“Several years ago I heard the bishop of Massachusetts, M. Thomas Shaw, speak at the cathedral in Boston of his experience of being in the Holy Land for Lent that year. There it is summertime during the weeks before Easter, with the desert in full bloom, the trees laden with olives and figs, the hazy smell of ripe fruit and sound of buzzing insects filling the air. As he moved through the days of prayer and reflection before Easter in the midst of such abundance and beauty he came to understand Lent as a time of being refreshed by a loving God instead of a time of arduous effort to improve.” – page 52 from “Welcome to the Church Year: An Introduction to the Seasons of the Episcopal Church” by Vicki K. Black
I think of Lent as both a time to be restored and renewed, and also a time of taking stock. It is a time to strengthen the spiritual life. It is a spiritual “check-in” and can be a time of healing in the most profound of ways. It is time for a re-awakening of our spiritual life, and for Christians this leads up to the renewal of our own baptismal vows on Easter as catechumens are baptized into Christianity.
These weeks of Lent are simpler, quieter and more harmonious than other weeks of the year if we let them be. Continue reading
Holy Week is upon us! I wanted to share a few ideas with you all about celebrating Lent and Holy Week. Lent is such a beautiful time. I love what Orthodox Christian priest Anthony Coniaris writes in his book, “ Making God Real in the Orthodox Christian Home”:
It is significant that Lent happens to coincide with Spring in the northern climes. I think there is a wonderful lesson for us in this happy coincidence. Lent should be for all of us a period of placing ourselves in the position where the best things can happen for us. That position for Orthodox Christians is the presence of Christ, where the Sun of His love and power can shine into our arid souls to bring about a real awakening, a real springtime of the soul.
Here are some brief suggestions for celebrating Lent and Holy Week: Continue reading
We often walk through Advent with our favorite Saints, and I have suggested a variety of Celtic Saints to provide adult inspiration during Lent. I try very hard to remember that there are fifty days of Eastertide coming, and to try not to rush into Easter when there are so many wonderful things about the anticipation and reflection that occurs during Lent.
There are some wonderful books for Lent. Here are a few of our family’s favorites:
I love this book about Saint Kevin of Ireland and the blackbird’s nest. It tells the story of how Saint Kevin came to gain self-discipline by having to hold a blackbird’s nest for the forty days of Lent. This story would be especially wonderful for the second grader in your house. Continue reading
“Do ye the little things in life.”
I love this day in the year! It is the Feast Day of St. David, patron Saint of Wales. Wonderful, wonderful stories abound about St. David. He was known for his austere monastic lifestyle where he and his monks would hook themselves up to plows instead of using oxen and plough the fields themselves. They ate no meat, nor ale, but appeared to have endless energy for hard labor and for prayer.
However, the main thing St. David was noted for was for his loving kindness, for his gentle words, for his respect for others, the way he observed others and did small things to help build up life in Christ for others.
I often think of St. David. Homemaking, after all, is a labor of small things. Sometimes it is a labor of small things done time and time again. Continue reading
The Anglican Communion recognizes all the great and Holy Early Church fathers, just as our Orthodox and Roman Catholic brothers and sisters do. But we do hold a special place in our hearts for St. Ninian, a pioneer in the Christian faith during the fourth century who established a monastery in a remote isle location in Scotland.
I found a little thumbnail on the Internet that I couldn’t seem to enlarge. It was what is left of the Chapel of Ninian at the Isle of Whitby (Whithorn in his native language). Bishop Ninian is considered Scotland’s first Saint (see my Homemaking in Lent post about the very brief history of Christianity in Great Britain to understand how Christianity was pushed into Wales, Scotland and Cornwall).
There is not much known about St. Ninian. It is almost certain that was a Briton and that he traveled to Rome for training – so therefore, he was more tied into the Roman Church of the time than the Celtic Church. His monastery was a center of learning and it was called the Candida Casa, the “white house”. From there, he went out to the Picts and other neighboring tribes and took the news of Christianity with him. Part of the legend around him stipulates that he sowed seeds that grew so fast they became mature plants in a day and that is how the monastery received its food and survived. He planted his ideas and faith in those studying with him, and St. Kentigern, or Mungo as some of you may know him, became one of the most famous. Continue reading
In homemaking, one thing I would like to encourage is to give value to the innermost experiences of your soul, not just the outward. In other words, homemaking is not just about whether or not the house is picked up or the everyone has clean underwear (although those things are nice, ) , but how you feel about your family and your home during each season. How does your homemaking reflect the seasons of your soul.
This is the eve before Lent begins in the Western Church. Before you decide to click off this page because you are not Christian or anything else, realize that Lent is a season that anyone can celebrate. It is a journey of the heart and the mind, a time of examination and stillness, a time of renewal of life, of renewal of mind heading into a spring that right now seems so far away. For me, Lent is a time where I deliberately examine my own choices – how I am using my time, am I serving my family, am I taking care of myself? It is a time to find a renewed source of strength.
I would like to walk through these days with you with my favorite friends: some of the Celtic Holy ones. I love the Celtic Saints, or you can just call them your Celtic Holy Companions, because they were so very interesting and inspiring and I do think they represent a point of commonality amongst all Christian denominations and form a bedrock of Western Civilization. In Advent, we often travel through Advent and mark St. Nicholas Day and Santa Lucia Day for cultural reasons, for religious reasons and for personal reasons to find light in the darkest of days. Why not do this in Lent? There are wonderful holy people to be celebrated during Lent to inspire you to renewal.
Here is a brief background, based on my understanding of the early Celtic Church, that might help you understand the Celtic Saints a little better: Continue reading