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God blessed them and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth; subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.” — Genesis 1:28
On December 26, 1966, Lynn Townsend White jr, a professor of medieval history at the University of California in Los Angeles gave a lecture at the Washington meeting of the AAAS, that was later published (10 March 1967) in the journal Science. In 1967, Lynne, published an article entitled “The historical roots of present-day ecologic crisis.” Lynn was the very first academic to argue that the shift in perspective introduced by Judaeo-Christianity had opened the door to “disenchantment with the world,” materialism and a new matter-spirit dualism with deleterious ecological effects; his conviction then rests on passages of Scripture incriminating in his eyes. The most quoted remains this famous extract from the Book of Genesis where it is understood that Humanity has a distinct and favoured standing compared to the rest of Creation:
“And God said, “Let us make man in our image and likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the wild animals and reptiles that crawl upon the earth.” God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. God blessed them and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth; subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the seas and over the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves upon the earth.”” Genesis 1:26-28
This position of Lynn Townsend White jr, has been a reference by an entire generation of ecologists.
White postulate that these beliefs have led to humanity’s indifference towards nature which continues to impact in an industrial, “post-Christian” world. He concludes that by exerting even more science and technology to the problem that it will be of no use, that it is humanity’s fundamental perceptions about nature that have to be change; we must abandon “superior, contemptuous” attitudes that makes us “willing to use it [the earth] for our slightest whim.” White suggests adopting St. Francis of Assisi as the exemplar in visualising a “democracy” of creation in which all creatures are respected as equals and that man’s rule over creation are delimited.
Not long after White’s publication, Wendell Erdman Berry, a Christian novelist, poet, essayist, environmental activist, cultural critic and farmer began to examined similar issues. He also traced contemporary environmental attitudes towards medieval Christianity but focused on the teaching of De Contemptu Mundi (contempt for the world). This teaching devalued earthly concerns and life in this world in favour of concentrating on the world to come after the return of Jesus Christ.
Medieval Christian teaching placed little or almost nothing of value on this earth compared to eternity. This idea gave rise to the attitude that creation was provided for no other reason than to serve human needs. From this perspective, the land is simply a means to an end. The world is here to support us, not the other way around; it is a one way street.
If we fast-forward to modern day, we can see that “our science and technology have grown out of Christian attitudes toward man’s relationship to nature.” Because those “Christian attitudes” did not teach that human beings need to take care of the earth, the way was paved for science and technology to become destructive forces for the environment.
Are these attitudes perhaps a result of biblical teachings, or has Scripture somehow been distorted or completely misunderstood?
Does care for creation matter?
Some Christians hold beliefs —that seem to be embedded within Scriptures— which contribute to humanity’s attitude of indifference or exploitation of the Earth’s resources. One of those beliefs emanates from God’s promise to humanity for the times to come.
Christians tightly hold on to God’s promise of a new earth. In the book of Revelation, the consummation of God’s plan for humanity is described as a new heaven and a new earth. In fact, Paul, one of the New Testament writers, states:
“… Indeed, creation itself eagerly awaits the revelation of the children of God. For creation was subjected to frustration, not of its own choice but by the will of the one who subjected it, in the hope that creation itself will be freed from its slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. As we know, the entire creation has been groaning in labor pains until now…”
So why is the earth “groaning”? When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment “…you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” the earth bore part of the consequences of that first human sin, the origin of evil. “Cursed be the soil because of you!” God told Adam. Right from the very beginnings, humans have be a cause for disaster upon the earth. Some have come to the conclusion that because of this, and because of God’s covenant of “a new heavens and a new earth,” current creation needs to be destroyed in order to make way for the new. This pretendedly justifies our soulless approach toward the Earth, plundering and wastefully desecration its resources. So, you may ask, why should I worry about the use of energy, air to breathe, clean water to drink or ensuring that we have clean and fecund soil? Surely God would have provided enough of everything to last until the return of Jesus.
Of course, this thought process assumes that:
- the earth is to be exploited for human purposes,
- God’s plans for the earth’s future make it expendable, and
- human beings have no responsibility for the care of the earth and of all of creation.
However, it ignores the fact that it is God —and not human beings— who determines how long the earth will endure. Humanity whilst we are on earth, have a responsibility to live upon the earth sustainably because we have absolutely no idea as to when the end will come to pass.
Moreover, the fact that the earth itself is part of what God desires to save through Jesus Christ seems to underline the importance of the earth’s creation —and that destruction is not a part of God’s plan. In fact, biblical Christianity demands of us the care of all of God’s creation, and not —as the capitalist believes— its plunder and devastation.
Creation in Genesis
Although Berry agrees that some of the tenets of the medieval church have contributed toward the plunder and devastation of the environment as civilisation developed, he is equally convinced that these practices have not originate from biblical teaching. From the beginning, the Bible has held us accountable to care for the creation within which we live.
Biblical teaching regarding human beings and creation begins with the simple statement that we are a part of the creation of the earth and not set apart from it. In the Genesis narration, human beings were created on the sixth day, along with everything else that lives upon this earth.
