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* For weddings, click here *
I am available as a Celtic priest to perform any type of spiritual
I will discuss and plan with you the type of ceremony you want, the location, and the contents of the ceremony.
Nothing will be imposed.
Baptisms and Naming Ceremonies
A baptism or christening is a Christian ceremony. A naming ceremony
need not be Christian.
- While this is a Christian ceremony, the child will not be made
a member of any Christian denomination. In a general way, the child will be baptised
into the Celtic Christian spiritual tradition.
- My focus is on celebrating the child's birth, and welcoming that child into a spiritual community. That spiritual community is represented by the people present at the ceremony: parents, godparents, family, friends. Through consultation with the parents, I will build into the ceremony the spiritual beliefs and preferences of those present.
- While, traditionally, baptism emphasises the wiping away of Original
Sin, that will not be my focus. I prefer to focus on the delight of the child's birth
to all present, and the blessings that that child will bring into the world.
- We will pray for protection, health and wholeness, fulfilment,
happiness and long life.
- I will use water from a holy well. Preferably, we will have the
ceremony at a holy well.
A Naming Ceremony.
- A naming ceremony will be similar to the baptism I have described
- We will not use water to 'baptise' the child
- We may not have any specifically Christian element
A Possible Structure for the Ceremony
- All gather. It can be in the living room of the home, in the garden, at a holy well, or some other location.
- The parents carry the child into the circle of people, symbolising
the child's birth into the community.
- The priest welcomes all.
- The parents introduce the child, explaining the choice of name.
They can also tell the story of the pregnancy and birth and describe the child's
- The child is brought around to everybody present for them to greet and bless the child.
- The parents introduce the godparents or anamchairde (soulfriends) that have been chosen. They explain why they chose these people, and what role they would like them to have.
- The godparents or anamchairde are invited to say how they feel
about being asked to take on this role, and how they hope to fulfil it. The female soulfriend is asked to wrap a white cloak around the child.
The male soulfriend is asked to hold a lit candle on behalf of the child. Each will be asked to repeat a few words to express what these symbols represent.
- Various people in attendance do their bit sing a song, offer a gift, pray a blessing.
- The four elements earth, fire, air and water are brought symbolically to the child by various people in attendance and a prayer is said for the characteristics of those elements to be present in the life of the child. For example, earth
is brought in a bowl and is put on the soles of the child's feet. The prayer said
prays a blessing on the child's journey through life, symbolised by the feet walking
on the earth.
- The priest puts oil on the child's crown, acknowledging the child's
divine calling and praying that that calling will be fulfilled in the child's life.
This can also be a prayer for health and wholeness and the fulfilment of the child's
- In a baptismal ceremony, the child is now baptised with well
water. While the traditional words are: I baptise you in the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Spirit, I prefer to say: Baistím thú in
ainm an Athair agus an Mháthair, an Mhic agus an Mhaighdean, an Spiorad Naoimh
agus an Cailleach Feasa which translates as: I baptise you in the name of
the Father and the Mother, the Son and the Maiden, the Holy Spirit and the Wise Old
Woman. This baptismal formula unites the Christian Trinity with the Celtic Triple
- The priest sprinkles water around the child and family, as a circle of protection
against any form of accident, abuse, illness or misguidedness. This is a prayer of
protection for the child's inner divine light and integrity.
- The ceremony ends by everybody joining hands and giving thanks.
At this point there can be music, singing and/or dancing.
A naming ceremony performed in The Burren, County
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Funerals including Memorials and Anniversaries
A death is a time of intense emotion when people usually feel the
need for some sort of ceremony to assist in the transition of the departing person
from this life. For families and communities that are not regular church goers, this
is a difficult time as they often do not know what to do. I am very happy to be of
assistance in these situations.
Of course, deaths are usually unexpected and the time of death
cannot be predicted. It may be that I will have other commitments at the time I am
required. However, I will do my very best to make myself available. My preference
would be to spend the few days around the time of death with the chief mourners and
to put together with them a ceremony or ceremonies with which they would be comfortable.
