Celtic Spirituality.

File:St Monans Parish Church.jpg

Celtic saints are very popular. Today is the Feast of St Monan. He is a (probably) legendary figure about whom bog all is known. He may have lived in the 6th to 7th centuries. The only life we have of Monan comes from good Bishop Elphinstone’s 16th century Aberdeen Breviary.  It claims that Monan was a companion of St Adrian and was with him on May Island when he was martyred. He then went to Inverey in Fife and built a chapel. The chapel was rebuilt by the King in the 14th century after he recovered from war wounds thanks to the intercession of St Monan. Today Inverey is known as St Monans.

I find the fascination with historically dubious characters in some streams of spirituality uncongenial.  After all, Christianity was earthed in a real live human being in a specific time and place.  It’s essentially Incarnational and historical, not about made up or imagined “holy” men or women.  There can be an escapist element in a fetish for saints who may not have existed.  We can make their sanctity in our own image.  They are mirrors on to which we project our longings to escape the Church we live with and don’t like in part.  Too much of what we call “celtic spirituality” is made up and fantasist IMHO.

And yet… we need imagination  if our spirit is to thrive.  We need to be able to imagine what the holy ones are like and what they felt if they are to give a real sense of being part of the Communion of Saints.  Just keep it grounded in their penitence and simplicity and their echoing of the Desert in their lives.

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