Man —called אָדָם Adam meaning “mankind” [non gender specific]— is formed “of the dust of the ground.” Man is made of the earth —in Hebrew “earth” is אדמה adamah— it means that God literally formed Adam out of the adamah. Even in name, humanity and the earth are connected. And because man is both made from the adamah and inhabits it, it is, therefore, our responsibility to fulfil our future which is connected to a commensurate responsibility on our part to the earth.
However, at some point in Western history, we began to think of ourselves as entirely distinct and separate from the rest of creation, which, increasingly, is known as “nature.” We have ceased to view ourselves as part of the natural world. Perhaps, this is as a result of our separation from God in the Garden of Eden as we also increasingly find ourselves separated from God’s creation as well.
Representatives of God at Creation
According to the Bible, “God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them” For generations, mankind and their theologians and scholars have contemplate the profoundness of what that phrase “in his image” actually alludes to.
In context, the expression would imply some form of delegated role for human beings on this planet. In some manner each and every one of us is expected to represent God to the rest of His world; after all, we are each an image of God upon this earth.
In Genesis 1:28, Adam and Eve are told to “subdue” and “rule” the earth, as those who bear the image of God. In Genesis 2:15 we learn that a mankind has been charged by God to “work [in the garden] and care for it.” But our subjugation and rule on earth, equals to being God’s representatives on earth, in the same manner that God —the same God whom proclaimed His creation as being “very good”— would have been enough.
So what exactly is God’s relationship to His own creation? What precisely is it that we should be representing? And what kind of an image should we actually be reflecting?
Not only did God create the world, but he also provides for and cares for the world throughout the biblical narrative. The Psalms recount how God “pities all of His creation.” Frequently, Jesus refers to God’s detailed attention to creation as he “feeds the birds in the sky and clothes the lilies in the field yet they neither labor nor spin.”
I therefore need to ask, how should those who have been chosen to represent God in his creation relate to it?
Stewards of all Creation
The best illustration of how we should relate to the earth is the concept of a steward, which occurs throughout the Bible time and time again. In biblical terms, Stewardship is the “utilisation and management of all the resources God has provided for His own glory and for the improvement of His own creation.” Christian Stewardship regards the obligation of Christians in managing and utilising intelligently the gifts that God has given. Stewardship in the biblical sense defines our practical obedience in the administration of everything that is under our control, everything entrusted to us. It is the consecration of one’s self and possessions into God’s service. Stewardship acknowledges in practice that we do not have the right of control over ourselves or our property—God has that control. It means as stewards of God we are managers of that which belongs to God, and we are under His constant authority as we administer His affairs. Faithful stewardship means that we fully acknowledge we are not our own but belong to God our creator and to His Son Jesus Christ, our saviour and Lord, who gave His life for us.
Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” That verse makes it quite clear that all of creation belongs to God. This means that humans ultimately do not own the land. As such, it is not ours to abuse. The privilege of living here is a gift, graciously given by a loving God. But we are the ones in charge of this place. We are accountable to the Owner for how we care about it.
This is made evident in the laws given to ancient Israel when they entered the promised land. The land was explicitly described as “given” to them by God. It was a gift. It had not been earned by them as a reward nor had it in way been deserved. They did not create it on their own. God gave it to them, with instructions and proviso’s for its care. The Israelites had received extremely detailed instructions on how the land should be cared for. For example, the fields were laid to rest for a year every seven years in order to give the land “one year of rest in honour of the Lord,” at this time no one may sow the field nor prune the vineyard.
Furthermore, Israel was further admonished that their relationship with the land would be entirely dependent on their unwavering faithfulness to the Lord their God. Any unfaithfulness or disobedience whatsoever would bring upon Israel “unrelenting pestilence, droughts and locusts” the land would be made to suffer. However, God, in His infinite mercy, told them that he would also forgive them and heal the land when “my people … humble themselves and pray to me and seek my presence as they turn from their wicked ways”
Here once again, we can witness the interconnectivity between humanity, creation, and their Creator.
How to take care of creation
Although a certain amount of responsibility can be apportioned to Christianity for being complicit in humanity’s defilement, plundering and destruction of God’s creation, such conduct does not originate from the teachings of the Bible. Correct human use of creation requires an attitude of humility, gratitude, affection, and co-responsibility on our part — not destruction and exploitation.
Care for creation can be expressed in a number of practical ways. Simply paying attention to one’s own consumption, waste, lifestyle and helping to take care of the earth. We can grow our own or choose locally produced food, buy items that are in season and that would inflict the least damage upon the land in their production. We can recycle. We can use waste as fertiliser; we can use water responsibly; we can pick up trash and dispose of it properly. We can walk or cycle if its local instead of taking the car. To get a brief idea take a look at the Dialogue Theology & Science website article “Is Sustainability a Christian Imperative?” By Robert S. White, FRS. [https://www.theologie-naturwissenschaften.de/en/dialogue-between-theology-and-science/editorials/is-sustainability-a-christian-imperative]
There are a wide variety of ways to care for the earth. As stewards of God’s creation, it is our duty and privilege to care for the earth. Read “The Stewardship of Creation” by Russell A. Butkus at The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University. [You can download a copy in .Pdf format here.]
