 19th Sunday of Trinity)
So teach us to number our days • that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
Turn again, O Lord; how long will you delay? • Have compassion on your servants.
Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning, • that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Give us gladness for the days you have afflicted us, • and for the years in which we have seen adversity.
Show your servants your works, • and let your glory be over their children.
May the gracious favour of the Lord our God be upon us; • prosper our handiwork; O prosper the work of our hands.
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious . . . to the remnant of Joseph.
Let us reflect on the words of the ‘Celtic Expressions of Faith’ on the previous page, are there any that strike a cord with you?
You have given us each other, that through this community of faith others might be drawn to you. Forgive us when, through lack of love these lives do not reflect your grace and our words bring anything but peace. May this place bring a blessing to all who enter, and this people become the face of Christ that they shall see today. (John Birch)
For this day of possibilities; the roads that we have walked, glances and greetings exchanged, conversations and silences, decisions made or deferred, successes and failures, prayers whispered or left unsaid, blessings given or received; for this day of possibilities and the one that is to come we give to you our thanks (John Birch)
Let us draw into our circle of prayer our:
Local church and its leaders
widening our circle to include:
those in government and positions of authority
those who are oppressed
those who are hungry and homeless
those who are ill
those facing death
Merciful Father, accept these prayers
for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
The Lord’s Prayer
+ In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Now may the God of love surround us, the God of love protect us, the God of love bring us safe through this night, and all nights, the God of love bring us awake once more to dawn’s fresh light (John Birch)
*John Birch A Fragrant Offering page 16 & 22
You may wish the finish this time of reflective prayer sitting silently and enjoying a peaceful moment or two. You may also think about listening to some music that has touched you or a favourite hymn or song. Enjoy these moments! God bless!