Previous Writing for Abbot Liam:
Updated: Mar 11, 2021
The Way of the Cross
A Celtic Journey with Jesus Christ
February 14, 2020
I spend a great deal of my time reflecting over the 71 years of my life and what God has brought me to believe. I am now prepared, with His Blessings, to share some of my most scared and inner thoughts with you.
Let us begin in Eden, the place where all faith stories begin and end. God created every living creature and thing from the vastness of His Eternal Mind and spoke the Word that brought it into being, as we know it today. God looked at Nature, every living creature, great and small, and saw goodness. God surveyed the Universe, the stars, the moons, the planets, the galaxies, and beyond and saw goodness. In God's creative work all these creations had their existence in Him and shared that relationship with one another. So that God is the fabric and design of everything that was made and without Him, nothing was made. All this God accomplished through His Word. In His Word was all LIfe. This Word would later become flesh and dwell among the creatures and nature He created. The Word spoken by God is the Christ. From the beginning to the end, the Word remains with God.
God created Man and Woman giving them a "soul" made in His Image, in the Image of His Christ. In the beginning, the human soul was innocent and lived in Eden, walked with God, and had dominion over all God had created. The human creatures were not aware of the celestial wars that were waged before Creation. They were not aware of the fallen angels or of any danger from the "otherworld" at this time in their existence. Before Creation, there was another place without time, where God and His angels dwelled and had their being. Long before God created the angels, He saw within Himself the capacity for great good, as well as a great evil. God searched His inner being and through His own power and His Word, God cast out the darkness within Himself. Around this vast darkness of the capacity to do evil, God established a Great Guf and fixed its boundaries that nothing could cross from one side to the other. In a timeless and endless existence, God dwelt with His angels. The darkness grew strong and in time influenced some of the archangels and angels into believing they could overtake God and replace Him. Thus we have the Angelic Wars in Heaven. The wars end and the dark archangels and angels were cast out into the darkness and God then established a celestial wall around the darkness with a great gate to its entrance which was guarded by two archangels who had remained loyal to God and He gave the keys to this gate to the Word. All of this occurred before God created Eden. The "otherworld" existed before our creation.
The story of Eden is the story of two worlds colliding with each other. Symbolism runs through Eden as a great river runs between the mountains of time. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil represents the intersection where these two worlds collide. I will discuss this at a later time, but for now, I want to turn our attention back to the human souls and all of the created world that we have dominion over.
After the encounter at the Tree, the human creatures were expelled from Eden, and Eden was removed from this created world to a place of keeping, where there is no time or space. In Celtic teachings, all of this is taught to children so they understand not only their world but also the dangers of the "otherworld" around them. The Celts were always mindful of the powers they could see, as well as those hidden from their vision.
From here we will journey through time and history learning the mysteries and teachings of the ancient Celtic Christian faith and the development of a spirituality that is empowered by our encounter with God on a personal level. To walk the Celtic Way is to walk the road less traveled. One must forget what one was taught in order to learn a new way of thinking about God and His creation. Rome never conquered the Celts and their faith survived in spite of great persecution through oral tradition and the witness of the Holy Spirit. In our presents and our time, God is restoring this Celtic Way and reforming His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. Rome has had over 2,000 years to corrupt an incorruptible faith given to us by God on the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit proceeded from God the Father and God the Son to establish Christ's Church. We will walk the Celtic Way together and learn. Be prayerful and open your hearts and minds to God's Spirit as we walk.
The Way of the Cross
A Celtic Journey with Jesus Christ
February 15, 2020
We will walk the Celtic Way together and learn. Be prayerful and open your hearts and minds to God's Spirit as we walk. In Episcopal Teachings I, we learned the events that took place in Eden and the encounter of the human creatures with the "otherworld" at what we call one of the "thin places" known in Eden as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. A "thin place" is just that, a physical location where the separation between the divine or spiritual realm and the earth (created world) is thin, a thin place.
