Deus, Meus et Omnia; a motto of the Franciscan order of monks. If you watched the video link from my last blog entitled, The Cosmic Christ: Through Him, With Him, In Him; we are travelling together along a journey that invites and invokes us into deeper spaces of intimacy within the heart of the Cosmic Christ; the Universal Christ; to see beyond our familiar landscapes to infinite panoramas whose clues lie within and whose destinations lie beyond our human understanding. We are approaching, gently, tenderly in His loving grace and bidding; the place of our Soul’s revival, abiding within the heart of the Christ.
We have no real idea of what we call ‘Celtic’ Spirituality actually resembled in any definite form, but we do have tantalising glimpses of what underpinned it; in how they chose to express it in poetry, written by the monks of Iona dated between AD563 and 704; which illuminate the philosophical and spiritual world of the island monastery. In the book entitled ‘Iona’ by Thomas Owen Clancy, a Research Fellow at Edinburgh and Gilbert Markus, A Dominican Friar, we even have a work on religious life by a pupil of St Columba himself. This piece takes us back far enough to glimpse primary sources of practices and faith. Ongoing research as for example in the book, ‘ Where Three Streams Meet’ by Sean O Duinn OSB, open up and reveal this distictive stream of Christianity which flowed into and compliments the other streams yet retains its own unique style. In the writings of John O Donohue we see this inheritance, richly reflected in daily life, alive and developing within the hearts and minds of ordinary folk, in their work and their daily practices, retaining this inner knowing and expression of ancient belonging and being, called here from the invisible to the visible realm with our birth. Celtic spirituality marries and mirrors the Cosmic Christ perfectly through its expression and its representations. The Celtic Cross, the circle, the patterns that have no beginning and no end; and the emphasis on the immenance of God. What was and remains important was to build up the awareness of God who is nearer to us than ourselves, and this gave rise to the ‘paidreacha duchais’, or folk prayers that bring God into the everyday life of ordinary folk as they go about their normal daily tasks. There were prayers for rising, going to bed, blessing the bed, milking the cow, seeing the moon and so on, and these prayers and rituals built on and reminded the individual constantly of the awareness of God in ther everday life. Their aim was to become united with God. Every waking moment attention could be focused on God through every action, each step, each note of a birds song. This richness is full and pregnant with possibility of mystical encounter and transformation. As the relationship builds between us and God through the energy and love of the Christ and the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, we begin to glimpse the Universal nature of things and the Eternal moment of now. This is a way of being and living for those of us who inhabit the monastery without walls. It trespasses boundaries of perception that divide people within traditional structure. I have found that it enables a wealth of expression and belonging, for all is encompassed and nurtured within the circle, and none is excluded. The first monks preached to the birds and animals as well as humans, seeing them all as part of Gods wondrous creation, even calling them brothers and sisters in Christ. Why would they do this, if it was not an absolute understanding, that all life partakes and is equal in God’s love of His creation.
This short beautiful devotion was said by the women of the homes on the Hebridean Isles in Scotland. They would say this prayer as they exposed the fire for the new day that had been covered with ashes the night before. They would have also have been aware of the symbol of this ritual of the fire being covered/hidden/dying; yet able to spring back into life and burn as brightly as before and would have thought of Jesus’ death and resurrection whilst reciting this.
In all traditions the flame is a sign of spiritual enlightenment, purification and love. It is a symbol of the spirit and of transcendence. Although few will understand it in its orginal Gaelic, I feel it is important to include it in its original language because of the power the words carry. When you read it through in your mind,you may feel something of the circular rhythm contained within this beautiful language which adds to its context. The ritual is called Smáladh na Tine. The image underneath is of a Celtic Knot on fire.
Togfaidh mé mo thine inniu
I láthair aingeal naofa neimhe,
I láthair Airil is aille cruth,
I láthair Uiril na-n-uile scéimh,
Gan fuath, gan tnúth, gan formad,
Gan eagla, gan uamhan neach faoin ngréin,
Agus Naomh Mhac Dé do m’ thearmann.
A Dhiah, adraigh féin I mo chroí istigh
Aibhleog an ghrá
Do m’ namhaid, do mo ghaol, do m’chairde,
Don saoi, don daoi, don tráill,
A Mhic Mhuire mhín ghil,
Ón ní isislecrannchuire
Go dtí an t-ainm is airde.
I will build up my fire today in the presence of the holy angels in heaven, in the presence of Airil of the most beautiful form, in the presence of Uiril of all beauty, without hate, without envy, without rivalry, without fear, without horror of anyone under the sun, for I have the Holy Son of God as my sanctuary.
O, God enkindle in my innermost heart the flaming spark of love for my enemy, for my relative, for my friends, for the wise person, for the foolish person, for the unfortunate person, O Son of gentle shining Mary, from the lowest most perverse person to the one of highest fame.