Usually there are a number of ceremonies required:
- Removal of the body from the home or morgue
- A ceremony at which the public can attend.This could be in the home, in a funeral parlour, or in a hall.
- At the graveside.
At these ceremonies, my emphasis will be on:
- A celebration of the life of the person who has died
- Giving thanks for their contribution to life and the blessings we have received
- Forgiveness for any of their shortcomings
- Praying for a peaceful transition for them to the other world
- Soothing the pain we feel at their departure
- Dealing with the guilt we may feel in relation to our own behaviour
towards them while they lived
- Committing ourselves to keep their memory alive
- Praying for strength and protection for us as we adjust to living
Christian elements can be included in the ceremonies if the chief
mourners so desire.
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First Communions and Coming of Age Ceremonies
For Christians, the time of first communion is a recognition that
the child has reached a certain stage in his or her development where he or she is
capable of understanding the more spiritual aspects of life. Traditionally, it is
a recognition that the child has reached the age of reason.
For parents who do not attend any particular church, but who regard
themselves as Christian, it may be important to them that their children appreciate
the meaning of communion and learn to receive it. Receiving communion is a powerfully
symbolic ritual which carries within it the message that one is coming into communion
with the divine, and that one is receiving a spiritual food.
A child of a certain age can begin to appreciate that nourishment
of his or her soul is just as important, or even more important, than nourishment
of his or her body. In a ceremony of this kind, I like to bring out an emphasis on
where this nourishment can be found. Of course it can be found in daily life, one
does not have to go to a church to find it. It is found in giving and receiving love.
It is found in being truthful and in hearing the truth. And it is found in beauty.
The ceremony therefore can be a celebration of these things in
the child's life - the love that is in the home, the learning and development that
is going on in the child, and the beauty that surrounds the child's life. Communion
is then a making conscious of the reception of this spiritual food by the child.
During the course of the ceremony, the story can be told of how
Jesus first created this practice of communion for his friends. Jesus said at the
time, that the bread and wine on the table was his body and blood and that his friends
should eat and drink his body and blood. We will try and relate this to the present
by illustrating how parents give their lives in a very real way for their children,
and others do also to a lesser extent. So the bread and wine is not just the body
and blood of Jesus but the body and blood of parents and others who give their lives
for the child. We stay spiritually nourished by giving of ourselves to each other.
The divine is present in this giving and receiving.
This should be the kernel of the ceremony, but we can then add
a variety of other elements. There can be music, singing and dancing. The room or
location can be decorated with the child's art and with objects that celebrate the
child's life. Significant people in the child's life can be invited. During the ceremony
there can be readings and poetry and an opportunity for parents, godparents and others
to speak. Afterwards, there can be a celebratory meal.
I am not prepared to 'say a Mass' in the conventional sense, but
if you look through the above description of the ceremony, you will see that all
the elements of the conventional Mass are present without the formality of set words
A Coming of Age Ceremony
For parents who do not want a Christian ceremony, I am happy to
put together a ceremony with them which will celebrate the coming of age of their
child. The content of the ceremony will emerge from discussions with them. It can
be held at whatever location they choose.
There are a number of moments in a young person's development which
the parents and the child might wish to celebrate. The first of these is of course
the birth, which we have covered already in our discussion of baptism and naming
The Age of Seven: The next moment of transition for a child
is around the age of seven. At this age, the child is losing his or her first teeth,
and receiving new adult teeth which he or she will have for the rest of his or her
life. It is a symbolic moment where the child begins to take on the first elements
of adult life. At this age, the child can take on some personal responsibilities,
can grapple with certain adult concepts, can acquire certain adult skills, and can
consciously begin to develop attributes and qualities such as truthfulness, trustworthiness,
gentleness and kindness.
