Journey to the Cross
Friday, March 11
Rev. Chris Pritchett, Senior Pastor, John Knox Presbyterian Church in Seattle, WA
When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi" (which translated means Teacher), "where are you staying?" He said to them, "Come and see." - John 1:38-39 [For further reading: John 1:35-42]
St. Patrick of Ireland Tradition has long associated Celtic Spirituality with St. Patrick of Ireland (c.390-c.460). "At the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped from his home by Irish marauders and taken to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave to a chieftain and forced to herd livestock. After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped to his native Britain. Because he believed that his captivity and deliverance were ordained by God, Patrick devoted his life to ministry. While studying for the priesthood, he experienced recurring dreams in which he heard voices say, 'O holy youth, come back to Erin and walk once more among us.' He convinced his superiors to let him return to Ireland in 432, not to seek revenge for injustice but to seek reconciliation and to spread his faith. Over the next thirty years, Patrick established churches and monastic communities across Ireland. When he was not engaged in the work of spreading the Christian faith, Patrick spent his time praying in his favorite places of solitude and retreat."
In the Celtic Christian tradition there was no separation between the sacred and the secular. Life was seen as a whole and the Trinity present in every moment. Prayer therefore was as natural as breathing. The Celtic practice was to pray or invoke God's involvement for, during, and about everything. This facilitates a very natural and organic approach to prayer and God's presence. Prayers for frequent activities like lighting the fireplace, milking the cow, taking a shower, brushing your teeth, were learned by heart and handed down by word of mouth or later in writing. Being an oral and creative culture facilitated this approach to prayer. The use of the imagination became second nature. For example, imagine that Jesus, his mother, or friends are in your back garden, workplace, or bedroom! As we imagine this, we begin to sense what they would think and do if they were with us, and respond naturally in prayer.
The Celtic way is to bless everything in life (except evil), however earthly or ordinary. Animals, bicycles, computers, exams, food, gifts, jobs, love-making, meals, parties, travel - try it!
CONNECTING CONTEMPLATION WITH ACTION:
Practice hospitality. Invite some friends, neighbors, or strangers over for dinner to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, next Thursday, March 17. Prepare an Irish meal and decorate for the occasion. Take a moment at the beginning of the meal to give a word about St. Patrick and offer a Celtic prayer of blessing with your company. Or you may want to attend someone else's St. Patrick Day's dinner! Whichever way, be intentional about the time together. Try to see it through the eyes of Patrick, as a blessing from God.