Celtic Spirituality in Kentucky

Friday, August 19, 2005

Once Upon A Time, Long Time Ago,

Once upon a time, long time ago, a Spell was cast upon the people across the land.
The Spell made people believe that they were incomplete and needed something else to be whole.
The Spell also made people believe that we are all separate beings with no connection with each other or the rest of life or nature.

People were made to believe that they were born needing things to be happy, and needing Shamans and priests to talk to God and to be our intermediaries, to warn us and protect us.
The Spell included the belief that those things they could not see, hear feel, smell or taste did not exist. Only the outside material world really counts.
The Spell caused people to believe that only humans had a soul, and that a punishing God was ready to judge. Shamans and priests also taught people to be dependent, fearful and guilty.
Happiness could be reached only by having as many things as possible, or having as much money as they could get, and having power over others, over animals, over nature.
The Spell included the belief that people were not responsible for their own happiness, that they would need something or someone outside themselves to give that gift and blessing.
The Spell led us to believe that we are not creative, that we really do not need each other, and that our main role was to work and behave and conform to the expectations of parents and society.

The Spell continues today.
The effects of the Spell was to put people to sleep and to cover their eyes with a film.
We forgot about our own beauty, the beauty of children and the beauty of every day and of life.
We forgot about the purpose of our souls. We were never taught to discover Who We Are.
We were never taught to recognize that each person has a hole in our heart that only the mystery of Love could fill.
The wonder, awe, sense of mystery, creativity, and adventure that we often felt, at least briefly, as small children was never nourished. We forgot the excitement of being alive and curious.
The Light went out of our lives.
Life became dull and routine and getting by with a few small pleasures.
Empty gazes and fear and suspicion of others replaced the Light.
We forgot how to talk to nature, how to listen and how to love.
Everything became a problem to be solved, not a mystery to be lived, embraced and loved.

The story continues in the classes of Social Ethics, Philosophy and Theology at Midway College with Rev. Dr. Paschal Baute, and in his workshops on Celtic Spirituality. For your own reading, see the books and tapes by John O’Donohue on Beauty, also writings by J. Philip Howell, Tom Cowan and others. Contact him at pbbaute@paschalbaute.com for more information. Go to www.paschalbaute.com/writing and scroll down to Celtic Spirituality in Kentucky blog.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Question about the value of Creeds?

“I would like you, if you have time, to speak to the
use and value of Creeds primarily the Apostles' and Nicene.

I find that I stumble over the apparent meanings and intentions of the words used. I find that when I pray these Creeds I mean and intend something different.
I have discovered, after serving the institutional church for 35 yrs. That I
experience truer "worship" than in a large church setting.” --from a member of the Celtic Christian church, to which I belong.

Answer attempted. This is a heavy question, loaded with the possibility of “heresy,”
so I must tread softly and lightly. I need to answer this is several parts.

Part 1. Let me begin with a true story.
Two associates, both of whom I had shared a number of discussions, each went home from Sunday Eucharist and committed suicide that same evening. . Both were professionals, lawyers, fine reputations (one more a statesman than a politician in Kentucky, active for many years on state level) both alcoholics. I had lost recent contact with each and had not spoken with either for some time. One was Episcopal and one Catholic. These events happened within the past year.

Consider that we can go to weekly Mass, recite the creeds, pray, sing, and hear preaching and receive the Eucharist, without ever having to hear or listen to the pain, loneliness or suffering of a single human being, even one sitting beside me. Is that possibly a pseudo-intimacy with this mystery we call God. Can we really “go” to God without hearing the pain of our brothers and sisters, and presume to do so where such listening is ritually excluded? (In many services an “Amen” out of place will receive stares) Does that church service place the importance of “spiritual connection” on recitation, and receiving concepts and symbols to the exclusion of the authentic humanity of the gathering? We are supposedly blessed and redeemed by the service without ever needing to be vulnerable? To presume that we can “Go to God” without listening to our neighbor was condemned by the prophets and implicitly by the parables of Jesus, see Good Samaritan, and Judgment scene in Matthew 25: 36 ff.

