We are a group of friends drawn together by a shared love of the Christian traditions of the Irish Saints, especially during the golden age of Irish monasticism and manifest in modern day Catholic Ireland, Scotland, America and elsewhere. The monastic tradition in Ireland generated a dynamic Catholic and sacramental spirituality that speaks to the contemplative and communal side of human nature. As in other spiritual ways, it is deeply rooted in the example of the Catholic Saints.
The spirituality is Trinitarian with a locus on the indwelling Trinity as a movement of Love. Out of this Love has sprung a rich heritage of hospitality that has been handed down through the generations to the modern day. Oigedchaire is the ancient Irish word for hospitality, which means "guest-loving." For the Christian, the guest is always Christ. It is Christ's presence in our prayer, daily encounters, and hospitality that defines our Christian friendship.
The lives of the Irish saints from Saint Patrick to the modern day, especially during the golden age of Celtic Catholic monasticism, have inspired many with their apostolic zeal and simple ascetic life. The description of the virtues of the Irish saints by Msgr. Barr in his book "The Shadow of the Cross" was the inspiration for Oigedchaire. In this book Msgr. Barr describes the lives of the Irish saints with stories and descriptions that relate to Christian virtue. Each chapter title references a particular virtue.
The virtue of hospitality is central for Oigedchaire and is a simple concrete way to live the Christian life in one's every day activities. To our benefit, Msgr. Barr has created a rule, which is comprised of a list of the Eight Rules of Celtic Catholic Spirituality. Here are the titles for each rule:
"Rule One: Life Is A Journey And We Are All Pilgrims On The Way."
"Rule Two: The Physical And Spiritual Make Up the Real World; Therefore, Our Prayer Life is Our whole Life."
"Rule Three: Reverence Creation And Her Creatures, For They Are Windows To God."
"Rule Four: The Door To God Can Only Be Opened by Self-Sacrifice."
"Rule Five: Love The Cross Of Christ By Which We Are Redeemed."
"Rule Six: Have A Deep Knowledge Of And A Reverance For The Embracing Love Of Mary, The Angels, And The Saints."
"Rule Seven: Love The Mass and Eucharist; Pray The Scriptures; Celebrate The Sacrament Of Penance Frequently; Seek Out A Soul Friend."
"Rule Eight: Use The Lorica."
These rules give definition to the world view embraced by the great Irish saints in a way that enables us to follow their example. There is much substance in the lives of the Irish saints and the Celtic people that can be drawn upon. For example, throughout the day we can make resort to the many prayers and beautiful poetry that have been passed down through generations.
One of the blessings that comes from the emphasis on hospitality is the development of a friendship and spirituality that places Christian life in the heart of the family. On Christmas eve we may light a candle to welcome the Holy Family, but every day we seek to imitate the virtues of the Holy Family, their poverty and simplicity, faithfulness and charity by living a spirit of hospitality. We can demonstrate our Love for the Holy Family by welcoming people into our home and tending to the needs of our neighbors and in particular the poor.
It is fruitful to look to the writings of St. Patrick and the stories and writings of the saints to help focus our spiritual life. The following paragraphs explore one way the rules can be put into action following the example of a saint.