Monday, November 28, 2011

Celtic Advent

Celtic Advent is always Nov. 15-Dec. 24 (Observance begins at Sunset on Nov. 14). The Dates are the same for Eastern Orthodox Advent (Nativity Fast).

For those Christians that observe the Church Seasons, Advent is theChurch Season just before Christmas. In what is referred to as the Western Church (Roman Catholics and Protestants, including Anglicans) observance of Advent Season occurs during the period of the four Sundays before Christmas. The beginning of Western Advent can therefore fall any time between November 27th and December 3rd.

Advent ends on December 24th at sundown, the beginning of Christmas Eve (for Roman Catholics, when December 24 falls on a Sunday, as it did in 2006, the Sunday obligation for Catholics to attend Church still applies, and it is treated as the Fourth Sunday of Advent, and the Vigil of Christmas begins at Evening Prayer I, later that day).

Our English word advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means arrival. In the Latin Vulgate of Jerome, this was the word used to translate the Greek word parousia, which in the New Testament refers to the Second Coming of Christ. So in Advent season we reflect on the two advents, or arrivals of Christ. The Nativity, the birth of Christ, the coming of the Christmas celebration. And also on the Second Coming of Christ, for which, since we do not know when it will be (or the time of the end of our own lives), we should always be ready.

Advent has historically been a time for reflection and prayer. Christ, the Messiah, will be born in Bethlehem, he will save us from our sins. On Christmas day we will celebrate His Nativity, his birth, His First Coming. Christ will come again, to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. Let us use this time of preparation for the celebration of His First Coming to especially prepare our hearts and lives for His Second Coming.

From its origin in the 4th century and on, it was also a time of fasting. The fasting portion was first dropped by the Protestant Churches, and then by the Roman Catholic Church, but is still observed in the Eastern Orthodox Communions.During the time of ancient Celtic Christianity, the entire Church, both Western (including the Celtic Christians), and Eastern (the Orthodox Communions, Oriental Churches, and Eastern Rite Roman Catholics) all celebrated a longer Advent Season as a lesser Lenten fast.

It began on the same date every year on November 15th (Orthodox Churches still observe it as beginning on this day). In the early Church (and going back also through the Old Testament era) and still currently inOrthodox and Roman Catholic practice, every day (liturgical day) officially begins at sundown of the previous date (in this case, sundown on the 14th begins the liturgical observance of the 15th of November).

Observance of Advent appears to have taken place since the 4th Century (300's A.D.) Like Lent, it originally was a season when new Christians studied in preparation for being baptized. In the early Middle AgesAdvent was the Season of preparing oneself for the Second Coming of Christ. It was a season of repentance and dedication to prayer.

Advent seems to have been a result of the observance of the Celticmonks in Gaul, which was taken and combined with a similar three to six-week period of fasting that had been observed in the city of Rome before Christmas (remember, France was still known by the Roman name of "Gaul" in this era, and was still a Celtic country at this time--this was even before St. Patrick converted Ireland---and there were as yet no IrishCeltic monks!).

The Gallic fast (in modern-day northern France) began at sundown after the celebration of the Feast Day (Nov. 11th) of Martin of Tours, a Roman Cavalry officer who became a Christian and founded the first monastery in Gaul (modern-day France).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Coming of Welsh

The construction of Offa's Dyke in the late eighth century was a turning point in Britain's history. It effectively marked out a boundary between the Britons of the west (now Wales) and Germanic tribes of the east (now England) - although there still remained Welsh speakers living to the east of the boundary and English speakers to the west.

Wales, given a geographic expression by the Dyke, was to enjoy a cultural and political autonomy that lasted until the Norman invasions. The word Cymry had been used as early as the seventh century, but it now became popular to describe the Welsh. Derived from the Brittonic word Combrogi, meaning fellow countryman, it is also the origin of the place name Cumbria.

As the Welsh kingdoms developed behind the Dyke, the Welsh language began to assume official status. Whereas previously Latin was the main language of writing, early in the ninth century its alphabet was adapted for the writing of Welsh.

A memorial in Tywyn dated to 810 AD carries an inscription in Early Welsh, barely understandable to a modern Welsh speaker: "Cingen celen tricet nitanam" translates as "The body of Cingen dwells beneath". And glosses in Welsh - that is, written notes in margins - have been found on ninth and 10th century medieval manuscript.

More at

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I have News for you ~ 9th Century Irish

"I have news for you:
The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone
Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course
The sea running high.
Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;
The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,
cold has seized the birds' wings;
season of ice, this is my news."

9th Century Irish Poem

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Every Earthly Blessing ~ Comgall

"Preserve the rule of the Lord;
in this way you will run no risk;
Try not to transgress it
as long as your life lasts.

This is the most important part of the rule;
love Christ; hate wealth;
Devotion to the king of the sun
and kindness to people." 

Comgall 7th Century

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