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Belovedness

I’m not much for computer games these days, but in my younger years I enjoyed a few of them.

Jesus and John the Beloved, by John Giuliani

Jesus and John the Beloved, by John Giuliani

My best one was Sid Meier’s Civilization, a game where you could start from scratch with a group of settlers and explore and settle the world.  You decided what technology to pursue, what religion to pursue, types of government and what amenities to put in your cities.  I was good at the game, preferring a technical advancement victory to battling other civilizations.

I first played it in 1995, and they kept putting out new versions, most of which I played.   One version allowed you to customise your religion of choice, and give it a name.

When I played that game, I’d choose Christianity as the religion, but re-name it ‘Belovedness’.  No, it’s not a real word, but it should be.

Perhaps Christianity could do with a re-branding.  It seems the message that the world at large perceives from Christianity is far from one of love.  But I think that is the biggest message on the heart of God today – to communicate that we, each of us, are His beloved.

Like Brennan Manning, I think that being Beloved of God is the chief thing that we need to know about ourselves, and each other.   When we allow for our own belovedness, we can start to accept some of the glorious things he says about who we are in Christ.  This opens us to receive his love.  And when we can receive and keep on receiving that profound truth “I am beloved of God”, then that love can pour through us in ways that really matter.

This is how we can see through the eyes of God.  If we start to call and think of one another as Beloved, it reminds us that people are not the enemy – only the enemy is the enemy.  People, each of them, whether they love him back or beloved-brennanmanningnot, is the apple of God’s eye.

Think about it.  Beloved me.  Beloved you.  Beloved (insert name of your boss).  Beloved (difficult neighbour).  Beloved (sweat shop worker). Beloved Vladimir Putin.  Beloved Miley Cyrus.

How would this perspective change how we think and speak and act toward ourselves and everyone else?

How about we try it and find out?

 

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Here is a link to Teresa of Avila’s book, The Interior Castle.  You can read it online, download it, put it on a mobile device, or listen to it.  http://www.ccel.org/ccel/teresa/castle2.html

Teresa-of-Ávilas-Interior-Castle teresaavila

From the brief introduction:

…She wrote Interior Castle
as a spiritual guide to union with God. Her inspiration for the
work came from a vision she received from God. In it, there
was a crystal globe with seven mansions, with God in the
innermost mansion. St. Teresa interpreted this vision as an
allegory for the soul’s relationship with God; each mansion
represents one place on a path towards the “spiritual marriage”–i.e.
union–with God in the seventh mansion. One
begins on this path through prayer and meditation. She also
describes the resistance that the Devil places in various
rooms, to keep believers from union with God. Throughout,
she provides encouragements and advice for spiritual development…

 

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Walking the earth, but seeing beyond the veil.

Walking the earth, but seeing beyond the veil.

Although it’s not been overtly stated, St Columba is extremely special to me.

This very blog was named in honour of him, and in hope of one day emulating him.  He was trained in his youth by a Christian Bard and Theologian called Gemman.  He loved the Psalms, often repeating all 150 in a single night.  Many of his prayers are also poems or songs, and are recorded.  He was extremely musical and had a powerful voice.  He was extremely mystical and aware of the unseen.  He had an intimate sense of God’s presence, which he expressed often in relation to nature.

Walking Iona, with the powerful sea winds and arresting topography, I found greater understanding of his prayers and his heart.  It was easy to identify with his favourite term for God, “Lord of the Elements”.

My favourite prayer of his, which I use regularly in meditation, sprang to life as walked in places that would likely have influenced it.  As photos become available (still having technical difficulty getting them into WordPress from iPhoto)  I will share them with the prayer.  But here are just the words for now, as I loved and breathed them long before going to Iona.

Lord, You are my island
in Your bosom I rest

You are the calm of the sea
in that peace I lie

You are deep waves of the ocean
in their depth I stay

You are the smooth white strand of the shore
in its swell, I sing

You are the ocean of life that laps my being
in You is my eternal joy!

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I am back from my pilgrimage to Iona now, and back more fully into my life.  The great upheaval in my life since my Dad died in May begins to abate, and I look forward to a more stable and consistent presence here on the website and in connection to my fellow monks from here on.

I’m planning to do a number of posts about my Iona pilgrimage, and I’d wanted to include pictures but apparently there’s an issue with that at the moment!  What  I can show now is a 3 minute video of me dancing before the Lord in Iona Abbey.  You can see me do a double-take when I notice someone is watching and recording!  My dance is intended as an act of worship, not performance, so I hope it turns your heart toward our awesome Creator as you watch.  I’m told it is more effective watched at full screen.  I normally smile more while dancing, but I was a little sad at the time.

 

 

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Enemies have driven me into your embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world. Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath your tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. I bless them and do not curse them.


They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord, I bless them and do not curse them.


Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of your garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. I bless them and do not curse them.


Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to You may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins, arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

ah, so that I may for once be freed from self-deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand. But a son blesses them, for he understands.

For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life.

Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

—St. Nikolai Velimirovich, in the book Prayers By the Lake (A Treasury of Serbian Orthodox Spirituality, Volume 5)

Posted in the context of remembering America’s 9-11 tragedy by Reddit user StandardToaster895.

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This Bell Tower from the 6th Century still stands

This Bell Tower from the 6th Century still stands

For insight in developing a Prayer rhythm, I encourage all monks to visit the Refectorium and check on a discussion in Fireside Fellowship called “August Approaches”.   Check out what other monks are doing  as part of their daily prayer, and share your own methods and struggles.