The human creatures were told by the serpent, if they ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would not die, but we be like God. They ate and their eyes were opened realizing they were naked, a symbol for innocence, and they took fig leaves to cover themselves so God would not see them naked, for their eyes had been opened and they now knew "good" from "evil". We know the dialog between the human creatures and God from stories we heard as children in Sunday school. What is important to remember, is that instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, they blamed God, who had created all things visible and invisible. What they did, was God's fault, in their minds. It is for this reason and the lack of repentance, God cast them out, and Eden was removed from the created world to a place of keeping, where there is no time or space. Later we will learn that St. John in his revelation would see Eden returning to this world saying: "Behold I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old had passed away and all things become new." This is symbolic of the restoration of Eden. In the same manner, God reveals the Incarnation of the Word, the Christ, in the story of Eden saying "the serpent's head will be crushed by the seed of "woman" (a reference to Mary) and the serpent would bruise His heel (a reference to the crucifixion)." Eden begins the journey of faith and Eden will end the journey of faith along the Celtic Way.
Against this backdrop, our journey continues with the Incarnation of the Word, the birth of Jesus, who is called "the Christ." Joseph and Mary encounter God in another thin place, a stable in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. This event was foretold in Eden and its importance can not be relegated to simply a Bible story about the birth of Jesus, it is an event where the divine or spiritual realm breaks through to the created world and the God of Creation becomes human flesh and blood. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." Now God, in the flesh is walking in the midst of creation once again, like in Eden. God cast the human creatures out of Eden, and now God comes to redeem them so that one day they might enter Eden again. Jesus of Nazareth brings the Word to all creation and in Him, there is life everlasting, for He is God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible. God now is seen as recreating what was lost and restoring creation to its original design. The Celtic Way understands the Incarnation of God in Christ as the most profound act of God in all of history, time, and space; both in this world and the otherworld. Likewise, the sacrifice God makes of His Christ (Son) is as profound an act unparalleled in all time, space, visible and invisible, in the creation and in the otherworld. In reality, God (who is in the flesh) takes on the sins of every creature in creation from the beginning to the ending in this one act of atonement. "Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world." When we think of the crucifixion, we must think of it another way, the Cross is the Altar of God on which God Himself is offered up for the creatures' sin. When God's own blood is spilled out and the earth swallows this Devine Blood, it becomes a new creation. The Blood of God is the Blood of Christ. There is no separation of persons, but the oneness of the Trinity comes together in this one act of pure Atonement. God saves!
Once we come to an understanding that the Crucifixion was the restoration of creation, past, present, and future, then our journey takes us on a most amazing road, the road to God. The Celts seek to have a relationship with God through the sacrifice God has made for them. It is personal and it is powerful. They do not seek rituals, rites, vestments, holy structures, or anything made with human hands to find God. They find God in themselves, in nature, in song, in dance, in all the tangible places where they live, work, and play. They encounter God in the thin places of their lives. For them life is everlasting and the relationship between the living and those who have lived can be found in thin places as well.
This is a good resting place for now. We will continue our journey in Teachings III.
The Way of the Cross
A Celtic Journey with Jesus Christ
February 16, 2020
We will walk the Celtic Way together and learn. Be prayerful and open your hearts and minds to God's Spirit as we walk. Episcopal Teaching II we talked about the Atonement and in this Teaching, we will examine more deeply the Celts' understanding of what Atonement means in their Christian belief and spirituality.
My grandmother and mother taught me, that it is the Crucifixion that leads to the Atonement, and the Atonement leads to the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. This quadrilateral of events in the life of Christ lays the foundation stone for our Salvation, marked in time and space, opening an Eternal thin place forever between the created world and the spiritual world of the heavens (the life to come). This is the only path to Salvation and there are no other paths one can travel to be saved. What they taught me was this and it still remains edged in my memory and heart.
