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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Known and Read by Some

Hopefully, more.

I journeyed among you, and everywhere, for your sake, often in danger, even to the uttermost parts beyond which there is nothing, places where no one had ever arrived to baptize or to ordain clergy or to confirm the people. By the Lord’s grace, I achieved all these results, conscientiously and gladly for your salvation.

  - Patrick, Confession, Irish, 5th century

Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all…

  - 2 Corinthians 3.1, 2

I am sometimes challenged about my interest in Celtic Christianity and the period of the Celtic Revival (ca. 430-800 AD), and my belief that we have much to learn from the scanty records left by this courageous and faithful people.

“After all,” someone will say, “name one great Celtic theologian. Or describe one work from that period that has benefited the whole Church. Or show me one great person whose achievements – whatever they may have truly been – aren’t shrouded in a lot of myth and fable.”

No, this was not a period known for theological advance. Yet Celtic Christians were sufficiently orthodox, and they pursued the work of scholarship as diligently as theologians of any era.

Yes, they delighted in fantasy, hyperbole, and myth-making; and they made use of such devices in telling the story of the faith. So did C. S. Lewis, John Bunyan, J. R. R. Tolkien, and many more.

That Celtic Christians accomplished much, and have left a legacy for the whole Church, which today is largely neglected or unknown, is part of what motivates our work at The Fellowship of Ailbe. We want to bring this period and its lessons to bear on our lives of seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God.

The facts speak for themselves. At a time when the light of learning and the fires of piety were going out all over Europe, God brought forth, from a remote pagan land, a revival such as had not been seen since the first and second centuries of the Christian movement.

He raised up men of renown – Patrick, Erc, Finnian, Colum Cille, Coemgen, Brendan, Columbanus, Comghall, Aidan, and thousands more – who risked their lives to bring the Gospel to heathen peoples, encourage revival among moribund churches, and train their successors for evangelical fervor.

No, there aren’t many written records from this period. But hundreds of monastic ruins, thousands of archaeological and cultural records, and just enough written testimony remain, to convince us that God did a significant work during this period.

Celtic Christians are an epistle of God to the Church in our day, known and read by some. The neglect of these great heroes of the faith is a stain on the contemporary Church. The results they achieved speak for themselves: All over Europe churches experienced revival and renewal, new forms of Christian culture came into being, ancient learning was preserved and passed on, multitudes came to faith in Jesus Christ, and thousands were ordained to ministries that, in many cases, ended up costing them their lives.

No, theirs are not household names – like the Fathers of the Church or the Reformers, or even the slick-haired televangelists and skinny-jeaned megachurch preachers of our day. But without them, friends, we might not have the Gospel today.

Give thanks for our Celtic Christian forebears. Ask the Lord, “What can I learn from these courageous and godly saints, to enhance my own walk with and work for the Lord?” Take to heart their insights, sayings, and experiences; cherish and learn from those great saints of God whose bodies rest in the earth, but whose spirits rejoice around the heavenly throne (Ps. 16.3; Heb. 12.1).

We are the heirs and beneficiaries of a great but unknown and unread legacy. From these faithful forebears we have much to learn about realizing more of the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom. We will continue to examine their thoughts and work. May we be faithful in learning from them as much as we can.

For Reflection
1. What could you do to better acquaint yourself with the records and people of this period?

2. How might you benefit from learning more about the Celtic Revival?

Psalm 33.18-22 (Truro: Shout, for the Blessed Jesus Reigns)
God watches those who fear His Name, who hope upon His grace and love;
He keeps their souls from death and shame, who trust in Him Who reigns above.

God is our Helper and our Shield; upon us let Your grace descend!
We hope in You, to You we yield; we trust in Jesus to the end.

I do thank You, Lord, for every faithful witness and servant from all the generations. Help me to learn from them, so that I…

Readings from the Celtic Revival

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to learn more about the Celtic Revival by watching the brief videos of readings from that period. The first in this new series is on holiness, and you can watch it by clicking here. To learn more about this period and why it matters, order a free copy of our book, The Legacy of Patrick (click here).

Thank you
Thanks so much to those of you who faithfully support the work of The Fellowship of Ailbe. God uses your gifts and prayers to reach thousands of people every day in over 160 countries. We praise the Lord for His having moved and enabled you to share with us in this ministry.

If you’re not a supporter of this ministry, won’t you please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe? Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.

T. M. Moore, Principal
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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