28th October

A Heart For Everyone

When the day of Pentecost came … a large crowd gathered and they exclaimed: ‘Some of us are from Rome, both Jews and Gentiles converted to Judaism, and some of us are from Crete and Arabia – yet all of us hear these believers speaking in our own languages about the great things that God has done! Acts 2: 1, 7, 10, 11

Never fall into the trap of thinking that ‘Celtic’ means ethnic in an exclusive sense. For the essence of Celtic spirituality is a heart wide open to God in every person, in all the world. It is to do with crossing frontiers, not erecting barriers. It goes so deep that, without losing what is distinctive, it becomes universal.

Bede,the great historian of Jarrow monastery, who is honoured on this day, understood this most clearly. Despite the fact that he disliked some of the rustic habits of the Irish, he marvelled at their hospitality to foreigners:

Many in England, both nobles and commoners went to Ireland to do religious studies or to live an ascetic life. The Irish welcomed them all gladly, gave them their daily food, and also provided them with books to read and with instruction, without asking for any payment…. The Picts now have a treaty of peace with the English and rejoice to share in the catholic peace and truth of the church universal.
Under the influence of these Irish teachers the spirit of racial bitterness was checked and a new intercourse sprang up between English, Picts, Britons and Irish … the peace of Columba, the fellowship of learning and piety, rested on the peoples.
Vida D Scutta Introduction to Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People Everyman edition

Set us free, O God, to cross barriers for you,
as you crossed barriers for us.
Spirit of God, make us open to others in listening,
generous to others in giving,
and sensitive to others in praying
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Brother Barnabus SSF

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