Holidays are time for gatherings of all kinds and Christmas is particularly special.
This year, among the festive events and Catholic church celebrations, we will be (soon) attending a professional Christmas concert.
Today, in anticipation of attending the "Celtic Women" Christmas concert, tickets shown below, I dusted off the old photo album and selected some to share here.
Just a Note
The "Ireland family trip" photos from 2005 (below) were photographed through the plastic sleeves as I found that the images were stuck fast to the plastic in parts and this explains why these images have a misty-looking glow. Mostly misty, by the way, is an entirely appropriate way to describe much of Irish weather.
The Irish Question
Is it true that after you visit Ireland, you take some of its spirit back with you? I'd like to think so. It’s a place of enchantment for sure- with tales and legends, holy wells and religious pilgrimage sites, mystics and lots of pubs.
Although I am not genetically linked to the Irish (as far as I know), my visits there have left me with a deep impression and I do feel, sometimes, in a nostalgic and happy way, that I am a “Celtic woman”. Update 2017. I completed a DNA genealogy test and surprise, surprise (as my grandma used to say), my Irish ancestry comes in at about 2%.
Climbing Croagh Patrick
The Irish told us that you aren’t really Irish until you make the pilgrimage climb.
This largest mountain is located on the remote side of Ireland near the Aran Islands.
We could only accommodate the one day, "round trip". For the more daring, there’s a longer pilgrimage consisting of several days walking and penitence. That one begins on the Aran Islands or somewhere in its vicinity.
The day we climbed was the only day of sunshine with no rain in over two months. I can’t tell you how fortunate it was to have randomly selected this sun kissed day. There’s nothing like the luck of the Irish!
Ní bhíonn an rath ach mar a mbíonn an smacht:
There is no luck except where there is discipline).
A plaque at the base of the mountain. What is the Book of Lismore?
Prior to ascent, it is the custom to spend time in adoration at the early hermitage church located along the trail (above photo).
The climb up the mountain progresses kindly at first. Hikers pass through the rolling foothills with abundant greenery and sheep herds circulating everywhere.
But eventually everyone, in order to reach the summit, must maneuver the steepest inclines and traverse through the most unwelcome, menacing and shifting rockways.
And... there is no other apparent way- not by car or tram service (maybe helicopter for emergencies). That is why a good walking stick is essential (and they rent them at the base).
When a pilgrim finally arrives at the top, there is an austere church where one can stop to pray, perhaps participate in Holy Mass, have lunch and rest before descending. As you can see from the image below there is nothing much to do at the top. A sign outside the building recommends that the pilgrim circle it ten times in prayer before entering the church (of course we did that).
Just beyond the chapel is "St Patrick’s bed". They say that he slept outside in the cold on this very rock without further "cushioning" or overhead shelter. Everyone gets to try out his bed.
The Gift of the First Christmas
St Patrick, a Christian trail blazer of extraordinary will, considered no discomfort too severe or sacrifice unworthy if it meant that the good news of salvation would spread. Christ was born! Christ has died! Christ is Risen! Christ will come again!
"A new day will dawn on us from above because our God is loving and merciful (Luke 1:78). The peoples of Ireland, who up until his time lived in pagan darkness, began to believe in the one, true God through St Patrick's valiant and determined efforts
Tonight, in a warm and inviting theater, we will listen to holiday music. Selections will include the story of the Christ Child Jesus who, with his family, were left out in the cold with little comfort, not unlike St Patrick, but in a incomparably more profound and lasting way.
Let us invoke St Patrick for more than green beer and lucky charms. Let's pray that through his intercession, new-day pagan hearts and lukewarm Christians might be touched with the warmth of Christ's love. We pray that the glory of God might spread once more, like a glowing flame, through Ireland and beyond.
Irish prayers and more
Dear Lord, Give me a few friends who will love me for what I am, and keep ever burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope... And though I come not within sight of the castle of my dreams, teach me to be thankful for life, and for time's olden memories that are good and sweet. And may the evening's twilight find me gentle still.
Níl aon suáilce gan a duáilce féin.
There are no unmixed
blessings in life.
Is fada an bóthar nach mbíonn casadh ann.
It is a long road that has no turning.
Is gaire cabhair Dé ná an doras.
God's help is nearer than the door.
Nollaig bhreá a dhéanann reilig teann.
A fat Christmas makes for
a tight graveyard.
More Irish Proverbs and Prayers link
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
My website template has been updated. NOTES pages might have font and pictorial placement discrepancies.
All content ©LumenChristiArt.com,
Christine M. (CM) Jentz.
For comments or inquiries please
contact me. Commissions accepted.
“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures.” (St. André Bessette)