The Age of Puberty: The next moment of transition for a
child is the time of puberty. This can be earlier for a girl than for a boy, but
is usually around the beginning of the teens. The transition to sexual capacity and
awareness is a major adjustment for a young person, and causes huge physical and
emotional changes. The young person and the parents can be helped go through this
transition with a suitable ceremony.
Other Moments of Transition in Life: There are other major moments of transition in people's lives such as:
- completion of secondary school
- graduation from college
- departure from home
- 21st birthday
- 40th birthday, mid-life, or menopause
One should also include: marriage and marriage anniversaries, the
birth of a child, major illness, and of course death.
All of these can be spiritually celebrated in some way and I am happy to be of assistance.
Family on Day of First Communion on Aran
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House Blessings and Other Blessings
There can be two reasons for wanting to bless something.
One is to consecrate it or dedicate it for some sacred usage. The other is to protect
it and those who use it. And of course one can want to bless it for both reasons.
Blessing a house, or the site of a house, is a good example of consecrating a space
for a sacred usage, namely making it a holy place in which people can live. Blessing
a car is a good example of placing a circle of protection around something which
can be lethally dangerous for its occupants and for other road users.
Traditionally in Ireland, when people were choosing
a site for their home, they walked the land carefully to find the spot with the most
positive energy. Even in recent times, people were careful not to build their home
on a fairy path, something which would block the fairies way and turn them against
Having found the spot, they then walked in a turas
deiseal, a journey around the perimeter of the site in a clockwise, or sunwise,
direction. From this comes the word 'contemplation'.
People of this time understood that the plan and
concept for their home was initially with the gods. The gods had the 'template' for
their home. Through con-templation, walking around on the perimeter of the
site, they were drawing down this plan for their home from the heavens and making
it manifest on the earth.
Whether you are at the initial stage of choosing
a site, or at a later stage of being ready to build, ready to move in, or already
moved, a ceremony of blessing may be important to you. I am happy to perform a ceremony
with you that will reflect your beliefs and your view of the world and that will
consecrate your home and make it a sacred dwelling.
A Car: It is common enough for people to
want to have their car blessed as a ritual of protection against accident on the
road. I use sacred water from a holy well for this purpose. I can then leave the
bottle of water with the car owner to carry in the car at all times. At the beginning
of a journey, the water can be used to bless the car and occupants as a protection
It is common enough also to conduct blessings
- A pregnant woman
- An animal, including pets
- Seed for planting
- A harvest
- Buildings other than one's home
- Boats, planes and other forms of transport
There is no limit to what one can want to bless or have blessed. Of course, one does
not need a priest or practiced practitioner for every occasion. It is good for people
to become accustomed to creating their own rituals of blessing and protection without
having to call on an outsider to do it for them. However, there will be occasions
when it seems right to ask in somebody more experienced, and in these cases I am
happy to be of assistance.
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Healing Ceremonies, Blessings of the Sick, and Praying with Someone
- I do not offer any particular form of 'therapy'. What I can do
is pray with someone.
- Sometimes I pray with a person alone, other times it is with a
group gathered around the particular person
- My first step is always to create a sacred space around those
of us present. To do this we will close doors and try to ensure an uninterrupted
silence, as far as possible.
- We will then light a candle, and perhaps an incense stick, hold
hands and have a moment's silence to recollect ourselves.
- Within this setting, I will normally want to have a conversation
with those present and especially with the one we are focussing on. I will share
my own thoughts and encourage others to do the same.
- Out of this conversation will come a prayer. After a brief silence,
I will pray whatever prayer comes to me.
- I will invite others also to pray, either out loud or silently
- I will lay my hands on the person, either on their head or shoulders,
or simply take their hands in mine
- I will anoint the person with oil.
- There may be other elements in the ceremony such as singing or
- I always leave room within the ceremony for something spontaneous
- the 'movement of the spirit'
- We will end the ceremony with a ritual of closure such as a final
blessing, holding hands, a song, or hugs all round.