You may also find “Study Guides for Moral Landscape of Creation” useful. These guides integrate Bible study, prayer, and worship to help us delight in and care for God’s creation. The guides can be used in a series or individually. You may download and reproduce them for personal or group use. [You can download a copy in .Pdf format here.]Continue reading “If God Created the World, do Christians need to worry about the environment?”
Article translated from the l’Osservatore Romano Monday-Tuesday 3-4 February 2014, p. 4. article by Giovanni Preziosi translated by Fr. Vincent Courtney ESB (csr) The Hermits of Saint Bruno at St. Mary’s Hermitage.
On the night between 3 and 4 February 1944, the fascist raid on the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls at the Piazzale San Paolo in Rome.
Not even their Osservatore Romano, Vatican issued ID card would save them.
After having brought to a successful conclusion the blitz within the extraterritorial complex of Basilica of Saint Mary Major, between 3-4 February, 1944. Under favourable darkness of the night, a Special Service of the police department of the Republic of Salò, directed by Lieutenant Pietro Koch, with a complement of one hundred men placed at his disposal by the new Fascist commissioner of Rome Pietro Caruso, utterly ignoring and without the slightest regard to the agreements enshrined within the Lateran Pact of 1929 and the extraterritorial buildings under the protection of the Holy See, Koch and his men through subterfuge entered into the Benedictine monastery of Saint Paul outside the Walls. The authentic deus ex machina of this operation had also been a former Vallombrosan Benedictine friar, having recently been suspended a divinis [which forbids the person from using authority of their Holy Orders] expressly for joining the Banda Koch (which soon became a by-word for cruelty and violence), was the twenty-eight year old Alfredo Epaminonda Troya also known as Don Ildefonso Troya —better known within the espionage confraternity of the time where he used the pseudonym of Elio Desi — with a subtle cunning, Troya had lured the unsuspecting doorkeeper Friar Vittorino into a trap, who, after a few moments of hesitation, yielding to his insistence, had opened the main entrance gate of the abbey.
The raid has been described in great detail by the chronicler of the Camaldolese monastery of Saint Gregory the Great on the Caelian Hill: «The notorious commissioner of Rome Caruso with his band of bravacci [braggarts] (…) manages to cross over the threshold of the monastery and commences a night of terror for the hermit-monk’s within the walls of this monastery. Cutting all of the telephone wires thus removing all means of communication with the outside world; He and his men keeps all of the monks locked in a room with machine guns aimed at their chests for close to 12 hours while they search and rummage and pillage throughout. The monks are insulted by the inappropriate manner the monastery of the order was entered and looted by these so called officers. (…) The newspapers give voice about the events and maliciously gossip about it at length, narrating deeds and facts, giving an utterly false account of the true events. A cri de cœur rises up against the Holy See, whom in their extraterritorial and religious houses both men and items reclaimed from the German looters.»
Koch’s men stealthily sneaked into the monastery, and literally turned all the hermit-monk’s cells and the apartments of the novices’ upside down. Then, under the threat of death, having loaded weapons pointed at them, Koch arrested as many as 67 people, mostly draft evaders and Jews who had arrived in dribs and drabs since the day the armistice had begun, among whom most notably was Airforce Major General Adriano Monti the Commanding Officer Sicily Air Command, whom had been surprised wearing a cassock, which had been immortalised in a photo taken by the fascists with a camera seized from an American Office of Strategic Services liaison agent, lieutenant Maurizio Giglio, whom had infiltrated Koch’s special service division. Giglio was later captured on March 17, 1944. After a final interrogation suffered on the night of 23 March, on the following 24 morning Giglio, exhausted and unable to stand up, was transported to the Regina Coeli prison. From there, Giglio was taken on a stretcher to the Fosse Ardeatine, where he was murdered, together with the other 334 martyrs, on March 24, 1944.. Among those arrested on this day were nine officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army, fugitive police officers, carabinieri and nine Jews.
[The Fosse Ardeatine Massacre was a mass killing of 335 civilians and political prisoners carried out in Rome on 24 March 1944 by the German Nazi occupation troops during the Second World War. I wanted to share the poignant words of the memorial found at the Ardeatine:
Wayfarers thirsty for liberty – we were rounded up at random – in the street and in jail – as a reprisal cast in en masse – slaughtered and walled within these pits – italians, do not curse – mothers, brides, do not weep – children, carry with pride – the memory – of the holocaust of your fathers – if our slaughter – will have had a purpose beyond revenge – it is to enshrine the right of human existence – against the crime of murder. We were slaughtered in this place because – we fought against internal tyranny – for freedom and against the foreigner – for the independence of the homeland – we dreamt a free, just – and democratic italy. may our sacrifice and our blood – sow the seed and act as warning for – generations to come. Here we were slaughtered – victims of a horrendous sacrifice – may our sacrifice give rise to a better homeland – and to lasting peace among the peoples.