Consistency can be difficult to develop.  While far less precisely dictated than the Benedictine Daily Office, Celtic monasteries of the Celi Dei period were famous for their bell towers, some of which still stand.  The point of the bell tower was to toll the bells to mark the Hours, so that everyone knew to stop and pray.  This was practiced by both scholars and farmers, the high towers allowing the sound to carry a great distance.

Brother J and I are considering offering automated email reminders to pray the Hours for those desiring that external nudge to help us keep focused.   I cannot say how much I would rather make my way up a curving stair to pull a bell that would then chime and echo around a green valley, but I suppose it is the function that we’re after here, rather than the form.  Please contact me if this is of interest to you.  I think we could make it work regardless of time zone.

raysimpsonAnother great resource for developing Celtic understanding and lifestyle is Ray Simpson’s website and all of his books, many of which for some reason are not mentioned on this site.  They are expensive to buy and ship from the UK I can tell you,but Amazon has some of them and others are available second hand.   There are many FREE downloads here, and I hope you take advantage of them.  http://www.raysimpson.org/downloads

If you scroll WAY down, there are downloads for “How to Make a Rule of Life” as well as introductions to full monastic teachings offered, among many others. I’m sure you’ll see more than one title that catches your eye. Writing Celtic Prayers is at the very bottom.

I am also studying some resources for learning to chant the Psalms.  We know that this was an integral element to the life of Celtic Saints, and all other Christian monastic forms.  When I’m done the two books I’m working on, I’ll post my results for your consideration.

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Peregrinatio

peregrinatiocolumbaThe Celtic way of pilgrimage “Peregrinatio pro Christo” (Exile for Christ) was usually not about reaching a destination the way most pilgrimages are, but recognising the external  journey itself as a means of progressing on one’s internal journey, the only real destination of which is to reach “the place of our resurrection” when we leave this earthly body for good.

In May 2014, my Dad ceased his journey on this earth and found the place of his resurrection.  Thanks to a small inheritance from him, in September 2014 I will go where St. Columba went in 563…to Iona.

It is a dream I had not thought I would be able to fulfill, and I am humbled and very grateful that I can.

I am well aware of the (loosely translated) quote “Go not to Rome expecting to find anything you didn’t have at home.”  An ongoing theme in my life now is to not look for external fulfillment of internal wants and needs.  Relationships,  places, things, have no ability to satisfy me.  My Source is resident within, Christ in me, the hope of glory.   I approach this pilgrimage as a vehicle for God to work what He wants in me.

St Brendan was perhaps the most famous peregrini, and this prayer, which I am taking as my own,  is attributed to him:

Help me to journey beyond the familiar, and into the unknown.  Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.  Christ of the mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me.  I will trust in the darkness, and know that my times, even now, are in Your hand.  Tune my heart to the music of heaven, and somehow, make my obedience count for You.

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Some of you may know that my Dad went to his eternal Home at the end of May.celtic_cross_green

My godmother sent me the following lovely poem as a comfort, and it blessed me so I thought I would share.  Reading it from the Celtic  Christian paradigm that all of Creation is infused with and sustained by its Creator, the Lord of the Elements, I find it gives such as sense of the immediacy of God’s presence.

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
In the curach of thought
And a stain of ocean
Blackens beneath you,
May there come across the waters
A path of yellow moonlight
To bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
May the clarity of light be yours,
May the fluency of the ocean be yours,
And may the protection of the ancestors be yours.

And so may a slow
Wind work these words
Of love around you,
An invisible cloak
To mind your life.

From Anam Cara by John O’Donohue

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Quick quote

“The Celt was very much a God-intoxicated person whose life was embraced on all sides by the divine Being.” ~John Mcquarrie

“You’re a Mysteryunicorn
Like poetry
Like a parable,

A rhyme or a riddle.

You’re a mystery
wrapped in a cloud
shouting so loud
waiting to be discovered
You’re a mystery

And I want to waste my life and search You out, search You out.”   ~Misty Edwards

I’ve hesitated to share more of my own journey on this website. It, and the Monks of Viriditas attached to it, are intended to encourage all believers, including those like me with an Evangelical background, to consider and experience the intimate connection with God available to us through such mystic practices as contemplation and lectio divina   Colossians 1:27 talks about making known “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”   Connecting with the truth of “Christ in me, the hope of glory” is precisely why we encourage contemplation so strongly.

I believe there is a great hunger for ‘real’ intimacy, ‘real’ relationship with God in we who were raised as church kids, knowing about God but missing a true experience of Him.

In the Celtic Christianity tab, we’ve deliberately been as inclusive as we can, while showing the biblical basis for the principles we embrace. Everyone who wants to is welcome to join us in exploring a mystic expression of our faith. We are clear that beyond agreement with the Creeds, and considering what’s put forth in the recommended resources, we each have our own path to follow.

No monk is required to agree with my path, but in our commitment to transparency, I feel obliged to share my process.

It’s no secret that I feel a strong connection to Scotland.  The national animal of Scotland is the Unicorn. A ‘mythic’ creature, it symbolises mystery. Beyond all our systematic theologies, our Creator remains a Mystery. Both Christ-in-me and Christ himself is described as Mystery.  In Colossians 2:2 Paul desires his hearers to “have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ.”

In January a friend sent me a link to podcasts from Scotland Ablaze.  I’m intrigued and so drawn to the teachings given there particularly by Abi Mackriell and Stephen McKie.  I’m challenged as well, and continue to work these things out with the Holy Spirit.

Following Mystery by Abi Mackriell can be listened to here.

Like the song quoted above, I want to waste my life to search this Mystery out.  I’m following the Unicorn.

 

 

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