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Solstice, Equinox, and Full Moon Celebrations
Within the Celtic tradition, the Divine is particularly accessible
during moments of transition. These moments of transition can be times in one's own
life, such as birth, marriage, coming of age and ultimately the moment of death,
but there are also times within the calendar of nature which are clear moments of
transition. In modern times, these transition moments in nature have been all but
For those wanting to reconnect with nature, celebrating the year's natural transition moments is a good place to begin. These moments--solstice, equinox, and full moon--have been occurring since our planet was formed. Their regular predictable occurrence is not only to be found in the skies, but is a pattern that is also embedded and reflected in the life-cycles of living beings.
Plants are aware of temperature and the length of daylight. Their
annual cycle of growth, flowering, seeding, and dying back is directly connected
to the pattern of the sun and moon in the skies. Animals also. Birds know when to
make nests and lay eggs. Goats and sheep know to become fertile at the beginning
of winter in order to have their young in the spring. Fish know when and where to
go to spawn and mate.
Humans at first sight appear less connected or controlled by this
pattern in the skies. However, a woman's menstrual cycle is a direct reflection of
the monthly cycle of the moon. In subtler ways, our moods are effected by our exposure
to sunlight and by the fullness of the moon. When we see the effect the moon has
on the sea, twice each day causing huge changes in tide across our shores, and when
we realise that our bodies also contain a large percentage of water, it is logical
to assume that the moon is also registering some 'tidal' effects on our bodies and
on the bodies of all living beings that contain water.
- When I participate in ceremonies at these times, I draw on the
gifts, experience, insights and mental associations of all present to create a ceremony.
- The ceremony can be pre-planned, or it can be a spontaneous gathering
with everybody expected to contribute.
- Choosing the right moment is important. In the case of the solstices
and equinoxes, that moment is sunrise or sundown. In the case of the full moon, it
can be sundown or later in the evening when the moon is high in the sky.
- Choosing the right location is also important. A site outdoors
is of course best. A sacred site outdoors would be even better. And on a hilltop
with a clear view would probably be best of all.
- It helps to light a fire at the centre of the circle. This is
symbolic of the sun and of course it draws people around a focal point.
- Gathered in this way, there can be readings, prayers and songs.
- People share their mental associations with this cosmic event.
This is a conversation around the topic.
- A participant will recount a mythical story connected to this
cosmic event that comes from some sacred tradition
- Another participant will lead us in a circle dance and explain
the symbolism of the movements
- Someone will suggest a ritual action such as jumping over the
fire, walking in a sunwise direction around the fire, or whatever ñ an action that
would ritualise the meaning of the occasion for us
- There will be music and singing
- We will share food and drink together
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Celtic Festival Celebrations Imbolc, Bealtaine, Lughnasa, Samhain
These four festivals divide the year into four quarters. Each festival
marks the beginning of a new season. They are therefore festivals that celebrate
transition moments in the year. The festivals are celebrated on the following dates:
- Imbolc: February 1st
- Bealtaine: May 1st
- Lughnasa: August 1st
- Samhain: November 1st
- For the Celts, the festival begins at sundown of the previous day.
Also, traditionally the festival lasts a lot longer than one day. The dates above
mark the beginning of the festival.
For people who live in the countryside, who are mostly outdoors, and who gather,
grow and hunt for their own food, these transition moments signal big adjustments
in the patterns of daily living from season to season. I know this well, because
I grow vegetables, keep animals and fowl, and I fish.
Imbolc is a time of excitement as we expect the winter's
end. We appreciate enormously the lengthening of the day, the warmer weather and
the emergence of growth in the ground. Our minds are preoccupied with planning the
planting season, ordering the seed, preparing the ground, spreading seaweed or compost,
and planning the rotations. The chickens and ducks begin the lay again and we can
again eat eggs.
