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

Within Her Citadels

Celtic Christian monasteries were spiritual forts.

Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King. Within her citadels God has made himself konwn as a fortress.

  - Psalm 48.1

The ancient fortresses of the pagans,/to which title had been gained by long habitation,/are empty and without worship/like the place where Lugaid dwelt.

  - Oengus mac Oengobann, Feilire Oengusso (Irish, 9th century)

The revival of Christian faith which began with Patrick and spread, within two generations, to win virtually the whole of Ireland to Christ was, in its initial phases, a movement based in monasteries.

Churches would come, but only later. Pre-Christian Celtic Ireland did not have any cities - or any civilization, for that matter. The peoples of Ireland affiliated with a local king who lived in the midst of his people in a ring fort, or, a rath. Raths were enclosures within earthen or stone walls which served as the nerve center of an outlying community of loyal tribe members.

In his history of martyrs, Oengus notes that one after another of the "ancient fortresses of the pagans" fell to the preaching of the Gospel: Raith Chruachan became the monastery of Clonmacnoise. The fortress of Ailenn yielded to Brigid's witness. Emain became the monastic community of Glendalough.

Celtic Christians modeled their monasteries after the ring forts of the pagans they won to Christ - stone walls enclosed the religious center of the community, whence monks went out daily to serve the needs of the people they had won or were winning to Christ.

The monasteries were thus spiritual forts, Kingdom outposts from which the power of the Gospel went forth to bring lost pagans to life, hope, civilization, and communities of holiness and love. At the end of Psalm 48 the City of the Lord, the citadel within which God dwells, is presented as the very embodiment of God Himself - the epicenter of all that is joyful, true, beautiful, powerful, righteous, and wise.

Celtic monasteries sought to become such outposts, and they largely succeeded. From within these spiritual citadels God made Himself known by words and deeds to the people in the surrounding countryside. The result, as Oengus reports, was that, "Though it was far-flung and splendid,/paganism has been destroyed:/the kingdom of God the Father/has filled heaven, earth, and sea."

Where are the churches that consider themselves spiritual fortresses for relentless Kingdom advance in these dark days of increasing unbelief? Where are the churches where it is clear God dwells within their citadels, making them the beauty and joy of their communities, the scourge of every lie, and source of wisdom and justice and eternal life for all?

Until our churches recover a new vision for their existence, we will have no revival. Already the impact of Christianity is diminishing in every sector of culture and society. Without revival and renewal, we can only expect more of the same.

Let us seek the Lord for revival, brethren, and work to help our churches become Kingdom outposts in our communities.

T. M. Moore, Principal

Write to me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will send you guidelines for how you can begin a group to pray regularly for revival. You are invited to join us on the third Thursday of every month, at 9:00 pm Eastern, as we gather by webinar to pray for revival. Just send me an email letting me know you'd like to participate, and I'll make sure you get the link for our meeting room. Please join us in encouraging men to take up the work of prayer. Order copies of If Men Will Pray to set out on your church's information table.

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.
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