The Crucifixion and the Atonement are to be understood as God, the Creator, in the Person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, sacrificed Himself for the sins of the human creatures. Remembering, in Eden, the sin was blaming God and not taking responsibility for their own actions, a lack of repentance on the part of the human creatures. (In the days of Noah it is written of God: "It repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.") God saved a remnant of creation from the flood and established a Covenant between the earth and Himself that He would never again destroy the world with water. The rainbow is the symbol of that promise. Through the Ages, God established many Covenants with the human creatures through the man called Abraham. It is the calling of Israel, a People called to be God's chosen among the peoples of the earth that God establishes His Law with Moses. The Law is the way to Salvation, but in itself is not Salvation. The Law sets the standards for God's relationship with humanity and creation. The Law places responsibility on humanity for their actions and holds them accountable to the standards God has set. Under the Law, God governs creation. The human creatures were weak and started sacrificing animals to God as a way of repentance to seek His forgiveness, thus the concept of the sacrificial lamb is born. It is recorded that God spoke through the prophets saying: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Therefore, in the fullness of time, God becomes flesh and blood in the Person of Jesus Christ, who is seen as the Lamb of God. To bring Salvation to the world, required that God Himself, sacrifice His Lamb to meet the full requirements of His Law. God offered Himself as the Atonement of the creatures' sin, the only way to bring Salvation to the world was through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. God took responsibility for Creation and for all the woes associated with creating all that was made, both visible and invisible, for the past, the present, and the future, all the sins committed, all the infractions made, there was nothing omitted in God's Act of Atonement. It is very important to understand that in this one Act, God encompassed every action from before the beginning of time to after the ending of time. God laid all, upon His Lamb (His Son) and thereby made a Full and Sufficient Sacrifice once and forevermore. The Christ, the Word made flesh, the Creator of all that is made, coexisting with God for Eternity, never separated from the Trinity, suddenly becomes sinful flesh and blood, an outcast of creation, a cursed soul, and all this was laid upon Him, who hung on the Cross. The world became dark and this Christ of God cries in a loud and agonizing voice: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" And in the moment of Salvation, Christ says: "It is Finished." The foundations of the heavens and the earth below were shaken to their core. This was the Crucifixion and Atonement. From this moment and forever to be saved would require the acknowledgment (belief) of God in Jesus Christ, His Death on the Cross for all sins, His life or Gospel, His Baptism (new creation), His giving of Himself in the breaking of bread and sharing of the cup of Salvation (the Gift of God), and to seal this Act once and forevermore, God raised His Christ from the dead after three days, three days Christ proclaimed the fulfillment of the Law in hell and all who believed were saved in the Resurrection and were raised from the dead when Christ returned from the dead. He Ascended to God and there He reigns in the unity of the Trinity once again. The only time the Trinity has ever been broken was for that brief moment on the Cross.
My grandmother and mother told me that Salvation isn't cheap grace and that those who take God's Sacrifice lightly will find at the end of their journey, the Christ of the Cross, still holding the keys to the gates of Hell. Salvation was paid for by a high and holy price. We, human creatures, should not take lightly this Act of a loving God or we will be cast out into utter darkness for the rest of Eternity. God's patience is seen in history and His mercy seen in the Cross. God no longer owes the creatures of creation anything, God met His obligation. It is now our obligation to believe in Him and to obey His Gospel. The Gospel in the Life of Jesus Christ gives us only two commandments: "Love God because He is God and for no other reason or benefit. Love each other, as God has loved you, and do no harm to God's creation."
We come to another resting place on our journey. Teaching IV will be the proceeding of the Holy Spirit to the formation of the Church, the Body of Christ.