Bealtaine is a time of celebration and relaxation. The summer
has begun in earnest. The crops have been sown and we await their harvest. Everything
is coming into its fullness. We keep ourselves going with weeding and watering, picking
the first fruits, and fishing.
Lughnasa is greeted with a certain sadness as we begin our
goodbyes to summer and anticipate the shortening days and the colder weather. The
harvest has begun and we are carefully storing away what we can for the winter. We
count our failures and our victories as we assess the success of our work.
Samhain is the beginning of the new year. We begin it in
the dark and the cold, where all life begins and ends. Everything has died back and
so do we. We stay indoors more. It is a time for reflection and planning. A time
for restructuring, renovation, renewal. We try to make our stores last until the
end of spring. We make do with what we have got, and do without what we cannot have.
When we create a celebration around these festivals, we draw on
our own experience of these transition times, as well as drawing on the traditional
practices and beliefs associated with them.
On the island of Inis Mór, where I live, Samhain is a
Some of the people dress up as Otherworld creatures on Halloween
night. They completely camouflage their personal identity, so that they are unrecognisable
even by people who know them well. They then visit their neighbours and gather in
the pubs in the main village of the island. They remain silent for the whole night,
never revealing their true identity.
This ritual dressing-up dramatises the ancient Celtic myth surrounding
Samhain. For the Celts, the transition night between the old year and the new year
was a time when the veil between this world and the Otherworld was very thin. Both
worlds could blend on this night. This meant that there was a real danger that one
could disappear into the Otherworld on this night, or that one could encounter someone
from the Otherworld. Those dressing up represent the creatures of the Otherworld
coming into our midst.
At Croagh Patrick, in Westport, Co. Mayo, an ancient ritual
celebrating Lughnasa is still practiced.
This Lughnasa ritual is the climbing of the Holy Mountain. In pre-Christian
times, the mountain represented the earth goddess Anu. At sunset, the sun god Lugh
came into her bed for the night and they made love. Their intercourse produced the
harvest. This is a harvest festival. The climbing of the mountain takes place these
days on the last Sunday of July, marking the beginning of the harvest. Traditionally,
people climbed the mountain during the night, in order to join Anu and Lugh ritually
in their bed, so that they could also benefit from their harvest. Nowadays, people
mostly climb the mountain during the day.
Bealtaine is celebrated throughout Europe with flowers, an altar
to Mary, the May pole and sexual games.
In Ireland, Bealtaine was a festival of sexual license. It was
a time also for getting married. The cattle, which were the measure of a person's
wealth, were driven through a narrow gap between two bonfires and put out into summer
pasture. This was a purification ritual, and may even have had a practical purpose.
Traditional practices around Imbolc have largely been forgotten.
However, an Imbolc practice being revived in many parts of Ireland
is that of making St Brigid's cross out of straw or reed on the feast of St
Brigid. This cross is ritually placed in a home as a protection against fire for
the coming year. The cross is an ancient fire symbol, representing the sun, but through
St Brigid this cross is also representative of Christianity.
Another practice being revived around the festival of Imbolc is
the laying out of St Brigid's cloak overnight on the earth. In the morning
it is gathered in, having been blessed by the dew. It is then torn up into strips
and distributed to people. The cloth is used as a protection against illness. Usually
the cloth is blue. Dew is the sacred water of the Celts. It has a mysterious quality
to it as it both arrives on the ground and disappears again in a mysterious way.
On Inis Meán, the least populated of the three Aran Islands,
there is still a practice of using the Babóg Brídín
(the doll of St Brigid). Children make this doll out of straw on the eve of February
1st, the feast of St Brigid. They bring the doll around to all the houses in the
vicinity, knocking at the door and inviting the residents to welcome St Brigid into
their homes. Welcoming Brigid means welcoming the spring.
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A Celtic Mass
The Christian eucharist has been around in various forms since
the beginning of Christianity.
