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PRIESTS
By: Kip Carroll

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The Celtic Church

     St. Patrick left behind him a band of well-educated, devoted men, who greatly venerated their master and sought to follow in his footsteps. Ireland was unique in being the only western European country to which Christianity came without Roman conquest. The fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the extirpation of Latin institutions in Britain, and the barbarian conquest in France and Italy isolated Ireland even more.

The native Celtic Church and civilization flourished. Celtic Christians brought the gospel to the "barbarians" in Frisian, France, Switzerland etc. who had replaced the order of the Roman empire.

She differed in many ways from the Churches in the west: in doctrine, in church government, in the time of celebrating Easter, celibacy, the form of the tonsure. There were no Archbishops, and bishops were almost as numerous as parishes, the sees often descended from father to son. The clergy were subject to taxation, to secular jurisdiction, to military service; there were no tithes, the clergy were supported by voluntary gifts; the Scriptures were much studied. It has also been asserted, that the Celtic Church was opposed to the Roman Catholic form of confession, the worship of saints, and images, purgatory, transubstantiation and the seven sacraments. She rejected all foreign control - including control from the pope -, and acknowledged Christ only as Head of the Church. She was primarily a monastic Church, without the centralized, geographically ordered network that the Roman Church had inherited from the Roman Empire.

The fame of Ireland for its monasteries, missionary schools, and as the seat of pure Scriptural teaching, rose so high, that it received the name "The Isle of Saints and Scholars." After the synod of Whitby in 664 many Anglo-Saxon nobles and clergy went to Ireland, where they started to live in monasteries or just went to receive good teaching.

The labors of the Irish were not confined to their own country. Naturally fond of traveling, and being energized by a love for souls, many missionaries left Ireland under the leadership of a loved and devoted abbot. Western Europe truly owes a debt to these Irish pioneers of Christianity in the Dark Ages! - IrishChristian.net

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The highest manifestation of life consists in this: that a being governs its own actions. A thing which is always subject to the direction of another is somewhat of a dead thing. - St. Thomas Aquinas

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