Reflections and Homilies
A good resource on how to prepare a homily, and examples written/delivered.
An "all around" resource, including Celtic prayers.
Fr. Sean's Reflections
Reflection on Friendship: The Anamchara
by Fr. Sean Anderson+
"Anyone without a soul friend is like a body without a head" - St. Brigit.
What was true for Brigit in fifth century Ireland is all the more true for us in the complex and increasingly cynical world of the twenty-first century.
The more common usage in American English as "Soul Mate", where it has been taken as "one's true love." The original meaning for the ancient Celtic peoples typically was Soul Friend", and had nothing to do with romantic relationships, although sometimes that may have or did also occur. Whether or not you and/or a soul friend
are religious matters not, as we are all tied to all of creation. The anamchara is a stronger and deeper level of friendship, commitment, and mentoring, which defies titles and denominations and belief systems.
The anamchara role is one of the most beautiful spiritual practices of the Celtic Christian tradition. One which I believe assists in part, of lightening the
burden of the spiritual journey we all undertake, as well as the rigors of life in general. Life can be tough, scary, and sometimes lonely. We all need someone to share the hardships, thoughts, feelings and insights of this rock we ride upon.
In today's society, specifically Western and American culture, where we are taught to be self-reliant, a “one wo/man show”, that the only way to get anywhere in life is to do it yourself. But we can’t. To invoke the famous quote “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.” This statement is somewhat true, in a couple different ways. First and most basic, is that one person can’t do it all, teamwork will get the job done rightly. But humans have an intrinsic need for others, for companionship or work. We're pre-wired for it, and the anamchara fulfills and strengthens this need. Several hagiographies of the Irish Saints (Brigit, Ita, Patrick, and Cieran) illustrate these needs. In a more modern setting, I found this exemplified by the relationship of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Throughout the series, their dynamic relationship is very deep and intense, and have to rely upon each other for survival, physically and spiritually. No wonder they saved the world from eternal darkness!
Were one to reflect upon what an anamchara is, and their importance upon “getting through it”, I would say it is vital for everyone to experience having one or more. For our deepening inner conversion, to being closer to our fellow humans and all of creation. Thusly, being closer to Christ. Having an anamchara can help us nurture a love of the divine, within and without.
A Friendship Blessing
May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them; may they bring you all the blessings,
challenges, truth and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated, but may you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with you
- from John O’Donoghue’s Anam-chara; Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World.