In the time of Saint Paul, according to one expert I have read
recently, it was a gathering of Christians around an actual meal with little formality
attached to it. There may not even have been the concept of a priest officiating.
Later, many different expressions of it developed as Christianity
spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. Until Christianity became centralised
and uniform, which did not happen to any great extent until nearly the 12th century,
the eucharist was celebrated in many different languages and in many different ways.
In Ireland, during the period of the Celtic Church, that is before
the 12th century, the eucharist was normally celebrated only once a week, on the
sabbath. After the ceremony, monks took the sacred bread back to their cells in a
little satchel and ate a piece each day. They put the satchel around their necks
when they went to work. Often in the fields these satchels were hung on the branches
of trees, blessing the work and the harvest.
With the Gregorian Reform, the Christian church in the west became
more centralised and hierarchical. Central to this reform was the promotion of the
Roman Ritual, a book which contained in great detail the words and rubrics of every
ceremony to be performed in the name of Christianity. This put an end to all diversity
within the Church and imposed a rigidness and staleness upon the ceremony of the
eucharist which lasted until the reforms of the Vatican Council in the late 1960's.
Of course, the Reformation which shattered Christianity into many
piecces led to a new diversity among the expressions of Christianity. However, many
of the Protestant churches chose to put an emphasis on Scripture rather than on ritual,
and consequently the eucharist became something that was either not practiced at
all, or practiced at a very minimal level. Only the Anglican and Lutheran churches
have continued to give some prominence to the eucharist, and their ceremonies are
now quite similar to the post-Vatican Council Roman Catholic Mass.
It is my view that sacred ritual is a very important medium for
worship. The use of ritual actions, symbolic objects, sacred images, vestments, candles
and incense all contributes to the human effort to express ourselves spiritually
and to be in touch with the divine.
I believe that Jesus was extraordinarily insightful and courageous
when he took the bread and wine of the Passover meal and gave it such a radically
new meaning. The Passover meal was a Jewish religious festival meal normally led
by the head of the household. It had a laid down structure to it, with certain foods
to be on the table and certain prayers to be said. The Jewish authorities instructed
the people on how this ceremony was to be performed.
Jesus, while respecting the tradition and therefore wanting the
celebrate the occasion, had no respect for the authorities or their efforts to control
how it was celebrated. He therefore felt free to be creative and spontaneous at the
celebration and to add a new layer of meaning to it. As we can see from the gospel
account, he did this in two ways: first by taking the bread and wine from the table
and declaring it to be his body and blood which we should eat and drink, and second
by insisting on washing the feet of his disciples.
The Passover was a celebration of the Hebrew people, those who
later became known as the Jews, escaping from their slavery in Egypt. They 'passed
over' the Red Sea out of Egypt, led by Moses, and spent the next forty years in the
desert before eventually settling further north in Israel. The Passover festival,
which happens once a year around our time of Easter, is a celebration of liberation
Jesus honoured that celebration and left that meaning intact while
at the same time adding a new and even deeper layer of meaning. For me, that new
layer of meaning was that Jesus saw that his life with his disciples was a giving
of himself to them. His life with them was food and drink for their souls. In inviting
them to do this same thing in memory of him, he was asking them to also give their
lives in this way to and for one another.
When we take the bread and wine in the eucharist, it is not so
much that we are eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus, as that we are
eating and drinking the body and blood of each other. This is nourishment for our
souls because our lives contain a divine element, as did the life of Jesus. The divine
is in each of us, as it was to a very manifest degree in Jesus, and we bring that
out in each other when we live according to the insights that Jesus gave us about
life. When we share a meal with people we love and respect, we are not just receiving
nourishment for our bodies, we are also receiving nourishment for our souls. This
is why many people light a candle at a meal, to represent this spiritual element.
In this sense, every meal together can be a eucharist.
