22nd September

The Glow Of The Spirit

Be aglow with the Spirit. Romans 12: 11

If you would get the centre of your soul right, you should first of all get ready the needed materials, so that the heavenly Architect can begin to make the building. The house must be light and airy, with windows, which are the five senses, so that the light of heaven, the Sun of righteousness, can penetrate to our inner dwelling. The door of the house is Christ in person, for he said ‘I am the door.’

When mind and heart are united in prayer, without any distraction, you feel that spiritual warmth which comes from Christ and fills the whole inner being with joy and peace. We have to withdraw from the visible world so that the light of Christ can come down into our heart. Closing our eyes, concentrating our attention on Christ, we must try to unite the mind with the heart, and, from the depths of our whole being, we must call on the Name of our Lord, saying ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me a sinner.’

To the degree that love for the Lord Jesus warms the human heart, one finds in the Name of Jesus a sweetness that is the source of abiding peace.
Seraphim of Zarov

Let us recall again St. Patrick’s experience:

The love and fear of God increased more and more in me and my faith began to grow, and my spirit to be stirred up, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and nearly as many at night, even when I was staying out in the woods or on the mountain. And I used to rise before dawn for prayer, in snow and frost and rain, and I used to feel no ill effect and there was no slackness in me. I now realise it was because the Spirit was glowing in me.
St. Patrick

Eternal Creator of day and night
cleanse us by your refining fire
kindle in us the Pentecostal flame
and make our hearts burn with heavenly desires

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21st September

‘Acquire’ The Holy Spirit

‘Give us some of your oil for our lamps.’ They replied ‘We may not have enough; go and buy some for yourselves.’ Matthew 25: 8, 9.

The oil in this parable, as we shall see, represents God’s Holy Spirit.

The Celtic tradition of hermits living close to God and nature was lost or overlaid in the West; but in the East this tradition continued and, in a country such as Russia, it flowered in the tradition of the Staretz, or holy hermit who lived alone, but in deep solidarity with the people of his neighbourhood. Seraphim was a notable Russian Staretz of the nineteenth century whom I look upon as a Soul Friend for followers of Celtic spirituality. He once had this conversation about the Holy Spirit, sitting on a stool by his cell in the forest, with young Nicholas Motovilov, whom he called Friend of God:

‘When you were a child you wanted to know the purpose of the Christian life but none of the ecclesiastics told you. I will try to tell you. Prayer and good works are good, but they are only means to an end. The true end of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit’. ‘What do you mean by acquisition?’ Nicholas asked. ‘You know what it means to earn money, don’t you? Well, the Holy Spirit is also capital, but eternal capital. Our Lord compares our life to trading and says “Buy gold from me” (Revelation 3.18). Good works, if they are done for the love of Christ, bring us the fruits of the Holy Spirit.

In the parable of the virgins at a wedding (Matthew 25. 9-15) the foolish virgins were told to buy oil for their lamps. What they were lacking was the grace of the Holy Spirit. So you see that the one essential thing is not just to do good, but to acquire the Holy Spirit as the one eternal treasure which will never pass away….

This Holy Spirit, the All-powerful, takes up his dwelling in us and prepares in our souls and bodies a dwelling place for the Father.’
Seraphim of Zarov

Come Holy Ghost, our souls inspire
And lighten with celestial fire.
Thou the anointing Spirit art,
Who dost Thy sevenfold gifts impart.
Veni Creator, Nineth. Century

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20th September

Earth

The Lord knows what we are made of, that we are but dust. Our days are but as grass. Psalm 103: 14, 15

Earth to earth, ashes to ashes.
Funeral Service, Book of Common Prayer

To be of the earth is to know the restlessness of being a seed
the darkness of being planted
the struggle towards the light
the pain of growth into the light
the joy of bursting and bearing fruit
the love of being food for someone
the scattering of your seeds
the decay of the seasons
the mystery of death
and the miracle of birth.
John Soos

Earth teach me stillness as the grasses are stilled with light
Earth teach me suffering as old stones suffer with memory
Earth teach me humility as blossoms are humble with beginning
Earth teaching me caring as the mother who secures her young
Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone
Earth teach me limitation as the ant which crawls on the ground
Earth teach me freedom as the eagle which soars in the sky
Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall
Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring
Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life
Earth teach me to remember kindness as dry fields weep for rain.
Ute Prayer

Creator, make me malleable, like your earth
Saviour, make me humble, like your earth
Spirit, make me receptive, like your earth

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19th September

Fire

Jesus said: I came to bring fire to the earth. Luke 12: 49

From the age of eight until he entered a monastery Cuthbert was brought up by a Christian nanny named Kenswith, a widow who had become a nun. Cuthbert always called her ‘mother’ and often visited her in her old age. Once when he was lodging in his ‘mother’s’ village a house on the eastern edge caught fire and a fierce wind blew the flames towards the houses, looking set to cause a conflagration.

