Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Celtic Spirituality


For Lent I read John O'Donohue's "Anam Cara:A Book of Celtic Wisdom," a birthday gift. Anam Cara (spelled in a variety of ways) is Irish for "soul friend." I first heard about it in the 1970's when I was studying the history of the sacrament of reconciliation. The ancient Druids chose an Anam Cara, a wise confidant with whom to discuss their spiritual life. When the Irish became Christians they continued to have soul friends. When the practice of public penance faded away this Druid practice very gradually developed into private confession. This book and another that I am reading now talks about the value of having a soul friend.
O'Donohue's book as a whole is a worthwhile insight into Celtic spirituality. One of things I find most attractive about it is how unstructured it is. I am struck by how compatible the ancient Druid awareness of God in all of nature fits in so well with our Catholic sense of natural things as carriers of God. I wonder whether that's why Christianity was accepted so universally in Ireland.
I am having a hard time concentrating on this now with a thunderstorm raging outside, speaking of God in nature.
The picture is a plum tree I pass on my morning walk.
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