Out of the depths, I cry to you, o lord. — De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine, Domine; –יהוה קראתיך ממעמקים המעלות שירPsalm 130 (NCB)
The fascist press could not resist but to use such a glorious opportunity of using the photograph for propaganda purposes, and launched a harsh attack upon the Holy See and against Pius XII a barrage of insulting remarks, labelled with unflattering epithets because, in their opinion, Pius was allowing this to happen and therefore “these actions mark [you] as a traitor” against the people of Italy. The fascists also got their hands on nine Jews, including the brothers Arturo and Umberto Soliani who, being surprised and the Nazi-fascist bullies arrival as they were asleep in their monastic cells, tried in vain to free themselves, but during the struggle they were savagely beaten up to the point that the next day, when family members received their clothing, they could not fail but noticed that their pyjamas were saturate in their blood.
As soon as Italy had entered the war, the Soliani’s had rushed to the capital city together with their children — four-year-old Alessandro and one-year-old Angelo — and their spouses Lina and Elvira Terracina, who were being hunted by the police commissioner of Brescia Manlio Candrilli [who distinguished himself particularly for his ruthlessness in hunting Jews], who he had been on their case from the day that they had opened a costume jewellery, leather goods and gift items shop called “Alla bomboniera” in corso Zanardelli 7, of the Gardone Riviera area of Brescia. Arturo and Umberto had managed to find refuge at the Abbey of San Paolo, while Lina and Elvira, with their respective children, were given refuge and hid inside a monastery of nuns, the Sisters of Good and Perpetual Help in Via Merulana [whom hid 133 jewish women and children helping them evade the Shoah]. Unfortunately, every precaution, in the end, proved to be in vain; even the identity cards issued to Arturo and Umberto as soon as they arrived in the Benedictine monastery from the Holy See, with the Vatican emblem, which certified that they were both journalists employed by the Osservatore Romano were absolutely useless as they were ignored.
The seriousness of the incident, with the clear violation of the right of extraterritoriality sanctioned by the Lateran Pacts, obviously aroused the indignation of the Holy See which, as soon as it was made aware of the affair by the parish priest of Gesù Buon Pastore, Don Pier Luigi Occelli, the Resistance chaplain, immediately began to protest most vigorously to the competent Italian and German authorities, and without hesitation publishing a detailed background of the events in the Osservatore Romano on February 10, thus countering the article that appeared a few days earlier in the fascist newspaper “La Tribuna”. The denial of the Nazis though, was not enough to placate the irritation of the Vatican hierarchy, so much so that through the Apostolic nuncio in Bern, Monsignor Bernardini, Don Giustino Pancino was instructed to immediately urge Mussolini to take the appropriate measures and resolve the problem.
As soon as Lina and Elvira learned what had happened at the Abbey of San Paolo, fearing for the fate of their loved ones, and not wanting to give up, so much so that the latter, although she was in the last months of pregnancy, defied fate, and tried absolutely everything possible, even risking her own life by going personally, first of all, to the director of the Roman prison of Regina Coeli Donato Carretta — whom just a few days earlier had favoured the daring escape made by Sandro Pertini and Giuseppe Saragat, both anti-fascists members of the Socialist Party and future presidents of the Italian Republic — Carretta immediately showed himself indulgent, revealing the possibility of freeing her husband and her brother-in-law backed by a hefty reward that would have allowed him to flee to Switzerland and away from prying eyes so as not to suffer the foreseeable retaliation from the Nazi-fascists. The promise was a tempting one, but where could she have raised such a large sum. And time was beginning to run out?
At that point all she had left as a last playing card was to contact the commissioner Pietro Caruso directly. Most certainly Elvira was not lacking courage, so much so that, without too much thought, she rushed to the police station asking to be received by Caruso whom, without hearing her out, ordered her to leave that place immediately otherwise he would have had her arrested because she was a Jew, adding that she had to thank the creature she was carrying in her womb or that he would make provisions to that effect. Unfortunately there was nothing more she could do. Every attempt to save the two men wrecked miserably and with it so also did the hope of ever being able to embrace them again one day.
In fact, together with the other Jews captured at the basilica of San Paolo, towards the middle of February, they were first transferred to Verona, then to the Fossoli transit camp and from there, on May 16, 1944, aboard Convoy № 46, to Auschwitz. from where they would never return.
Almighty God of Our Fathers, we remember the six million people carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; by a policy of extermination through labor in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps. These innocents were killed, drowned, burned alive, tortured, beaten and some froze to death. Because of one man, a whole nation was crucified, while the world looked on in silence. In our hearts, their sacred memory will last forever and ever. Amen. God of Our Fathers, let the ashes of the children incinerated in Auschwitz, the rivers of blood spilled, be a warning to all of humanity that hatred is destructive, that violence is contagious, while man has an unlimited capacity toward cruelty. Almighty God, fulfil the prophecy of Isaiah: “They will beat their swords into plowshares … One nation will not lift up a sword against another, nor will they ever again be trained for war.” Amen.
