1st October

The Wild Spirit

In the beginning, when God created the universe, the earth was without form and void … and the spirit of God moved over the face of the waters. Genesis 1: 1, 2

The Hebrew word for ‘spirit’ used in this passage also means ‘power’ , or ‘awesome wind’. Jesus said that God’s Spirit is like the wind that blows where it wills: it may be a gale or it may be a breeze; and there is no point in us trying to control it.

Non-religious people over the millennia have tried to ignore the Spirit of God; religious people have tried to tame the Spirit. Some of the Celtic Christians knew better than to do either. That is no doubt why Celts have used the symbol of the Wild Goose for the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is not a tame bird, kept in a clean cage, to be released for short bursts at charismatic meetings….. The Holy Spirit makes his habitation in some of the wildest and darkest places this world has to offer…. The Holy Spirit is wonderfully free, able to go to the dark places of our own lives, for healing, to the dark unvisited places of our churches, and to the dark and demon-infested places of our society.
Michael Mitton

Spirit of God, be wild and free in me.
Batter my proud and stubborn will
Blow me where you choose
Break me down if you must
Re-fashion me as you will
Move me powerfully away
From the games I play
in order to try and tame you.
Lead me into the wild places
the places of dream or scream
the new frontiers or the total quiet
the long dark tunnels
or the wide, sunny vistas
to speak to lions
to move mountains
to bear tragedy
to mirror you

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30th September

The Heart – A Fire Or An Icicle?

I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. Jeremiah 31: 33

God warms the heart and inward parts. When we feel a chill in our hearts coming from the devil (for the devil is cold) let us call on the Lord. God will come and warm us with perfect love, not only love for himself but for our neighbour as well; and at the touch of this fire Satan’s chill will vanish.

Nothing so much as idle words has power to extinguish that fire brought by Christ and enkindled in our heart by the Holy Spirit.

When mind and heart are united in prayer and the soul is wholly concentrated in a single desire for God, then the heart grows warm and the light of Christ begins to shine and fills the inward being with peace and joy.

One must constantly watch over the heart. The heart cannot live unless it is full of that water which boils in the heat of the divine fire. Without that water the heart grows cold and becomes like an icicle.
Seraphim of Zarov

The person who will not have fear of God will not have love of God. The person who will not have love of God will not have fulfilment of God’s commandment. The person who will not have fulfilment of God’s commandment will not have eternal life in heaven. For fear underlies love. Love underlies holy work. Holy work underlies eternal life in heaven.

Love of the living God cleanses the soul. It satisfies the mind. It increases rewards. It drives out vices. It despises the world. It cleanses, it concentrates thoughts.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

Kindle in our hearts, O God
the flame of that love which never ceases
that it may burn in us, giving light to others.
May we shine for ever in your temple,
set on fire with your eternal light,
even your Son Jesus Christ,
our Saviour and our Redeemer.
Columba

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29th September

Michael – Angel Leader

Then Michael, one of the chief angels, came to help me, because I had been left there alone. Daniel 10: 13

In the New Testament Michael is named as the chief of the angels (Jude 9). The Book of Revelation depicts him as throwing down the dragon, a picture of Satan, who can come in the form of anti-Christ in any age. The first Celtic evangelists introduced Christianity to a society that was under the spell of many kinds of magical and unseen powers. They often built places of Christian worship on high places that had previously been dedicated to such powers; and these churches were often dedicated to Michael. Two well known examples of such Celtic foundations, built as a result of God giving direction to a Christian leader in the area, are Mont St. Michel in Britanny and St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall.

Thou Michael the victorious
I make my circuit under thy shield
Thou Michael of the white steed
And of the brilliant blades
Conqueror of the dragon
Be thou at my back
Thou ranger of the heavens
Thou warrior of the King of all
O Michael victorious
My pride and my guide
O Michael the victorious
The glory of mine eye.
I make my circuit
In the fellowship of the saint
On the grass sward, on the meadow
On the cold leathery hill.
Though I should travel ocean
And the hard globe of the world
No harm can ever befall me
Neath the shelter of thy shield
O Michael victorious
The jewel of my heart
O Michael the victorious
God’s shepherd thou art
Carmina Gadelica

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28th September

Seek The Supreme Illumination

I pray that you may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you… be completely filled with the very nature of God. Ephesians 3: 17, 18, 19.

