What did the monks on Skellig Michael do all day (and how did they survive)?

Over a thousand years ago there lived a group of hermit-monks on an island off the coast of Ireland. They were almost entirely cut off from the world and were (voluntarily) stranded on an island that was relatively small and treacherous to live on.

Remarkably the community inhabited the island of Skellig Michael for over six hundred years. The big question that everyone wants to know is this: what did they do there and how did they survive?

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Why Irish monks chose such a cold, harsh and distant place for a monastery

Along with a desire to go into the desert and contemplate God, the monks of Ireland held on to the concept of a “green martyrdom.”

The Catholic Church has always taught about the possibility of a “red martyrdom,” where one imitates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross by dying for the sake of the Gospel. Later on there was the belief that if a person wasn’t called to a red martyrdom, they could participate in the same sacrifice with a “white martyrdom,” where someone might endure ridicule for belief in the Gospel, but not suffer death.

Early on, especially in Ireland, there developed a third martyrdom called, “green martyrdom.” An ancient homily in Ireland, written around the end of the seventh century, gives a perfect summary of this type of martyrdom.

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Should we save the past or “Kill it if you have to”?

A recurring theme throughout The Last Jedi can be summed up in a line from Kylo Ren. He says to Rey, “Let the past die. Kill it if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you were meant to be.”

For Kylo, this means destroying everything and starting over from scratch. He has no particular attachment to the First Order or the Resistance and believes both could be annihilated to start something new.

This same theme is also connected to the Jedi Order. In Luke Skywalker’s escape from the world, he too comes to the realization that it would be better if he died, thus ending the Jedi and (possibly) bringing peace to the galaxy. Even Yoda appears and helps Luke destroy ancient Jedi texts to sever ties with the past (*Update: Rey is seen at the end of the movie placing the ancient Jedi texts on the Millenium Falcon, preserving them for the future).

Is this good? Should we put this into practice in our own lives?

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The surprising spiritual parallels found in ‘The Last Jedi’

The Last Jedi has proven to be a controversial movie on a number of levels. Among Star Wars fans it is a point of division and departs from particular theories that have been debated over and over again. What’s interesting is how much of the philosophical underpinnings of The Last Jedi resonate with a similar historical event that radically changed the world and departed from theories that were fiercely debated over for centuries.

The movie, whether it was intended or not, offers a striking parallel to what happened over 2,000 years ago in the backwater town of Bethlehem. There, in a quiet manager scene, a little boy was born who would open the floodgates of something new that the world had never seen before.

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Why medieval monks founded an isolated monastery on Skellig Michael

During the sixth century a small band of medieval monks travelled in a small boat seven miles off the coast of Ireland to a destination that fulfilled their deepest longings. It was a risky venture, one that cut them off from the world and took them to the edge of the known world.

Why did they do it?

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How the wandering monks of Ireland created a thriving Christian culture

In Ireland and beyond...

While Europe was in chaos during the sixth century, the monks in Ireland were busy preserving Christian faith and culture through art, literature and education.

One of the most influential figures of the time was St. Finnian, who lived between 470–549. It is believed that he studied at one of St. Martin of Tour’s monasteries in Gaul before returning to Ireland to establish his own foundations.

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Need to root out deadly sin in your life? This manual is for you

Living in a fallen world, we all commit various sins on a regular basis. While many times these sins are minor in nature, frequently we are tempted to commit serious sin that greatly damages our relationship with God.

It isn’t easy to overcome these sins and conquering them often feels like a monumental task. The good news is that Fr. Dennis Kolinski has recently provided an excellent Manual for Conquering Deadly Sin that digs deep into the treasury of Christian wisdom to provide a pathway to virtue.

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