Please, always have the courage not to remain silent when you witness wrongdoing being perpetrated, speak out unceasingly against oppression, hate, use of force, or any other forms of injustice. Remember you could be next at the receiving end of injustice. God calls every single one of us to be peacemakers; God calls us to heal our world which is broken, and within a deep unanimity of the spirit, to work for a world in which justice flourishes, where peace thrives and becomes the norm (Psalm 72:7). Peace is not something that simply materialises from above; peace must be created and maintained by us, being built and maintained by those people who beat their swords into ploughshares (Isaiah 2:4), choosing to spend money for a sustainable and peaceful future rather than on the war machine.Continue reading “On the night between 3 and 4 February 1944, the Nazi-fascist raid on the Papal Basilica”
St Finnian of Clonard died, according to the Annals of Ulster, in 549. With the possible exception of the sixth, … Continue reading The cult of St Finnian of Clonard from the VIII to the XI century
Please Note that Submitted Articles are not authored or edited by us. They are submitted to us for publication, and published by us so as to proffer an alternative view points which do not necessarily reflect our views, beliefs or opinions.
This article examines contemporary Celtic Christianity and defines its main characteristics. Set in the context of post-modern Ireland, this new religious movement is characteristically syncretic and involves a re-definition of transcendence on a human basis. It also bears witness to the fashion of pagan archaic ternarity as opposed to Christian binarity.
People today “hunger for a rhythm of worship that has roots but is not too ‘churchy’, which reflect the human concerns of our time yet also allows heaven into our everyday world. People want a framework for worship that enables them to relax, to experience awe, but also to express spontaneity, variety and local colour”. Ray Simpson, Celtic Worship Through the Year
This is how the publisher justified the publication of the work entitled Celtic Worship through the Year, which offers postmodern Christians a whole series of Celtic-inspired liturgical texts for private or collective use. Its author, Ray Simpson, inspired by the practice of exile and the mystical asceticism of the first Irish saints, settled on the island of Lindisfarne, from where he invites Christians anchored in the realities of the contemporary world. to follow the model bequeathed by the early Middle Ages which, according to him, can alone meet their deep aspirations. Ray Simpson’s work is in fact part of a very active movement of revival of Celtic spirituality which particularly affects the British Isles but begins to be exported at least to the United States, as evidenced by the very recent publication of Discovering Celtic Christianity (its Roots, Relationships and Relevance) by Bruce Reed Pullen, an American pilgrim in Celtic land. As in the days of Ireland’s Golden Age, between the VI and X centuries, some today turn their hearts and minds to the holy Irish scholars, suddenly metamorphosed into spirit guides of the western new age post-Christian.
In Ireland itself, Celticism — Chelteachas — is fashionable as evidenced by the publication and republication of numerous works dealing with the religious history of the early Middle Ages or the pre-Christian period. That the postmodern version of Celtic spirituality is also in the spotlight in post-Catholic Ireland has been amply demonstrated by the extraordinary success of the essay published in 1997 by the Irish poet, author, priest, and Hegelian philosopher Fr. John O’Donohue, Doctor of Philosophical Theology of the university of Tübingen: Anam Cara : Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World.
All over the world, the Church has perturbed about the rapid growth of new religious movements, regarding the development of a more personalised religion, fashionable, in short, about spiritualities which have eluded her. John O’Donohue’s work consequently drew anxious comment from the associate director of the Western Theological Institute Galway, Rev. Prof. Eamonn Conway. Inspired by early Celtic Christianity (that is to say still strongly tinged with paganism) and Meister Eckhart, a XIV century mystic condemned for heresy, the author retains apocryphal theories from the Christian tradition; it also makes little reference to Jesus Christ and makes no mention of the Church.
Also drawing on Hegel, Eastern philosophies and certain paganisms, clearly influenced by the New Age movement, John O’Donohue reinterpreted early Irish Christianity as an anchor and source of hope in a lonely world disenchanted because of its means of access to oneself and to communion with others.
According to Eamonn Conway, the Anam Chara —soul friend— phenomenon is indicative of the spiritual quest that characterises the contemporary era . It is also symbolic of the Church’s inability to offer refuge in the face of existential difficulties. A complex movement with sometimes confused theories, teeming with contradictions, the new Celtic Christianity is very clear on one point: the Christian churches have understood nothing of Christianity, which must be totally reinterpreted and re-created from the reinvention of the Celtic religious imagination and non-Roman primitive Christian.
Using authentic Irish prayers and blessings, he reveals the treasures that lie hidden within your own soul and the ‘ secret divinity’ in your relationships. As he traces the cycles of life and nature, he draws from the holy waters of Ireland’s spiritual heritage to lead you to a place where your heart can be healed and nourished. .
For the researcher, a wide field of investigation opens up here: analysis of ideological-religious content, sociological analysis, analysis of the process of reinventing a religious universe which is ultimately not well known and somewhat abused by its contemporary followers, etc.; everything has to be done. However, in the first place, a reflection is necessary about the phenomenon considered as rejection of an earlier system carried to the pinnacle by an all-powerful modernity and on which postmodern Ireland casts a critical eye. This will be the subject of this article.