To receive and be aware of the light of Christ within one, it is necessary to withdraw from outward things, as far as this can be done. After purifying one’s soul by contrition and good works and proclaiming one’s faith in Christ crucified, a person should shut their eyes and concentrate on bringing their mind down into the depths of their heart, ardently calling on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then according to the ardour of their heart for the Beloved, they will find a sweetness, through inviting the Name, that evokes a longing to seek the supreme illumination. When the mind is concentrated in the heart through this exercise, then the light of Christ begins to shine, lighting up the temple of the soul with its radiance.

Lost in contemplation of the uncreated Beauty, a person forgets the things of the senses, even themself, and prefers to be buried in the earth rather than lose their unique treasure – God.
St. Seraphim of Zarov

Faith with action, desire with constancy, calmness with devotion, chastity with humility, fasting with moderation, poverty with generosity, silence with discussion, distribution with equality, endurance without grievance, abstinence with exposure, zeal without severity, gentleness with justice, confidence without neglect, fear without despair, poverty without pride, confession without excuse, teaching with practice, progress without slipping, lowliness towards the haughty, smoothness towards the rough, work without grumbling, simpleness with wisdom, humility without favouritism, the Christian life without pretence -all these are contained in holiness. It is then that a person is holy, when he or she is full of divine love.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

May I be lost in wonder, love and praise

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27th September

The Fulness Of The Holy Spirit

Be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5: 18

In 1931 Seraphim asked his young God-seeker, Motovilov:
‘What are you feeling, friend of God?’. ‘I’m amazingly warm’ his friend replied. ‘Warm? What are you saying my friend? We are in the depths of the forest, in mid-winter, the snow lies under our feet and is settling on our clothes. How can you be warm?’ ‘It’s the warmth one feels in a hot bath’. ‘Does it smell like that?’ ‘Oh no! Nothing on earth can compare to this. There’s no scent in all the world like this one!’ ‘I know,’ said Father Seraphim, ‘for it is the same with me. I’m only questioning you to find out what you are discovering. It is indeed true, friend of God, that no scent on earth can compare to this fragrance, because it comes from the Holy Spirit… The warmth isn’t in the air, it is within us. This is what the Holy Spirit causes us to ask God for when we cry to him “Kindle in us the fire of the Holy Spirit”. Warmed by it, hermits are not afraid of winter hardship, protected as they are by the mantle of grace which the Holy Spirit has woven for them … Now you know, my friend, what it is like to be in the fullness of the Holy Spirit.’
Seraphim of Zarov

The fifteen strengths of the soul: the strength of faith, the strength of gentleness, the strength of humility, the strength of patience, the strength of mortification, the strength of obedience, the strength of charity, the strength of justice, the strength of mercy, the strength of generosity, the strength of forgiveness, the strength of serenity, the strength of moderation, the strength of holiness, the strength of divine love.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

Spirit of God
the breath of creation is yours.
Spirit of God
the groans of the world are yours.
Spirit of God
the wonder of communion is yours.
Spirit of God
the fire of love is yours.
And we are filled
And we are filled

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26th September

Baptized in the Spirit

He will baptise you with holy spirit and with fire. Luke 3: 16

As Seraphim enthused about people in the Bible whose lives overflowed with the Holy Spirit , his young friend Nicholas Motovilov interjected: ‘But how can I know that I myself have this grace of the Holy Spirit?’

Seraphim gripped him firmly by the shoulders and said: ‘My friend, both of us this moment are in the Holy Spirit, you and I. Why don’t you look at me?’

‘I can’t look at you, because the light flashing from your eyes and face is brighter than the sun and I am dazzled!’ Nicholas replied. ‘Don’t be afraid, friend of God, you yourself are shining just like I am; you, too are now in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see me as you do’.

Nicholas later wrote about what he saw: ‘You can see only the blinding light which spreads everywhere, lighting up the layers of snow covering the glade, and igniting the flakes that are falling on us both like white power.’

