A Psalm of St. Columba

16 June 08 | Posted in Arts and Letters, Saints, Spirituality

Celtic Christians valued the natural environment for its own sake. They valued times of quiet in solitary and often wild places, where they could read Scripture, meditate and pray.

Because they lived close to the natural environment, it is not surprising that Celtic Christians discovered the immanence of God. Their poetry often echoes those Psalms which speak of God in nature (Ps. 19, 89, 98) suggesting a similar spiritual process at work.

The following extract of a poem in the Celtic psaltery is attributed to St. Columba in Iona:

“Delightful it is to stand on the peak of a rock, in the bosom of the isle, gazing on the face of the sea.

I hear the heaving waves chanting a tune to God in heaven; I see their glittering surf.

I see the golden beaches, their sands sparkling; I hear the joyous shrieks of the swooping gulls.

I hear the waves breaking, crashing on the rocks, like thunder in heaven. I see the mighty whales…

Contrition fills my heart as I hear the sea; it chants my sins, sins too numerous to confess.

Let me bless almighty God, whose power extends over the sea and land, whose angels watch over all.

Let me study sacred books to calm my soul; I pray for peace, kneeling at heaven’s gates.

Let me do my daily work, gathering seaweed, catching fish, giving food to the poor.”


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