A Celtic Blessing

A Celtic Blessing

Celtic Christianity has witnessed a revival of sorts around the globe over the past decade or two. It has become rather trendy and perhaps a tad over-commercialized; as if it were the panacea of Christendom and the antidote to post-modernism. However, one would be foolish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are, with the gift of discernment, many treasures within Celtic Christianity that nurture our lives and faith today. For example, from Celtic Daily Prayer: A Northumbrian Office, in my 1994 edition on page 18 of the Midday Prayer, there is this wonderful Blessing:

“Let nothing disturb thee,

Nothing affright thee;

All things are passing,

God never changeth!

Patient endurance attaineth

To all things;

Who God possesseth

In nothing is wanting;

Alone God sufficeth.”

These words of blessing especially speak to me when I am agitated and irritable; when I’m struggling with doubts and anxiety is weighing me down; then these words wash over me like spring waters and clean mountain air. Moreover, the words are a fresh reminder to “Let God be God,” to, by God’s grace, honour and keep the First and Greatest Commandment.

By the way, the Northumbria Community has a web site I’ve discovered here, where you can access their Daily Offices.

Gentle readers, do you find certain Blessings or Prayers edifying? Do they renew and refresh you in your faith and life journey? Feel free to share them here with me and others who visit my blog.

Christianity in China

Christianity in China

On today’s CBC Radio program, The Current this morning—August 15, 2008—a Canadian journalist was invited to attend a Christian House Church worship service. The House Church movement is critical of the official, state-sanctioned Church, because it believes that the latter is merely a pawn of the state. These House Church Christians are under surveillance by the state and could be imprisoned for gathering to worship. Yet, as historically the Church has grown and been strengthened due to persecution—so is the Chinese House Church movement. On the other hand, those who are involved in the state-sanctioned Church claim that they can be a positive influence on the government to move in the direction of democracy (although this point was not made in this particular program, I have heard it emphasised by Chinese Church leaders in another setting). You can listen to the program here.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Funeral

Today Russia paid their respects to Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Moscow’s Donskoi Russian Orthodox monestary cathedral. A short video presenting glimpses of the funeral is available here. Meanwhile in many Western world newspapers, coverage of Solzhenitsyn’s death and funeral has been rather sparse. May Alexander Solzhenitsyn rest in Christ’s eternal peace.

Light a candle in memory of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Light a candle in memory of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

I must confess that I have a weakness I suppose, if you want to call it that, for Russian writers—Fyodor Dostoyevsky is still by far my favourite novelist. One of my heroes of the faith, the Russian Orthodox, moral and spiritual heavyweight of the 20th century was 1970 Nobel Literature Prize winner, Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

I found his One Day in the Life of Ivan Denesovich and Gulag Archipelago the most courageous literature of the last century. Solzhenitsyn was, in my estimation, a contemporary prophet. I believe that God spared his life first as a soldier in World War II, then as a citizen of Stalin’s forced labour camps, and, in the aftermath of that, as the subject of persecution by the KGB for publishing Gulag Archipelago. I think that the Nobel Committee was most insightful in awarding Solzhenitsyn their Prize; it may have been one of the factors that saved his life. However, in spite of the West’s criticism of the Soviet authorities, the latter decided to strip Solzhenitsyn of his citizenship and expel him from Russia. His intellectual rigour was—he could even memorize an entire novel because he was deprived of pen and paper—amazing.

With the eyes of a prophet, Solzhenitsyn had insights into both the Soviet version of Communism and Western democracies. He was critical of both, exposing the truth without compromise. He critiqued both for what he regarded as their moral-spiritual corruption. For that he was persecuted and largely ignored—the prophet has no honour in their own time and place. However, as Jesus’ Beatitude confirms: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) I believe that Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a living testimony to this Beatitude. Thank God for the life of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, grant him eternal rest in you, O Lord. I am going to light a candle—and I encourage you to do the same—in memory of Alexander Solzhenitsyn. You can read one version of his obituary here.

Light a candle

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness. You can participate in Amnesty International’s light a candle to support human rights and end censorship in China campaign here, which will be given to the Chinese ambassador. Thank you!