First, Christine Sine is awesome. Second, what she writes here about “Celtic Christians and Community” is awesome as well.
Celtic Christianity thrived in the fifth to eleventh centuries. Its primary focus for worship, pastoral care and religious instruction was the monastery- not the parish church. This strongly monastic character produced a model of ministry that was communitarian rather than individualistic. “Ministry in all aspects, liturgical, pastoral, evangelistic, educational was not the solitary individualistic task it so often is today. It was rather undertaken by teams of men and women, ordained and lay, who lived together in community and operated from a common central base from which they went out among the people preaching, teaching, baptizing, administering the sacraments, caring for the sick and burying the dead.”
These monasteries were not just places for people to withdraw for prayer and contemplation. They were often at the crossroads of society, open to a constant stream of visitors, pilgrims and penitents. They were intimately involved in the affairs of the world and the lives of the people they served. The monks were not just concerned with the spiritual well-being of the communities they served, but also with their intellectual and physical well-being. They were also, in many ways, the keepers of culture and tradition, not just copying the Psalms and Gospels but also writing down stories, songs, and poems and preserving myths and legends for posterity.
In today’s increasingly disconnected world, imagine the depth that would come from churches again that were grounded in such a communitarian approach to faith and daily life.
The whole post is entitled “Three Ancient Aspects of Celtic Spirituality for Today’s Missional Church.”