8th November

This Is My Body

And giving thanks, He broke and said, take, eat, this is My body which is broken on behalf of you, this do in remembrance of Me. 1 Corinthians 11: 24

Draw near, and take the body of the Lord.
The Antiphonary of Bangor, the Irish monastery founded by Comgall

When Cuthbert offered up the Saving Victim as a sacrifice to God, he offered his prayer to the Lord not by raising his voice but by shedding tears which sprang from the depth of his heart.
Bede

The table of bread and wine is now to be made ready.
It is the table of company with Jesus
And with all those who love him.
It is the table of sharing with the poor of the world,
With whom Jesus identified himself.
It is the table of communion with the earth
In which Christ became incarnate.
So, come to this table,
You who have much faith
And you who would like to have more;
You who have been to this sacrament often,
And you who have not been for a long time;
You who have tried to follow Jesus,
And you who have failed.
Come. It is Christ who invites us to meet him here.
An invitation to Communion The Iona Community

You are very welcome, O body of Christ.
It was by your death on the cross
you who were born of the fair and gentle virgin
that the human race was redeemed
that evil was conquered.
Please do not hide your faithfulness from me
a poor sinner who approaches you.
Though I have deserved your anger
please return and help me, Lord Jesus.
Collected in Inis Mean, Aran, by An tAth. Eoghan O Gramhvaigh.
From Mount Melleray Monastery, Ireland

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7th November

Petroc’s View

No god is like your God, riding in splendour across the sky, riding through the clouds to come to your aid. Deuteronomy 33: 26

Petroc sailed from Ireland, where he had trained in a monastery, to Cornwall where he founded his own monastery at Padstow (Petroc’s Stowe). A Celtic wheel cross may still be seen outside the door of the church. and in the churchyard are faint markings said to be of the cross that once stood at Petroc’s monastic gateway.

In his old age Petroc set out with twelve companions to live as a hermit on Bodmin Moor, settling himself in a beehive hut by the river. Dom Julian Stonor locates this as the stone beehive hut by the stream that runs out of Rough Tor marsh, and claims ‘it is one of the oldest Christian holy places in England’. So perhaps it was here that Petroc enjoyed that close affinity with nature that shows in many of the stories about him, such as his rescuing a stag from a hunter, and perhaps it was here that he looked out and meditated on the changing sounds and sights.

Though I am silent there is singing around me
Though I am dark there is vision around me
Though I am heavy there is flight around me
Wendell Berry

God has put variety in the creation. Sometimes the sky is filled with pink streaks instead of a golden glow. That is as well. The marvellous could otherwise become mundane. This variety is reflected in the flowers, and in the range of human temperament. It is reflected in the very nature of God.

Thank you
Creator of the world
for the music and medicine of flowers
which give us a scent of heaven upon earth
and for their vases which enable them to give their best.
May those who look at them see your glory

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6th November

Illtyd and Christian Education

And Jesus went around all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people. Mat. 4:23

Illtyd (also spelled Illtud, Eltut, and, in Latin, Hildutus), born about 450, was one of the most celebrated Welsh saints. According to the Book of Llandaff, St. Dubricius commissioned Illtud to re-establish the college, and the place came to be known as Llanilltud Fawr, meaning “Illtud’s Great Church” (Welsh: llan, church enclosure + Illtud + mawr, great). The school came to be known in Welsh by a variety of different names, including Bangor Tewdws (College of Theodosius), or later Bangor Illtyd (“Illtyd’s college”).

According to tradition, the college became very successful, and a number of Celtic saints studied there, including Saint David, Saint Samson, Saint Paul Aurelian, Gildas the Historian, Saint Tudwal, Saint Baglan and king Maelgwn Gwynedd. At one time, the college was said to have seven halls and over 2000 students, though the main source for these numbers comes from the Iolo MSS, manuscript.

St Illtyd’s Church, Llantwit Major, stands on what is believed to have been the site of the monastery.

One Welsh tradition has him as one of the three knights put in charge of the Holy Grail by Arthur, and another one even identifies him as Galahad.

