Light Up: A Message From the Society of St Columba

Today is the first Sunday of the month when we share guest posts from people living and teaching the Contemplative and/or Celtic Christian way around the world. One of the beautiful things about the internet is that people doing amazing things in isolated parts of the world can learn from one another and grow together. We hope this article inspires you to dive a little deeper into what it means to follow in the footsteps of our ancestors while looking forward to what kind of world we will leave for our grandchildren. 

The Society of St Columba is a new monastic community based at Chanctonbury in West Sussex. Located at the end of a road that goes nowhere, under the shadow of the historic Chanctonbury Ring, the community seeks to outwork its calling in Christ through seven simple steps. Prayer, work, reading, silence, sabbath, pilgrimage, and place.

Celtic Christianity is about living our daily lives in the obscurity of God’s love in service to others and all of creation.

David is one of the founding members of the Society St Columba and a member of the Coptic Church here in Britain. He is also an artist, painter and a brick layer by profession. It is this standing on the building sites of Sussex that enables a genuine reflection on life and the heart of spiritual growth in Christ.

This is David with his sheep


Here is a message from David:

In His Book “The Orthodox Church” Kallistos Ware recounts a story about a wealthy Russian family who are about to eat one winters evening when there is a knock at the door. The servant is sent off to answer it, upon returning he announces “It’s Christ at the door sir,” at which they all rise and the Father goes off to fetch him. Returning with a homeless tramp, who is seated at the head of the table.

It is easy to forget that we are all made in God’s image and that the face of Christ is in a very real sense that of the person we pass in the street. There are no nameless strangers to God, every individual one of us is one of God’s Children with a capital C, we know this from the Gospels. We are told that if we want to become something special we need to become ordinary, if we would be first we must put ourselves last.

In any form of covenanted discipleship this is a good guard against the wrong thinking that sets itself above ordinary folk. The more we enter into a devotional life of service/contemplation the more we need to watch for the very subtle spiritual pride that is caustic to our souls.

St Theresa of Lisieux says in Journey of the Soul; ‘If you can’t do great things then do little things in peace’. This is the little way, turning the small things into a work dedicated to God. It goes a bit like this…

Today I didn’t walk the way to Compostela that I would have, I walked the stairs, as I did so I prayed for John. I swept the kitchen floor while I prayed for next door. In this way we, little by little, become lights lit for Christ, leaving the great works to those who are humble enough not to be damaged by their doing.

Our great work is sitting at the feet of Christ. And for that we need to be small enough to recognise what it is enables the sitting. This is the real work, becoming a monastic from the inside out.

The Route to Compostela

Pilgrim, what did your journeying this day?
I held my aunt a while in prayer
I prayed the Lord’s Prayer on the bus
I pondered the Christ child by the school
I lit a candle as Brenda’s ill
I pray for Grandma long dead still.

Your way, it is the little route
These inner steps along this day
Are steps along the royal way
And those you carried in your prayers
They held still others up in their’s

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