Monday, 24 August 2009

Celtic Christianity

When you mention ‘Celtic’ Christianity, many think of a wishy washy mish-mash of pagan and Christian ideas. The reality is very different. A recent visit to the Isle of Man has started a renewed interest in Celtic Christianity for me.

Imagine a Christian/catholic church, untouched by the Triumphalism and Imperialism of the both the Roman civilisation and Roman Church as has developed over the last 1000 years. A short article here cannot do justice to the breadth of Celtic Christianity but these short pointers might whet your appetite.

The Holy Spirit is depicted as a wild goose in Celtic iconography rather than a gentle dove. You never quite know where you are with an unpredictable wild goose !

An emphasis on experiencing God through all the senses – nothing new to catholic Christianity but do we really recognise and value the use of all our senses in worship, prayer and daily life ?

Life is viewed as pilgrimage

What is deepest in us is the image of God. Sin distorts but cannot erase it in the desire to live the struggle between good and evil.

Memorising scripture and recognising the rhythm of the seasons is important.

Community, prayer and hospitality are at the heart of the local church.

There is a non dualistic character where the paradoxes and apparent contradictions of faith can be left to be just that rather than having the need to seek an infallible certainty in all areas of faith.

Creation is seen as a ‘sacrament’. All creation sings as one great revelation and hymn of praise to the creator.

Make no mistake, all of these things can be found in the Church today. It is not that they are ‘new,’ but they are a synthesis of Christian belief, spirituality and expression that find a resonance in Celtic Christianity. A similar synthesis of belief, spirituality and expression can be found in the ‘carisms’ of religious orders and lay communities.

The Cross in the above photograph was taken in Bride Church, Isle of Man. Information on the Cross can be found here at fig 50.

4 comments:

Rob said...

My husband and I are going to IOM for 11 days at the end of June, and are hoping to learn something about the history of Celtic Christianity there. Could you please suggest some places we could visit.

Rob said...

that was from Sarah - not Rob (thus "my husband")

Rob said...

My husband and I are going to IOM for 11 days at the end of June, and are hoping to learn something about the history of Celtic Christianity there. Could you please suggest some places we could visit.

Contemplative Catholic said...

Hi Sarah,
St Patricks Isle Peel is good place to start and the House of mananan in Peel also. I think an initial visit to these places will give you the inspiration to search for other sacred places on the isle as the Spirit leads you. It would be lovely to know how your 'pilgrimage' turns out.
Yours
Nick