He is remembered for the establishment of early Christian education in Wales that reached throughout Europe.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the dedication of your saints to carry out your work. May I be given the wisdom to grasp just a small portion of their knowledge, insights and understanding of You.
Grant me a portion of the flame that burned in their souls for you

 

 

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5th November

Praise Of The Trinity

Immerse peoples everywhere in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28: 19

By the singing of hymns eagerly ringing out
By thousands of angels rejoicing in holy dances
And by the four living creatures full of eyes
With the twenty four joyful elders
Casting their crowns under the feet of the Lamb of God
The Trinity is praised in eternal threefold exchanges.
Altus Prosator attributed to Columba

Clear and high in the perfect assembly
Let us praise above the nine grades of angels
The sublime and blessed Trinity.
Purely, humbly, in skilful verse
I should love to give praise to the Trinity
According to the greatness of his power.
God has required of the host in this world
Who are his, that they should at all times
All together, fear the Trinity.
Early Welsh

Power of all powers we worship you
Light of all lights we worship you
Life of all lives we worship you
Maker of all creatures we honour you
Friend of all creatures we honour you
Force of all creatures we honour you
Love before time we adore you
Love in dark time we adore you
Love in present time we adore you

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4th November

Little Trinities

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13: 14

The Celtic peoples with their love of significant numbers have always given special significance to the Triad, an arrangement of three statements which summed up a person, a thing or a situation, often with a blend of light humour, deep meaning and paradox.

Three sisters of lying: perhaps, maybe, guess.
Three sources of new life: a woman’s belly, a hen’s egg, a wrong forgiven.
Welsh Triads

Three things are pleasant in a home:
Good food upon the table;
A man who lovingly kisses his wife;
Children who refrain from quarrelling.
Three attitudes are godly in the Church:
True love of the Lord himself;
Kindness amongst the pews;
A fair dealing with self.
Three ideas enlarge a person’s mind:
A humble heart;
A generous soul;
Honesty in business.
Three things I wish for myself:
True spiritual beauty;
A heart of giving;
Eyes with pools of meaning.
Janet Donaldson A Pocket Book of Celtic Prayers

A mother whispers this prayer into the ear of her infant:

The blessing of the Holy Three little love
be the gift to you
Wisdom, peace and purity.
Carmina Gadelica

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3rd November

The Love Of The Three

God said: Let us make human beings in our own image. Genesis 1: 26

May we sense God’s playfulness in the children playing in the streets
May we feel God’s intimacy in the nestling in the breasts
May we surmise the risks that God takes in the chances and the opportunity that is ours
May we savour the flow of God’s friendship when we see the embraces of friends or lovers.

Deep within all of us dwells the Blessed Trinity. At the depth of our being the Father continually loves the Son, while the Son responds to the Father in love and prayer through the Holy Spirit. In our prayer of meditation we desire to be part of the love and prayer of Jesus to the Father. Rather than think up words or aspirations or images of our own, we wish to unite ourselves with the loving prayer going on continually within us. In this prayer we also seek to open ourselves completely to the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Spirit may bring about in us conversion, repentance and faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Mgr Tom Feheily The Christian Meditation Centre Dunlaoguire Ireland

God beyond – God within – God between.

O Father who sought me
O Son who bought me
O Holy Spirit who taught me
Irish Collected by Douglas Hyde

May the love of the Three give birth to a new community
May the yielding of the Three give birth to a new humanity
May the life of the Three give birth to a new creativity
May the togetherness of the Three give birth to a new unity
May the glory of the Three give birth to a new society

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2nd November

Three Yet One

As Jesus came up out of the water he saw heaven opening and the Spirit coming down on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my dearly loved Son, I am so pleased with you. Mark 1: 10, 11

These verses show us the Trinity. The Father in the form of a voice. The Son in the form of Jesus. The Spirit in the form of a dove.
When Irenaeus was asked to explain the Trinity he pointed to a person’s hands. There is more than one hand, but only one person. On a hand there are several fingers, but only the one hand.
The Celtic Christians could see pointers to the nature of God as three Persons in the creation around them, too, as the legend of Patrick picking up a three leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity illustrates.

Three joints in the finger, but only one finger fair
Three leaves of the shamrock yet only one shamrock to wear
Frost, snowflakes and ice, yet all in water their origin share
Three Persons in God; to one God alone we make prayer.
Traditional Irish

Sometimes the sun has been used as an illustration of the Trinity. There is the sun itself, which the human eye cannot directly look at; there is a single ray that we can see at a particular time and place; and there is the sun’s warmth which radiates.

God is at once infinite solitude (one nature) and perfect society (three persons); one infinite love in three subsistent relations.
Thomas Merton
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The Celtic Christians could see pointers to the nature of God as three Persons in the creation around them, too, as the legend of Patrick picking up a three leafed shamrock to explain the Trinity illustrates.

Three joints in the finger, but only one finger fair
Three leaves of the shamrock yet only one shamrock to wear
Frost, snowflakes and ice, yet all in water their origin share
Three Persons in God; to one God alone we make prayer.
Traditional Irish

Sometimes the sun has been used as an illustration of the Trinity. There is the sun itself, which the human eye cannot directly look at; there is a single ray that we can see at a particular time and place; and there is the sun’s warmth which radiates.

