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Celtic Spirituality in the Lenten Season

Celtic Spirituality in the Lenten Season

By Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC     

In the season of Lent, I feel drawn to immerse myself in the richness of the Celtic consciousness of the sacredness of all life, and our place in relationship with the invisible, eternal world–within the great circle of God, which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal, as one.

Celtic Spirituality has emerged out of the creative encounter between Christianity and the nature mysticism of pre-Christian Druidic religion. 

The marks of pre-Christian religion were transformed as they were woven into the fabric of the Gospel tradition, which was seen as fulfilling, not destroying, Celtic mythologies. The pre-Christian Druidic religion became almost like the Old Testament of the Celtic Church.

Celtic Spirituality is rich in an awareness of the goodness of creation, and a sense of heaven’s presence among us on earth, an intertwining of the spiritual and material, heaven and earth, time and eternity. 

The spiritual exists within the matter of creation. God’s healing and restoring powers are to be found in the goodness of the earth. Rather than seeing a great gap between heaven and earth, the Celtic sees the two as inseparably intertwined. Creation is a visible manifestation of God; nothing in creation is evil in itself. The creative energy of God is embedded in the natural world.

All aspects of nature are sacred: oak trees, wells, mountains, lakes, the sunrise, etc.  There exists a deep and constant sense of an invisible world continuous with the visible world, a sense of the presence of the hidden world and the protection of those gentle and powerful beings filling every nook and cranny of space and time. 

There are certain times when the veil between the two worlds, the visible and the invisible, becomes very thin — the “thin times.” The Celtic Calendar, and the celebration of the seasons, indicate the intertwining of these two worlds. 

One example of one of the most “thin times” occurs on October 31, when the world starts to darken into winter. The veil between the human world and the world of the dead becomes very thin. The following day in the calendar has no name; this is to keep the spirits from being trapped in our world, and to make the journey back over the veil much easier. The Christian Church marks this time as All Saints and All Souls Days.

Celtic Spirituality emphasizes the presence of God at the heart of all life and within all people. There is in the Celtic Church a special love for Saint John the Evangelist, as the one who, at the Last Supper, leaned on the breast of Jesus, listening for the heartbeat of God. 

It seems no surprise that when the Virgin Mary was said to have appeared in an apparition in Knock, Ireland, the two persons accompanying her were her husband, Joseph, and John, the one to whom her Son entrusted her care before he died on the cross.

Take some time each day of the Lenten season to enter into a place of stillness, preferably in a place in nature, where you can experience the sacred mystery of creation and the Creator.