“And three Scots came to King Alfred in a boat without any oars from Ireland; whence they stole away, because they would live in a state of pilgrimage, for the love of God, they recked not where.” (The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle)
“God counseled Abraham to leave his own country and go in pilgrimage to the land which God had shown him, to wit the ‘Land of Promise.” Now the good counsel which God enjoined here the father of the faithful is incumbent on all the faithful; that is to leave their country and their land, their wealth and their worldly delight for the sake of the Lord of the Elements, and go in perfect pilgrimage in imitation of Him.” (Columba).
What is known to the pilgrim is that it will involve travel – sometimes rigorous travel – and that it will come at some sacrifice of time, money, pride, status, and, most importantly, security – emotional, spiritual and/or financial.
“The path I walk, Christ walks it.May the land in which I am be without sorrow.May the Trinity protect me whenever I say, ‘Father, Son and Holy Spirit’.Bright angels walk with me – dear presence – in every dealing.In every dealing I pray them that no one’s poison may reach me.The ninefold people of heave of holy cloud, the tenth force of the stout earth.Favourable company, they come with me, so that the Lord may not be angry with me.May I arrive at every place, may I return home; may the way in which I spend be a way without loss.May every path before me be smooth, man, woman and child welcome me.A truly good journey! Well does the fair Lord how us a course, a path.
I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through the belief in the threeness,Through confession of the onenessOf the Creator of Creation.I arise today through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism,Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascensionThrough the strength of his descent for the judgment of doom.Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,Christ on my right, Christ on my left,Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,Christ in every eye that sees me,Christ in every ear that hears me.I arise todayThrough a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,Through belief in the threeness,Through confession of the oneness,Of the Creator of Creation.
They are active prayers for protection, for strength, for remembrance, so that one’s whole entire being is centered in God and Christ Jesus in everything one does.
Pilgrimage, she said, is in fact, the essence of Celtic prayer. It's about using your body and all your senses and your mind in an act of sacrificial dedication to following the Holy Spirit into a deeper understanding of your self and all of creation so that you might be in deeper relationship with God, the Creator of All of Creation.
One of the folks here on Iona told me that it is not an overstatement to claim that you can not really know Celtic prayer or plumb the depths of the Art of Contemplative Pray without going on Pilgrimage.
It makes me feel more connected to my grandmother who “stole away” from Portugal, not certain of where she was going or what would happen after she arrived.
We will not offer to God,offerings that cost us nothing.O Christ, the Master Carpenter,you, at the last, through wood and nails,crafted our whole salvation.Wield well your tools,in the workshop of your world,so that we who come rough-hewn to your benchmay here be fashionedto a truer beauty of your hand.Amen.