Celtic Thought For The Day #21: O Is For Otium Sanctum


I love words, and two of my favourite words are otium sanctum, much used by the Church Fathers. They are Latin words meaning ‘holy leisure’. That appeals to me.

The term embodies a wonderful concept, and one that I put into practice as I meandered through Clackitt’s Wood earlier this afternoon, and ‘communed’; and it was the main reason why this post is rather late. It seemed odd to cut short my ‘otium sanctuming’ to write about it. Mea culpa.

Otium Sanctum has various meanings, including leisure time in which a person can enjoy eating, playing, reading, playing the bagpipes, writing a soon-to-be-a-best-seller novel and getting pleasure in researching it, golf, taking lessons in playing the bodhrán (pronounced bow-rahn) as I’m doing, playing golf, generally resting and taking it easy, contemplation and academic endeavours etc. It sometimes, but not always, relates to a time in a person’s retirement.

It also refers to a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves. Oh, how we all need that.

Some, down the ages, cautioned again idleness, and that is a concern if one loses that sense of balance. But it seems to me that those people I know (locally and via the internet) work too hard! And, to get balance in their life they need to seriously take hold of the concept of holy leisure..

So there. You have been encouraged to take it easy, sometimes – to ensure their is balance in your life, and that sometimes, on the orders of those ancient Church Fathers, you can indulge in a little bit of ‘down time’ and enjoy God’s green  earth.

So, I’m off. Back to Clackitt’s Wood for another ramble, an evening one this time.

2 thoughts on “Celtic Thought For The Day #21: O Is For Otium Sanctum

  1. I just heard of Otium Sanctum for our priest who is doing a prayer service tonight to find peace amid the fear and panic of the pandemic. Thank you. Kathleen (Kavanaugh) Murdy, California.


    • Hi Kay. Apologies for the delay in replying. Just when I think I’ve mastered technology, and have answered comments, something ‘trips’ me up, and I realise I haven’t replied to a comment. Apologies. Yes, otium sanctum is one of those phrases, that once heard you never forget. Many thanks for reading this article. Bright blessings to you and those whom you love, Tadhg.


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