A panic-stricken Kenswith ran to the house where Cuthbert was staying and begged him to ask God to save their homes. Cuthbert calmly turned to her with the words ‘Don’t worry, the flames will do no harm’. Then he lay prostrate on the earth outside the house and prayed silently. As he was praying a strong, fresh wind arose from the west and drove the flames away from the houses, so that no harm was caused. The people were not ungrateful; they took the trouble to give thanks to the Lord.

Fire is a powerful force and, as this story illustrates, can destroy; but it is also a positive force, and is a biblical symbol of God’s Spirit. The term ‘Celtic fire’ is used to describe the living faith at the heart of the Celtic peoples. This was symbolised by the fire that, in monasteries, as in homes, was kept alight night and day. It was said that the fire at Brigid’s monastery at Kildare was kept alight for a thousand years.

Thank you, Father, for your free gift of fire
because it is through fire that you draw near to us every day;
It is with fire that you constantly bless us.
Our Father, bless this fire today.
With your power enter into it.
Make this fire a worthy thing.
A thing that carries your blessing.
Let it become a reminder of your love.
A reminder of life without end.
Make the life of this people be baptised like this fire.
A thing that shines for the sake of people.
A thing that shines for your sake.
Father, heed this sweet smelling smoke.
Make their life also sweet smelling.
A holy thing.
A thing fitting for you.
A Masai prayer

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18th September

Water

‘Whoever believes in me, life-giving streams of water will pour out from their heart’. Jesus said this about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were going to receive. John 7: 38, 39

The author of life is the fountain of life… Let us seek the fountain of life, the fountain of living water, like intelligent and most wise fish, that there we may drink the living water that springs up to eternal life.
Columbanus

Slake your thirst from the streams of the divine fountain. The fountain of life calls to us: ‘Let whoever is thirsty come to me and drink’.

Take note what you are to drink; remember what God spoke through Jeremiah: ‘They have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and drunk from leaking cisterns.’. The person who thus drinks is the person who loves, who draws satisfaction from the Word of God, who adores, who yearns, who burns with the love of wisdom…
Adapted from the Gaelic

Fechin had a God-given ability to cause water to flow in dry places. St. Fechin’s well, in County Sligo, Ireland, marks the place where he prayed for a source of water for a parched region. At Fore, life was so hard for the monks that Fechin hewed out rock with his own hands until water burst through. At Omly, he immersed the entire pagan population in the waters of baptism. At his death in 665 a friend saw a light so bright that all Ireland’s demons fled for a time.

What would the world be
Once bereft of wet and of wildness?
Let them be left, O let them be left
Wetness and wildness.
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Bathe us in your cleansing rivers.
Soak us in your healing waters.
Drench us in your powerful down-falls.
Cool us in your bracing baths.
Refresh us in your sparkling streams.
Master us in your mighty seas.
Calm us by your quiet pools

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17th September

Wind

The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit. John 2: 8

Breathe in Christ with every breath.
Antony of Egypt

Long years ago across the western water
Winds brought to this our shore
One glorious within, a king’s own daughter
To teach our land Christ’s law.
Cornish hymn for St. Buryan (who landed near St. Ives with Piran)

Blessed be the wind
Without wind most of the earth would be uninhabitable
The tropics would grow so unbearably hot.
Lyall Watson

Once when Columba was at sea a great storm, with gusts of wind blowing from all sides, arose and his boat was buffeted by great waves. Columba tried to help the sailors bail out the water that came into the boat, but they said to him: ‘Your doing this does little to help us in this danger. You would do better to pray for us as we perish’. Columba stopped bailing water, and began to pour out prayers aloud to God. Marvellous to relate, as soon as he stood up in the prow and raised his hands to God the wind ceased and the sea stilled. The crew were amazed and gave glory to God.
Adamnan

Wind, wind blow on me
Blow away the cobwebs that clog the spirit
Blow up the suffocating airs of unbelief
Blow near the things that are pure and good
Blow through me the breath of God’s presence
Blow me along the path of your choice

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16th September

Persevere

I have done my best in the race, I have run the full distance, I have kept the Faith. And now the prize of victory is waiting for me. 2 Timothy 4: 7, 8.

Why were the saints saints? Because they were cheerful when it was difficult to be cheerful, patient when it was difficult to be patient; and because they pushed on when they wanted to stand still, and kept silent when they wanted to talk, and were agreeable when they wanted to be disagreeable. That was all. It was quite simple and always will be.
Anon

Wales’ saint David is a fine example of somebody who persevered in and out of season. The wife of the local chief tried to get rid of his monastery, then to corrupt his monks, who pressed David to move it elsewhere even though God had clearly led them to that site. As we have seen, David stood firm, and in the end, due to this promiscuous woman over-reaching herself, she herself had to flee. David’s biographer observed that his purpose ‘was neither dissolved nor softened by prosperity, nor terrified when weakened by adversity’.

