Third period: Where it appears that tertianship sets up a ‘pilgrim attitude’

Monday, the 1st

The Mass celebrating St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, presided by Joe, was a sending forth to Glendalough, introducing us to a ‘pilgrim attitude’ which was to be sought for the following days. And indeed, we reached this wonderful place by car (but Joe stayed at home, and Barnabas dared to reach it by bike!… and of course, Elias was still missing), crossing Dublin and its harbor, going through countryside and mountains of County Wicklow, until we reached a lovely house and spirituality centre. After getting settled in, we first took some photographs and sat down to a quick lunch.  We then had a film at the interpretive centre and a guided tour of the ruins of this ancient monastery. We had two days to discover and enjoy this beautiful place and its rich history through reading, walks, conversations and prayer.

Glendalough was already an important place, even before the arrival of Christianity. It is no wonder this rugged landscape, with its forests and mountains, its lovely valley with two lakes, waterfalls and streams, attracted so many mystics throughout the ages. In the 6th century, the hermit St. Kevin began an ascetic life in this scenic valley, and other monks joined him, creating a community following the spirituality of the desert fathers. They founded a monastery that became a famous pilgrimage site over the centuries, until it declined in the 13th century, when it was eclipsed by new religious orders and the relocation of the diocesan see to Dublin. The monastery was thereafter sacked by English troops. Rather than a monastery as we imagine it (ie: with a single, large building inhabited by consecrated people), this was more of a Christian community inhabited by monks, lay people and families.