Ireland is in the process of secularisation: this is the most obvious mark of rupture with the past. The secularisation thesis highlights the contemporary split between the political and the religious. Post-nationalist Ireland no longer recognises religion as a priority national identity constituent and is gradually breaking away from the constraints linked to the previous situation. Atheism, however, seems only marginally to gain ground: as in the rest of the Western world, if secularisation and dechristianisation are indeed at work, observers note the signs of a return of the religious, of a revival of the sacred. , of a new quest for transcendence, but in a private and no longer public mode. Denis Jeffrey, defending the hypothesis of shifts in the experience of the sacred, presents the “reappropriation of religion by the individual”  as one of the primary characteristics of postmodern religiosity. Confronted with the tragedies inherent in human existence and the particular difficulties, loneliness, dehumanisation and the loss of landmarks which characterise the contemporary way of life, the individual seeks a tool which allows him to manage the unmanageable and to achieve personal fulfilment on this earth, in the secondary hope of an Another World where it is fully realised.
This is the first project proposed by John O’Donohue in Anam Chara and in Eternal Echoes: Exploring our Yearning to Belong, published in 1998. According to him, the solution to the existential malaise is not to be found in the beliefs and practices of sects, but in a reinterpretation, one could almost say a rehabilitation of God and his image, misunderstood and betrayed in the past:
We have done terrible damage to the image of God as an ungracious moral accountant: we have frozen the feeling of God and drawn the separated mind of God into war with our own nature. God has not done that. Our thinking has; the results have been terrible, We have been abandoned in an empty universe with our poor hearts restless in a haunted longing ; furthermore this has closed the door on any possibility of entering into our own true belonging. We are victims of longing and we cannot come home. The thinking that has invented and institutionalised this life has damaged us ; we are at once guilty and afraid .
This barely disguised criticism of the proclaimed negative thought conveyed by the modern Church echoes another testimony from the neo-Celtic movement, in the Anglican context of Wales, this time: paying a vibrant tribute to the Trinity as glorified by the hymn entitled Altus Prosator, attributed to St Columba, Esther de Waal concludes:
I do not want to treat [this confession of faith] as I did the creeds which shaped my early upbringing, when I stood stiffly as though it were for the National Anthem, shoulder to shoulder with my mother and my sister in the vicarage pew as we all made this public statement weekly about our faith. 1 want to be able to take my Trinitarian understanding into my daily life, into my praying and living, and words such as this help me to do that. 
In both cases, it is individual “secular spirituality” that is at stake, comparable, claim its followers, to Celtic Christian spirituality. It is secular because it is anti-dogmatic, anti-authoritarian, anti-clerical, anti-Church; it is personal because it is in him, at the heart of his unique and incommunicable interior universe that the individual will find it. “We cannot continue to seek outside ourselves for the things we need from within”, writes John O‘Donohue; “The blessings for which we hunger are not to be found in other places or people. These gifts can only be given to you by your self. They are at home at the hearth of your soul ”.  These characteristics perfectly fit this religious thought into the postmodern movement. 
The same is true of the intimate association between the old and the new. For all the theorists of its renaissance, neo-Celtic thought is anchored both in the distant past and in the present. Sociologist Michel Maffesoli sees in a double anchoring of this type one of the characteristics of religious postmodernity.  Opposites, ancient beliefs and contemporary values are reconciled in a religious universe where elements that could have appeared contradictory and incompatible according to the Christian tradition inherited from the Renaissance take on a new meaning and coherence, reinterpreted as they are by the subject in daily quest for religiosity. “There is something ancient at work in us creating novelty,” writes John O’Donohue.  Speaking, from 1969, of the interest of the intellectuals of the two Americas for the origins of the modern nations of their continent, Mircea Éliade evoked “the desire to start history again, the nostalgia to relive the beatitude and the creative exaltation of the beginnings” ,  a time when the Puritan pioneers of North America believed “to prepare the millennium by means of a return to the virtues of the early Church” , Nostalgia for the origins, for a lost golden age, which is usually expressed in times of crisis and uncertainty is, in the same way, at work today among the defenders of the heritage of Celtic Christianity.
It manifests itself by a return to a formula of Christianity still close to Celtic paganism, and in fact presents itself as a kind of Christianised neo-paganism. It is as if the notion of contradiction between paganism and Christianity imposed by the Renaissance were forgotten and that we were returning to a high-medieval representation of the sacred, considering religious mutation as an adaptation in continuity and not as a rupture. This Christianity venerates mother earth, the light of life, water and fire. God is worshiped in his creation and as lord of the elements. The references are indistinctly pagan and Christian: Diarmuid and Grainne (Tóraíocht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne), the children of Lir (Oidheadh chloinne Lir), the Tain, the pre-Christian Other World and the ideal of sensuality presented as Celtic go hand in hand with Patrick, Columba, the ascetic poets of nature and Brigitte, at the same time mother goddess, saint and model for women of the postmodern era.