When we celebrate the eucharist then we can follow the example
of Jesus. While being respectful of tradition, we are encouraged by Jesus' example
to allow the spirit to move us during the celebration and to feel free enough to
add new layers of meaning to the ceremony that are relevant for us today. Tradition
can give us the initial structure and suggested content for the ceremony, but there
is nothing to stop us adding to and adapting what has been given, so that it meets
our needs and touches us where we are at.
Jesus quite clearly respected the spiritual traditions of his people.
The gospels recount him visiting the synagogue on the Sabbath, and going up to Jerusalem
for the festivals. This is on the one hand, but on the other hand, Jesus clearly
had no time for the religious leaders of Judaism. He took every opportunity he could
to denounce them. He denounced them as a pack, rather than just focussing on particularly
Jesus strongly supported the rich indigenous spiritual tradition
of Judaism, but had no time for a religious structure of control that was hierarchical,
male dominated and authoritarian. For Jesus, the power that he recognised was the
power and potential within each individual, and the authority that he respected was
the inner divinely given authority within each person.
The development of Christianity as an institutional religion was
not something that Jesus could even remotely have wanted to happen. It is my view
that these institutional expressions of Christianity that we have today offer only
a distorted, corrupted and emasculated version of what Jesus really stood for.
If one can appreciate the difference between an indigenous spiritual
tradition and an institutionalised religion then one can see where Christianity could
have taken us had it not been hijacked and anaesthetised by institutionalisation.
An indigenous spiritual tradition is something which lives dynamically among a people
and does not need hierarchical or centralised control. It is the accumulated mythology
of the people and out of it comes an inculturated expression in daily ritual activities
and regular festivals and celebrations.
A modern example of an indigenous tradition that has not been controlled
centrally but is nonetheless dynamic, life-giving and adapted to the contemporary
world, is the Irish musical tradition. Of course, this is not a spiritual tradition
in the strict sense, but it does illustrate how a tradition can survive and be self-sustaining
without centralised control or institutionalisation. In the case of Ireland, there
is also a Celtic spiritual tradition which is indigenous and has not been institutionalised.
However, it only survives on the margins of Irish society, as the mainstream has
been dominated since the 12th century by the institutionalised Christian church.
The challenge in creating a Celtic Mass or eucharist is to be faithful
to the Irish indigenous tradition while at the same time making the ceremony relevant
to people of today and allowing within the ceremony for spontaneity and the movement
of the spirit.
We have done this on Aran each Sunday for many years by first locating the ceremony outdoors,
if the weather allows. Having it outdoors is part of the Irish tradition going back
to pre-Celtic times. It serves to connect us with our natural environment where not
only do we commune with the divine in nature but we see also on the landscape the
marks of our spiritual tradition going back to ancient times. We have worshipped close to
a holy well, and on the site of an ancient Celtic monastery.
The ceremony has been hosted by my wife and I who act as guardians of
our household and of the vision for that household. People who join us are our guests.
It is our role to lead the ceremony, as it would be the role of any couple to coordinate
a celebration in their home. This role is similar to that of an abbot or abbess in
a Celtic monastery where the community was ideally never more than 12 or 13 people,
imitating Christ and the 12 apostles.
Within the ceremony there is music and singing, silence, prayer,
sharing and reflection, as well as symbolic objects, ritual actions, and
the use of some food and drink (not necessarily bread and wine). It has a structure to it, is carefully led from one stage
to the next, but at the same time is open to spontaneity and to the full participation
of everybody. The prayers that are said come from the heart and are not prescribed.
The priestly role is held by my wife and I but is not strongly emphasised. When we
cannot be present, others take over the role.
The ceremony is not particularly Christ centred nor is it restricted
to self-confessed Christians. It is a ceremony that is open to all people of good
will. It is centred on the divine rather than on Christ. Participants share their
insights and experiences, their beliefs and their doubts. For some people the teaching
and example of Jesus has assisted them in their spiritual journey, and they share
this. What unites the group is each participant's desire to acknowledge the divine
in one's life and to be in touch with that life-source.
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