The four securities of the children of Life: the wearing away of the passions, fear of the pains, love of the sufferings, belief in the rewards. If the passions were not worn away, they would not be left behind. If the pains were not feared, they would not be guarded against. If the sufferings were not loved, they would not be endured. If the rewards were not believed in, they would not be attained.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

Never give up. Never never give up. Never, never, never give up.
The entire speech Winston Churchill gave at a school prize-giving..

O God
when we your servants are called upon
to undertake any task
whether it be small or great
help us to know that
it is not the beginning of the task
but the continuing of it to the end
which yields the true glory.
Inspired by words of Sir Francis Drake

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15th September

Divine Guidance

I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go. Psalm 32: 8

Towards the end of the ninth century the monks of Lindisfarne set sail for Ireland to escape a renewed Viking invasion. They took with them their priceless book, now known as The Lindisfarne Gospels. Tragically, they hit bad weather, the boat heeled over to one side, and the copy of the Gospels, adorned with gold figures, fell overboard and sank to the bottom of the sea.

The monks postponed their voyage and returned to dry land. There they were given a vision, in which God directed them to go to the shore at Whithorn, the Christian community on the western coast of Scotland, founded by Ninian. When they arrived there they found that, due to an unusually low tide, the sea had receded much further out than usual. They went a mile or two out from the shore. There, to their amazement and joy, they found their precious volume, still with the covers clasped together. The gold was unspoilt, and the colours had not run. Nobody could have guessed that it had ever had contact with water.
Recorded in Symeon’s History of the Church of Durham 12th. century

Men and women guided by God are the greatest forces in shaping history
Dutch atomic scientist

The Holy Spirit is the most intelligent source of information in the world.
Frank Buchman

Lord, you have a plan
for every person
and for every situation in the world.
But we are so dim.
We are so deaf.
Help us to be become wholly God-guided instruments
and to always be in just the place you wish us to be

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14th September

Silence

Let a person dwell alone in silence, for the Lord has laid this upon them. Lamentations of Jeremiah 3: 28

God calls most, if not all, of us to sometimes draw apart and be silent. And God calls some people to make this the main call upon their lives. Solitaries who are following such a call (as distinct from people who are running away from something) should be encouraged. In The Catalogue of the Saints of Ireland there was an entire order of such people – anchorites.

An old Celtic word for prayer meant literally ‘the quiet of Christ’. The Celtic Christians learned the value of silence from the desert fathers and mothers.

It was said that Abba Agatha carried a pebble in his mouth for three years until he learned to be silent.
Sayings of the Desert Fathers

Allow me with your peace and charity to remain in silence in these woods.
Columbanus in a Letter to the French Bishops

Silence is the element in which great things fashion themselves together.
Thomas Carlysle

Souls of prayer are souls of deep silence. That is why we must accustom ourselves to deep stillness of the soul. God is the friend of silence. See how nature, the trees, the flowers, the grass grow in deep silence. See how the stars, the moon, and the sun move in silence. The more we receive in our silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. Silence gives us a new way of looking at everything. We need this silence in order to touch souls. Jesus is waiting for us in the silence. It is there that he speaks to our souls. Interior silence is very difficult but we must make the effort to pray. A soul of prayer can make progress without recourse to words by learning to be present to Christ. In silence we find a new energy and a real unity.
Mother Teresa

In silence I become aware of you, O Lord
In the silence I adore you, O Lord
In the silence my sins stand out and are washed away
In the silence my problems fall into their rightful place.
In the silence I become a grateful person
And in the silence, O Lord, we become one

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13th September

Listening

If you have ears to hear with, then listen! Matthew 11: 15

Go to your cell; it will teach you all things.
Saying of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Be slow to anger, quick to learn, also slow to speak, as St. James’ says, and equally quick to listen.
Columbanus

By quietly listening to the description of the stages, transitions, and miraculous deeds of a saint’s life, we can begin to discern and appreciate our life patterns as well as our own kinship with Jesus.
Edward C. Sellner Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

God gave us two ears and one mouth. Why don’t we listen twice as much as we talk?
Chinese proverb

Listen …
to the fragile feelings, not to the clashing fury
to the quiet sounds, not to the loud clamour
to the steady heartbeat, not to the noisy confusion
to the hidden voices, not to the obvious chatter
to the deep harmonies, not to the surface discord
Anonymous

You be my wisdom, you my true Word,
I ever with you, and you with me Lord
You my great Father and I your true son
You in me dwelling and I with you one.
Irish 8th. century

Lord, a thousand voices shout at me this day,
sound-bites and slogans, images and screens,
conversations and traffic, newspapers and internet…
Help me to filter out and turn away
all that is not of you,
and to spot and hold to
all that is of you

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