Like other contemporary religious forms, Celtic Neo-Christianity is further syncretic and ecumenical. Anchored in the present, John O’Donohue does not hesitate, for example, to suggest an oriental reinterpretation of the Celtic theory of the transmutation of souls by proclaiming: “Your clay selves wandered for thousands of years through the universe”, [14 ] He goes on to establish a parallel between the Buddhist Kalyana Mitra and the Celtic Christian anam chara who, a little lightened from his functions of spiritual guide and confessor, becomes with him the other self of intimate friendship or ‘love. This friend of the soul, central notion of Celtic neo-Christianity is moreover interpreted differently according to the authors, proof if there is any of the rights of the individual on the reinvention of the religious and the conceptual confusion of the movement. , if there really is movement. This Celtic Christianity with a New Age tendency is, in any case, also seen as the precursor of the Reformation and, in a way, in its contemporary form, as the herald of the reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants.
In search of a rhythm that allows the individual to reclaim time, the followers of neo-Christianity finally celebrate the circular perception of time bequeathed by the pagan Celts, then Christians.
The year is a circle. There is the winter season which gives way to the spring; then summer grows out of spring until, finally, the year completes itself in the Autumn. The circle of time is never broken. This rhythm is even mirrored in the day ; it too is a circle. First the new dawn comes out of the darkness, strengthening towards noon, falling away towards evening until night returns again. Because we live in time, the life of each person is also a circle. We come out of the unknown. We appear on the earth, live here, feed off the earth and eventually return back into the unknown again.
In Celtic times, the cycle of the feast and its reassuring repetition inscribed man in a form of eternity which structured his life by making him participate in the manifestations of the vital energy of Creation. Ray Simpson proposes to revive the lost liturgy of these feasts of yesteryear and the scansion of human life that it induces. As part of the long tradition of updating religious festivals, it thus proposes to bless the earth, the harvests, to celebrate the benefits of fire, to mark, finally, the summer and winter solstices as well as the traditional ones. Christian holidays. To reappropriate time is in a way to apprehend, if not domesticate, eternity. “Time is veiled eternity”, affirms John O’Donohue;  because in the “great circle of God” everything is one: “God is the greatest circle of all, the largest embrace in the universe which holds visible and invisible, temporal and eternal as one”. , The One, the All, the Absolute is that in which the whole of Creation comes together.
The thought of Celtic neo-Christianity is essentially unary. It refers in fact to the μῦθος—mûthos and not to the λόγος—logos, to the world of revealed knowledge and not to that of knowledge constructed by reason.  She venerates a God who has defined Himself by proclaiming “I am who I am”; this God is incarnated in man with whom he is therefore one. According to John O’Donohue and the theorists of the Celtic-Christian revival, God is clearly very close to his creature who can find the divine in himself: “The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit”, one reads; “The face always reveals the soul; it is where the divinity of the inner life finds an echo and image”, we find elsewhere; “If we believe that the body is in the soul and the soul is divine ground, then the presence of the divine is completely here, close with us”. 
John O’Donohue bases his certainty on a great mystical thought of medieval Christianity, that of Meister Eckhart, condemned in 1329 for twenty-eight of his theses, deemed heretical or “unhealthy, reckless and suspected of heresy”.  Presenting the theory of mystical union with an exacerbated interpretation which deifies the human soul, considered in a union so intimate with God that it is no longer distinguishable from its creator, Meister Eckhart, also suspected of pantheism, is rejected from Catholic thought to be rehabilitated only very late, in the nineteenth century, mainly by Protestant thought. “You are a child of Divine Longing,” concludes John O’Donohue; “In your deepest nature you are one with your God”. As Meister Eckhart says so beautifully: “The eye with which I see God is God’s eye seeing me”.  In the same vein, it is elsewhere Pelagius, also condemned for heresy, that we are trying to rehabilitate. Now Pelagius, too, postulates, in a certain way, the capacity of man to unite with God while remaining totally free of his choices, in particular in his relationship to the Creator and in his attitude towards God. good and bad. In both cases transcendence and immanence come together, as they come together in postmodern personal religions in general and in Celtic neo-Christianity in particular.
This unary thought is also Trinitarian. God is threefold and one at the same time. Man, God and the co-presence of God with man form another oneness trinity, as do the individual, his Anam Chara and Christ who unites them in love. The Holy Trinity, which echoes, among specialists in Celtic civilisation, the triads of Celtic gods, is an essential anchor of Celtic neo-Christianity. This vision of the world which, according to Nietzsche, locked up man like a serpent was the one that the 19th century of the victory of modernity condemned to death. God is dead, proclaimed the philosopher, and the time had come to break the rings of the serpent to finally live his humanity fully. A century later, the disenchanted of the modern world fear that the death of God will cost the life of his creature and try to restore a ternary in a world where the binary triumphs at the expense of the human being. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that postmodern Celtic Christianity unequivocally condemns binary thinking. “We should avoid this false dualism which separates the soul from the body,” writes John O’Donohue. There is no distinction between body and soul, but neither is there any distinction between life and death, which form only a circular ternary unity. This hostility to binary thought deserves, in the context that concerns us, that we dwell on it for a moment. To oppose this form of approach to the world amounts to opposing the whole of modernity founded on binary reason, the fruit of a two-thousand-five-hundred-year-old debate between the upholders of revealed knowledge and the defenders of knowledge constructed by reason.