The Way of the Cross
A Celtic Journey with Jesus Christ
February 16, 2020
We will walk the Celtic Way together and learn. Be prayerful and open your hearts and minds to God's Spirit as we walk. Episcopal Teaching III opens an Eternal thin place forever between the created world and the spiritual world of the heavens (the life to come). Through this Eternal thin place, the Holy Spirit proceeds forth from God the Father and God the Son making known to all creation the unity of the Trinity in the Oneness of God. The Holy Spirit is able to come into the created world because of the Atonement made by God in the Person of Christ. The Holy Spirit will now make His dwelling place in the created world and in the hearts and minds of Christ's Body in that world, the Church. The Holy Spirit moves through nature to reconcile all of creation to God the Creator. All creatures, great and small, now acknowledge God as Sovereign over all creation, and life itself is sacred and valuable. Nature accepts the Sovereignty and Providence of God as Lord over all that is seen and unseen. Where there was darkness, now there is light. In this light, the Holy Spirit calls forth the Church on the Day of Pentecost descending as "flames of fire" upon those who believe and confess to Jesus of Nazareth that; "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." And to them, who believe and make this confession, which is the Cornerstone and Rock on which FAITH is given, Christ will build His Church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. Christ will give His Church the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever the Church teaches on earth will be upheld in heaven, and whatever the Church forgives on earth will be forgiven in heaven. The human creatures who make up the Church aren't given special power, the power belongs to the Holy Spirit who calls the Church into being. Just as God called Israel to be His People, so God in Christ calls the Church to be the Body of Christ, with Christ as its Chief Priest and Pastor. A new understanding of the Church, that has no design on human supremacy to rule over it, but a clear understanding that Christ working through the Holy Spirit is the Chief Shepherd of the Church, the flock of God. Just as Christ came to serve, so those Christ calls in His Church are to serve, He set the example for such servitude. The making of deacons, the ordering of priestly monks, and the consecration of bishops are all positions of service and are all equals among the whole of the Body of Christ. There are no positions of supremacy or titles of regency in Christ's Church. It was at this point that St. John, St. James the brother of Jesus, and St. Joseph of Arimathea instituted the structure of the Celtic Church that would survive over 2,000 years intact. When Roman Emperor Constantine I, established the Roman Catholic Church as an institution and official religion of the Roman Empire, the Celts refused to accept the supremacy of Rome, and the Roman Legions attempted to decimate the Celtic Christian Church. The Celts went underground and fled the Roman Empire to find shelter and safety outside its borders. Settling in Denmark, the British Isles, and Ireland, the Celts made their home among the ancient tribes and blended into their cultures. From the richness of these blended cultures comes a Christianity and Spirituality that is grounded and rooted in the personal relationship believers have with God in Christ. There are no profound doctrines or dogmas, no papal edicts, no formal liturgy, no classification for clergy, no establishment of hierarchical orders, and no grand buildings with high altars for worship. The Celts were a simple farming folk of the earth. They were respectful of nature, and in tune with nature, so much so, that their faith was absorbed in everything around them. The worship of God was a part of their music, songs, dances, celebrations of the seasons, and just about everything else they were involved in reflected their faith and understanding of God's rightful place in all of life. The Celtic priestly monks and bishops were travelers going from community to community to share in the teachings of the Gospel and sharing of the sacraments to the believer communities. The Celtic deacons were those in the community who cared for the orphans, the sick, and the elderly, they were also the teachers, and in some cases the community arbitrators. In all things, devout respect for God and creation was paramount to their belief system.
The Celts were a people of prayer and devotion, sharing what they had with others freely, and living in peace as best they could with their neighbors. They were not given to wars, but they were fearless warriors when called upon to defend their communities from outside invasions, i.e. the Romans.
It is from the Celts that the purest and simpleness of the practices of the Gospel message developed and were handed down through generations to the current day. What we have today, is a rediscovery of this vast richness of faith, belief, and practice. The prayer life and meditation disciplines of the ancient Celts created a spirituality that is unparalleled in any other Christian community. Nature provided their Cathedrals for worship, the stones of the earth were their altars for the celebration of the breaking of bread and sharing of the wine, the streams and rivers provided running water for their baptisms, and throughout their lands were erected Celtic Crosses to remind travelers of the sacred thin places. These were and are remarkable people, who survived for over 2,000 years without compromising their faith. When I say, the Celts kept the Apostolic faith alive and in its simplest purity, to maintain the one, holy, catholic, and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, as the true Church, I am humbled to be counted in the lineage of this Tradition.
We will rest now for a while before we continue this journey. This ends the Teachings but begins the journey toward an understanding of Celtic belief and faith in the hope of developing a more perfect spiritual relationship between us and God in Christ.