So still, my brethren, give ear to our words, in the belief that you will hear something needful, and refresh the thirst of your mind from the streams of the divine fountain of which we now wish to speak...
- Columbanus, Sermon XIII, Irish, 7th century
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God,
The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
- Psalm 46.4
For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.
- Philemon 1.7
The Fellowship of Ailbe is a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. But what does that mean? And why is it so important to us?
The Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD), though little known among Christians today, offers much in the way of instruction and encouragement; and part of our burden at The Fellowship is to dip into that tradition in order to refresh the minds and lives of Christ’s people today.
What is it about this period that we find so worthwhile?
Many things, among them the spiritual strength and courage of the leadership, their devotion to the Word of God and sound learning, their disciplined approach to all of life, their commitment to Biblically-informed culture, their love for creation, and their zeal for holiness and mission.
The period of Celtic Christianity is terra incognita for most Christians, an unknown stream feeding into the long river of Christian history and heritage. Perhaps the best popular summary of the importance of this period is the book by Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization. The title says it all. We who drink often from this stream hope to lead others to find refreshment there as well. For the sweet wells of Celtic Christianity tap into the deep currents of God’s river of grace.
The river of God’s grace and Spirit that flows through the corridors of history is comprised of many streams, all tributaries to the grand tradition of Christian orthodoxy. It was the genius of the Protestant reformers of the 16th century to insist that all doctrinal claims be proven from Scripture and shown to agree with the writings of the Church Fathers. They understood the importance of looking to all the tributaries of the Spirit for the insight and strength He might offer there.
But the reformers were completely unaware of the Celtic Christian movement. I can’t think of a single reference in their works, before Eriugena (9th century), or any awareness on the part of the early reformers, of any of the Celtic saints or their contribution to the progress of the Kingdom. How might their efforts have been tempered and improved if they had been able to drink from that well of civilization-changing power?
I’m certain that, had Luther, Calvin, Bucer, Knox, and the rest had access to the writings that have come to light in the past 200 years or so, they would have delighted in and benefited greatly from this ancient stream, and found it more compatible with their views than not.
We at The Fellowship of Ailbe are like those volunteers who stand along the course of a long-distance race, offering cups of water to those who run past. As you run your race in the Lord (Heb. 12.1, 2), we offer you refreshment for your soul from this ancient and somewhat unfamiliar stream. Our mission is to point the way to a life of renewed vision, revitalized disciplines, and increasing love for God and neighbors. We have found this ancient stream of Celtic Christianity to be a reliable source of refreshment for such a journey, and we hope you will find it so as well.
Our prayer for you echoes the words of Columbanus, that you might give ear to our words, in the belief that you will hear something needful, and refresh the thirst of your mind from the streams of the divine fountain of which we now wish to speak.
The ancient streams of the faith hold much to nourish our faith today. We hope you are refreshed in your soul as you drink from this one.
1. How can you tell when your soul is being refreshed? Where do you turn for such refreshment?
2. Why should we expect to be able to learn much from the period of the Celtic Revival?
Psalm 78.1-7 (Foundation: How Firm a Foundation)
Give ear, O my people, attend to my word, dark sayings and parables sent from the Lord,
Things we have before by our fathers been told, which we would not dare from our children withhold.
The glorious deeds of our God in His might, and all of the works He has done in our sight,
Together with all of the words of His Law, would we on ourselves and our children bestow.
Lord, let all our children arise and declare the truth of the Lord every day everywhere,
And set all their hopes in God’s wonderful Word, and never forget all the works of the Lord.
Thank You, Lord, for this vast, rich, refreshing, and ever-flowing stream of Your Spirit and grace! Refresh me in it day by day, so that…
We welcome your comments and reports
As you pray…
Would you prayerfully consider helping The Fellowship? Take a few minutes today and ask the Lord whether He would have you share with us regarding the financial needs of this ministry. God supplies all our needs, and He does so through friends who share our vision and benefit from our ministry. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT, 05495.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Walker, p. 117.