HAMBURG — Eileen Charleton received her first book of Irish literature when she was 15 years old. She has been involved with Celtic spirituality ever since.
She is of Irish and Scottish heritage. “The kinds of spirituality that called to me, I knew called to many other people,” she said, adding that she discovered many sides to this spirituality, while researching and practicing.
She has served on mission trips to places such as Venezuela. Through Our Lady of Charity Parish, Charleton put on her first Celtic spirituality retreat in 2012.
Espresso machines’ steamers whirled at the Dog Ears Bookstore & Cafe in South Buffalo where Charleton volunteers her time, helping people find and purchase books. Describing her spirituality, she quoted M. Basil Pennington, a Trappist monk and priest: “When you are so enthused by what you’re practicing, you want to share it with other people.”
“That’s what hits me with myself and Celtic spirituality,” Charleton added.
The “Celtic Spirituality Day of Reflection for Women” will take place from 11 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 1 at Maguire Hall, located at 51 Alamo Place, across from Our Lady of Charity Parish.
Monies raised will go to the Buffalo Peace House, which is located at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Hamburg. That organization provides shelter and assistance to asylum seekers, as they look for permanent residence in the United States. Residents span from the Congo, areas of Africa, to Costa Rica and Burma, to name a few; Charleton explained that, while in residence, individuals’ “lawyers are helping them get proper legal status in the U.S.”
The spirituality day will begin with a Saint Patrick’s Breastplate, a traditional Celtic prayer. Attendees are asked to bring something that connects them to their Celtic spirituality; these items will be placed together as an altar for the day, during the retreat.
“We’ll be talking about the elements of Celtic spirituality. We’ll be talking about some of the aspects of spirituality that connect it to other traditions and religions,” Charleton said. “We’ll be connecting to how it touches our lives today, and how it puts us in touch with those aspects of who we are that is not touched by technology; ways that we can make Celtic spirituality part of our everyday life.”
The retreat will explore Celtic tradition and the significance of ancestors and of prayer. Charleton said that this culture provides blessings for everything, “and we’ve lost so much of that, because of our modern technology. Traditional spiritualities [and] traditional peoples will keep all of these things alive.”
Attendees will also take a video pilgrimage to Kildare, Ireland, the home of Saint Brigid. The day of the event, Feb. 1, also marks the traditional feast of St. Brigid and traditionally marks the beginning of spring. Families will bless their houses on this day and hang the cross of St. Brigid at the entrances, for protection. Those who attend the retreat will learn about the history of that cross and will also make one of their own.
“A lot of [the retreat] is conversation,” Charleton said; she will give attendees historical background and input but, she added, “One of my firm beliefs is, we are all learners and we are all teachers.”
She said that similar elements of Celtic spirituality can be found transcending various practices, such as within Buddhism, Native American spirituality and Wicca. “I try to respect people where they are,” Charleton said, in regard to those who may envelop the concepts of Celtic ideology but are perhaps from a different walk of life.
“There is a great deal in Celtic spirituality about this present moment; living in this present moment,” Charleton said. “Living every moment to the fullest and offering every moment, and everything we do, to God.
“[Spirituality] is something that changes through our lives,” she added. “As you grow ... you grow deeper.”
For more information about the Buffalo Peace House, visit www.buffalopeacehouse.us.
To inquire about registration, email Charleton at firstname.lastname@example.org.