Perhaps some of you, like me, have been intrigued by the ads from various companies offering to test our DNA so that we can learn about our ethnic heritage. I confess that I was intrigued enough to order a test! As I awaited the results, I began to wonder what they might be. I was certain that at least some Native American heritage would show up; I was hoping it would. And through other’s genealogical research I knew that my father’s maternal line hailed from England. Imagine my surprise when I received the results and learned that I’m 47% Irish! (That would explain my love of Celtic Christian spirituality.) I’m also 27% Western European, and 16% British, with a smidgeon of Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia thrown into the mix.

I’m enjoying the exploration of all these ethnic heritages. My imagination has run wild. What clan did my Irish ancestors hail from.  Was my great, great, great, great, etc. grandfather a Viking? Might my British ancestry trace back to the English throne?

While I’ve been on this ancestral adventure, I’ve been wondering about the spiritual lives of my forefathers and foremothers. I like to imagine that somewhere along the way one or more of my ancestors was introduced to the Christian faith and claimed it for themselves, and their faithfulness has had some part in my own claim to the Christian faith.  With that in mind, my choice of Lenten discipline arose out of my newly claimed Irish ancestry. For the forty days of Lent, I’ve chosen to begin and end each day with the following prayers written by J. Philip Newell in his book, Celtic Benediction—Morning and Night Prayer. Perhaps they will be helpful for your Lenten journey too.

Morning Prayer—

For the first showings of the morning light

and the emerging outline of the day

thanks be to You, O God.

For earth’s colors drawn forth by the sun

its brilliance piercing clouds of darkness

and shimmering through leaves

and flowing waters

Thanks be to You.


Show to me this day

amidst life’s dark streaks of wrong and suffering

the light that endures in every person.

Dispel the confusions that cling close to my soul

that I may see with eyes washed by Your grace

that I may see myself and all people

with eyes cleansed

by the freshness of the new day’s light.



Night Prayer—

You have given me eyes to see with,

O God,

and ears to hear life’s sounds and sorrows

and yet my seeing and hearing

like my tasting and touching

are wounded and weakened by failures.


As rest can heal the sores of a body

and sleep restores its strength

so may Your angels of grace visit me in the night

that the senses of my soul may be born afresh.

Visit my dreams with messengers of grace, O God,

That the senses of my soul may be born again.


Blessings on your Lenten journey, my friends.