A Celtic Healing Service
by Father Hardman
On Sunday, November 8, 2009, at 9:00 am, we will be holding a Celtic Healing Service. Since many people are unfamiliar with the subject, let me say a few words now. Most of the following is based on a book by Ray Simpson titled Exploring Celtic Spirituality.
Sometime before Christ, the Celts began to emerge in Europe as a distinct race of people. After the Roman Empire was established, however, most of this race was pushed into Gaul (France), Britain and Ireland. Sometime around 200 ad Christianity came to Great Britain, brought perhaps by a Roman soldier. In about 400 ad the Roman troops were pulled out to fight the barbarians who had begun invading Europe, and so for two or three hundred years the Celts were left to develop their own brand of Christianity. It was indeed quite different from the Roman brand.
The Roman Church was under the control of Greek thought and so began to compartmentalize reality, separating the material world from the spiritual world. Flesh and matter began to be seen as evil and the spiritual as good. In the Celtic Church, however, no such split took place. Instead, the concept of seeing God reflected in all things began to dominate.
A 5th Century catechism attributed to Ninian says it best:
What is best in this world? To do the will of our Maker.
What is his will? That we should live according to the laws of his creation.
How do we know these laws? By study-studying the Scriptures with devotion.
What tool has our Maker provided for this study? The intellect which can probe anything.
And what is the fruit of study? To perceive the eternal Word of God reflected in every plant and insect, every bird and animal, and every man and woman. (Simpson p.88)
The Celts cherished creation because they saw God reflected in everything. They saw the material and spiritual worlds as intertwined in what we might call today a "mystical way". In addition, they had a sense of awareness that in certain places-"thin places"-one seemed closer to God. These thin places were usually in the midst of nature, like the island of Iona, or like certain clumps of oak trees in the forest.
Our worship space at Holy Comforter is already a thin place. On November 8, we hope to make it "thinner" by including a bit of nature. We will bring in a few trees to remind us of God's presence with us, and to create a more authentic Celtic atmosphere.
Nature is healing. Being out in nature-in the woods, on a lake, or even on a golf course-can bring a new perspective to our life, one that can heal. I will say more about Christian healing next month.