Now contrast that service with the gathering of our Spiritual Growth Network of Kentucky, now soon to begin our 17th year. We begin with some drumming to indicate that we are in a different holy place and calling the Spirit, then quiet meditation for 20 minutes, then personal sharing, each with a possible turn without any response, then if time is left, usually only a few minutes, we react to themes that have emerged. Each is invited to share their own spiritual journey for the precious week, but with no pressure to do so. The sharing begins with the volunteer leader for the day, choosing a short passage for Mindfulness and Inspiration, from a collection.

Which of these is a more intimate communion with an Incarnational Christ, Emmanuel, already here amongst us? Which requires more risk and vulnerability? Which requires more active faith accepting the uniqueness of each journey in the diversity of stories told? Which of the two settings is a greater incentive for loving and stretching our loving? Which is more authentic as well as also creating genuine community? Which is more “saving,” and in the spirit of Jesus, who told us when we pray, go to a closet and pray in private?

I offer that neither of these two good men would have committed suicide if they had been regularly attending the second kind of service, where personal sharing and listening to the faith journey and pain of others is a key part of the ritual. (P.S. we do not propose our SGN meetings as in competition with any other faith commitment, so we hold our regular weekly meetings at 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons)

Consider that a Christian of most denominations over a lifetime can go to many thousands of worship services and never be invited or required to listen or hear the pain, loneliness or discouragement of a single person sitting next to them. Life long attendance, and be encouraged to believe that such worship is in itself, by itself, pleasing to God, and possibly sufficient. Most members of any religious jurisdiction are nominal, so focus is on membership, money and maintaining the buildings. Is this what Jesus was about? If we are meant to become lovers, (see my catechism draft posted yesterday) does the typical worship service inspire and lead us to do so?

Part 2, to be continued. How saving is the recitation of the creeds today? Historical perspective. Do these truths speak to our children? Can we appreciate truth without beauty? (See O’Donohue, tapes and book on Beauty)

Paschal in Lexington.
P.S. I write regularly on the Net, on a variety of topics, our Spiritual Growth Network, Celtic Spirituality, Love, Spirit, Poetry, Fundamentalism, Human Shadow, various ministries, etc.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Celtic Spirituality in Kentucky

Celtic Spirituality
Day of Recollection
Saturday, September 17,
3 to 8 p.m
Paschal's Retreat Center
Winchester Road
Lexington, Ky

Reservations necessary
No fee: offering only.
Supper Potluck: veggies, salad and fruit
(beverages provided)

Celtic spirituality has two distinctive themes. The first is the belief that what is deepest in every human being is the very image of God. This means that God’s passion for love, beauty and justice is already at core of our being. God’s yearning for creativity and new beginnings, for beauty and love, is already deep within the mystery of our souls.

Well-being, therefore, is not becoming somebody else but becoming truly ourselves. We are sacred not because we are baptized, or because we have passed through some religious ritual. Rather, we are sacred because we are born. Our spiritual journey is about becoming authentic, from inside out.

The second theme of Celtic spirituality is the belief in the essential goodness of creation. Not only is creation good, it is theophany-a flowering of the mystery of God.

Where do we look for God? In life and love, in our relationships. We look to the heart of all that God has expressed in nature and through us. We simply find the heartbeat of God everywhere.

We will explore how each person is already naturally and intuitively responsive, from childhood on, to a Celtic spirituality. This is a “positive psychology” several millennia before the concept was invented.

References are offered for pre-workshop reading. Reservations are necessary. Casual clothing, pen and writing pad. Enrollment limited.

Paschal Baute and our SGN leadership team.
tel 859-293-5302
email: pbbaute@paschalbaute.com
further writing on Celtic Spirituality, love, poetry, healthy spirituality, etc.