According to Robert Dany Dufour, “the history of the West is the history of the competition between the order of Two and the order of Three”.  The Two, served by “increasingly operational forms (…): dualism, dialectics, causality, binarity”  gradually defeated the Three by encompassing it. The Church has actively participated in this history from St Augustine who, at the end of the fourth and beginning of the fifth centuries, notably raised the question of the relationship of reason to the mysteries of faith. With St. Thomas, in the thirteenth century, the mystery of the Holy Trinity, revealed Truth par excellence, was integrated into a knowledge constructed by binary reason. In the words of Dufour, “Thomist scholasticism thus corresponds to the passage from an ancient science of the subject and of the social bond, unary and Trinitarian, to a modern binary intelligibility and useful to the world”. 
In order to rediscover the social bond, pagan neo-Christianity is now giving back its letters of nobility to the ancient conception. According to its theoreticians, the Mystery cannot, by definition, in any case be gripped by rationality, hence the accusations indirectly addressed to the Christian Churches of having misunderstood the message of God. For them, it is imperative to take the abandoned path to find the meaning of true faith, that of a time when binarity did not blind the believer and did not divert him from the sacred in the complexity and simplicity all at the same time. times of its revelation.
The question which then arises is that of the reality of the affirmed rupture. According to Eamonn Conway, it is no more and no less about reinventing, using hazy syncretic theories, an effective way of dealing with the problems of postmodern ill-being:
The problem with much of contemporary spirituality is (the following): it supports rather than challenges our post-modern lifestyles. It does not necessarily call any of our values or attitudes into question. It cannot, because this kind of spirituality is itself the product of a directionless post-modernity and thus can only be à coping mechanism for survival within it. .
There is no doubt that such forms of religiosity constitute a pastoral challenge for the Catholic Church or the Christian Churches. That it is taken seriously by the competent authorities seems no less certain. Thus Ray Simpson dedicates his work Celtic Worship through the Year to George Carey, Archbishop of Canterbury “because of his willingness from the chair of the Roman Augustine to take seriously the worship needs of the emerging grass roots culture”.  All over the world, the Catholic Church is also watching with the greatest vigilance the progress of new religious movements, as demonstrated by the numerous declarations, publications and surveys devoted to them since the mid-1980s.
Typical of this literature, Le Nouvel Age en Question, an account of a research carried out by the Centre d’information sur les nouvelles religions—Information Center on New Religions (CINR) [27b] at the instigation of the Assembly of Bishops of Quebec is perfectly clear in its conclusions: “It is urgent that the Church adjust to the structures of credibility of the current sensibility (…). The Church must stop giving the impression of possessing the truth and accept to be humbly possessed by it “.  Perfectly in keeping with Pope Gregory writing to Augustine and his Kent missionaries at the end of the 5th century, CINR suggests that the Church adapt in order to survive. This, after all, is what the Church has always done and continues to do. Where beliefs are not incompatible, we must forget all dogmatism. Taking the example of the God within, the authors of the report thus point out that “New Age theories can help the Christian to clarify his faith in God. In these theories, the demarcation is not clear between the human, the divine, the “inner God” and God (…)”. Although by insisting on the fact that there is never, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, a fusional union between the human and the divine, “Pastoral care could insist more on the fact that in the Christian regime, the ‘man and God are, in a certain sense, one.’  Syncretism is also not at all shocking in the eyes of Center researchers, who note with interest that “some American Carmelite convents have introduced Zen meditation and Tai-Chi into their daily schedule.” 
Confronted with a Celtic neo-Christianity inspired by a rebellious, anti-Roman island current of the early Middle Ages, and New Age theories of the postmodern era, some, within the Irish Catholic Church, do not remain insensitive to the arguments of those who advocate adaptation. Thus John O’Riordain, CSSR, he published, in 1998, a work which aims to reconcile the two traditions: Irish Catholic Spirituality, Celtic and Roman, revised version of a study published more than twenty years ago under another title. Regretting, like the Church in general, of having lost contact with the popular faith, he expressed his wish to start on a new basis. “I became aware (…) of howlI had been so much part of an institution which had distanced itself from the living popular superstition”, [3l] he indeed declares. “Much of (the) adolescent ‘post-Catholic’ floundering is a reaction to the excessive institutionnalisation from which the Irish Church, and the Church at large, is now emerging”,  he adds further. According to him, however, the Catholic identity is too deeply rooted in Ireland to disappear. And he concludes: “There is a Zen saying which runs: When my house burned down, I got an unobstructed view of the moon at night”;  the mutation is already engaged.Continue reading “Another way: approaching neo-Celtic Christianity.”
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