The Three who are over my head,
The Three who are under my tread.
The Three who are over me here,
The Three who are over me there.
The Three who in heaven do dwell,
The Three in the great ocean swell.
Pervading Three, O be with me,
Pervading Three, O be with me.
Carmina Gadelica

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1st November

All Saints

Therefore since we have this great cloud of witnesses around us, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Hebrews 12:1

Christians replaced Samhain, the dismal Celtic New Year which marked the coming of darkness, with All Saints’ Day, the glorious celebration of believers who had gone into the dazzling light of God’s presence.

O most dear ones, I can see you, beginning the journey to the land where there is no night nor sorrow nor death … You shall reign with the apostles and prophets and martyrs. You shall seize the everlasting kingdoms, as Christ promised, when he said:’They shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’.
St. Patrick’s letter to Coroticus.

When in the Acts of the Apostles the apostles came together in one place, Solomon’s Porch, which became a focus of peace and unity, crowds came who were made whole from diseases even by the shadow cast by the apostles. And truly, up to this day, wherever Christians gather together for the yearly festival of an individual, the Lord never ceases to perform mighty works.
On this splendid festal day of St. Samson, at God’s inspiration, mighty works of God that are just as great have without doubt been witnessed. For this reason we recognise that God has endowed Samson with an everlasting quality and an unhampered freedom. As we celebrate the heavenly kingdom on his day we perceive the next life with a clear, keen insight. For we firmly believe that he is engaged in another, better, unending life among the saints of God, whom we see shining forth among us, strong and mighty in the Lord.
From The Life of Samson of Dol

Eternal Friend, as I thank you
for your cloud of witnesses who shine so brightly,
and who beckon to us so eagerly
help me to grow strong and holy like them
that I may live more fully and boldly for you
and keep my eyes on the eternal kingdom

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31st October

Halloween

The Lord Almighty says ‘My people are oppressed, but the One who will rescue them is strong – his name is the Lord Almighty. He will take up their cause but will bring trouble to Babylon… Babylon will be haunted by demons and evil spirits. Jeremiah 50: 33, 34, 39.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Winter draws near, nights draw in, and something within us draws back and is afraid. Halloween (that is, the evening of All Hallows, meaning all the holy ones or saints of God) is a day when, in the past and today, people focus on the darkness that is encroaching, and on the spirits, fears and powers which seem to ‘come out’ at this time. The idea of wearing masks and witches hats was not to imitate evil spirits, it was to frighten them off! Today many older people are frightened to go out after dark, or to open the door, not because of evil spirits, but because of youngsters taking ‘trick or treat’ too far.

Some people think that dressing up as witches etc. at Halloween parties is harmless fun; however, it would be foolish to underestimate the reality of the occult forces, which are reviving, not declining. The Celtic Christians understood that our world is like a good land that is temporarily under occupation by malign forces. Their responsibility was to expel evil forces in the name of the Owner, and to claim back the land for God. In order to do this they used protective prayers like a coat of armour. Today it is good to focus on Christ’s victory over evil, to circle in prayer the places that attract fears or forces of darkness; to light a candle to symbolise Christ, the Light of the world, whom no darkness can quench, and to use prayers such as these:

Compassionate God of heaven’s powers
screen me from people with evil intentions.
Compassionate God of freedom
screen me from curses and spells.
Compassionate God of the saints
screen me from bad deeds, bad words, bad thoughts.
Compassionate God of eternity
screen me from bad influences here in the past.
May your cross be between me
and all things coming darkly towards me

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30th October

Reflecting The Trinity

A rope made of three cords is hard to break. Ecclesiastes 4: 12

The God whom the Celtic peoples came to know and love is the God whose very essence is a loving relationship.  God is one, but there are three permanent elements in God’s personality, just as there are in ours, (mind, body, spirit) and it causes damage not to recognise these. In the Divine Being, these three elements are so distinctive that they are more truly called persons than elements, for each of them personally manifests love. In this understanding God is close, accessible; and something of this unity of loves is reflected in human life, which is made in God’s image.

Marriage reflects the Trinity. A couple chose the above reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes which refers to ‘the threefold cord’ for their wedding. They understood, and they wanted all their guests to understand, that it takes three to make a true marriage: the bride, the groom, and God. In some church weddings this is symbolised by the priest, the bride and the groom joining their three hands together

We can also see a reflection of the Trinity in:

a tender kiss
a warm embrace
sporting comradeship
an adult affirming a child
a meal shared
two people listening to each other
a group making music
hospitality
two people’s love turned out to the world
young people serving the old
black and white people celebrating
people playing.

Father, eternal Love Maker
Saviour, eternal Love Mate
Spirit, eternal Love Messenger
The Three of limitless love
I come to you
I abandon myself to you
I lose myself in you
I find myself in you
To you be all glory for ever

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