Then Seraphim drew out of him, step by step, what he was feeling ‘An amazing well-being… a great calm in my soul… a peace which no words can express… a strange unknown delight… an amazing happiness..’. Seraphim related each of these to experiences recounted in the Bible.
Seraphim of Zarov

In whom does the Holy Spirit dwell? In the one who is pure without sin. It is then that a person is a vessel of the Holy Spirit, when the virtues have come in place of the vices.
Colman mac Beognae The Alphabet of Devotion

O Thou who camest from above
The pure, celestial fire to impart
Kindle a flame of sacred love
On the mean altar of my heart.
Charles Wesley

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25th September

The Peace Of The Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is … peace. Galations 5: 22..

Learn to be peaceful, and thousands around you will find salvation… There is nothing better than peace in Christ, for it brings victory over all the evil spirits on earth and in the air. When peace dwells in a person’s heart it enables them to contemplate the grace of the Holy Spirit from within. The person who lives in peace collects spiritual gifts as it were with a scoop, and sheds the light of knowledge on others. All our thoughts, all our desires, all our efforts, and all our actions should make us say constantly with the Church: ‘O Lord, give us peace!’. When a person lives in peace, God reveals mysteries to them.
Seraphim

Live in peace
Columbanus

Peace of all felicity
Peace of shining clarity
Peace of joys consolatory.
Peace of souls in surety
Peace of heaven’s futurity
Peace of virgin’s purity.
Peace of the enchanted bowers
Peace of calm reposing hours
Peace of everlasting, ours.
George McLean (trans) Poems of the Western Highlanders

Deep peace of the quiet earth
Deep peace of the still waters
Deep peace of the setting sun
Deep peace of the forgiving heart
Deep peace of the true call
Deep peace of the Son of Peace
Be ours, today, for ever

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24th September

The Joy Of The Spirit

The fruit of the Spirit is.. joy. Galations 5: 22.

The expression on his face seemed so extra-ordinary. A light shone from within, illuminating his features. His whole being seemed enfolded in the grace of the Holy Spirit and raised above the earth.

He spoke to me about the heavenly joys of those who have a share in God’s glory. It was as though he himself was actually living all this at that very moment, partaking of this bliss and enabling me to live it with him. He seemed unable to find words to express what he was experiencing, so he ended: ‘O my joy, such bliss, such beatitude, I cannot describe it all!’
Anne Eropkine, describing her visit to Fr. Seraphim in 1830

When Cuthbert returned to the Farne Isle to lead the life of a hermit ‘he spent almost two months greatly rejoicing in his new found quiet’. Once he sent some visitors on their way with the injunction to cook the goose that was hanging in the visitors’s hut. They in fact left it there, having plenty of food, but then they found the weather turned against them and they could not sail for day after day. Eventually Cuthbert went over to their hut and explained ‘with unruffled mien and even with joyful words’ that their problems were caused by their failure to eat the goose as he had advised. They immediately cooked the goose, and the weather immediately became fair. They returned home with some feelings of shame because they had not taken Cuthbert’s words seriously, but with even greater feelings of joy, because they realised God took such good care of his servant Cuthbert that he even used the elements to give a gentle rebuke to those who took his words too lightly. They rejoiced because the Creator took such good care of themselves that he corrected them by means of a miracle.

Grant me the grace to appreciate your providence
to contemplate your glory
and to become part of creation’s song of joy

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23rd September

Spring Cross-Roads

Listen! Wisdom is calling out. Reason is making herself heard. … at the cross-roads she stands. Proverbs 8: 1

The Spring Equinox, one of the two days in the year when day and night are of equal length, owing to the sun’s crossing of the equator, is also St. Cuthbert’s Day:

As the heralds of Spring
golden trumpet
the arrival of Easter,
as the dark night of Lent passes
and the days lengthen
so like Cuthbert,
bright star of the North,
we would become
your Easter people, O Christ,
shepherds of your sheep,
peace makers and hospitality givers
open to change and partnership
Spirit led, in solitude and costly service.
Kate Mcllhagga Cuthbert’s Folk

I also omit how Cuthbert saw the soul of a farm manager carried up to the sky at his death; how he wonderfully sent demons packing; or how he healed people of disturbed mind through his prayers.
The Anonymous Life of Cuthbert

God of Spring-time
While the sun is crossing over the equator
may I be crossing over
from dark to light
from complaining to appreciation
from dither to boldness
from stagnation to creativity
from coldness to love
from me to you

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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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