Saturday, October 17, 2009

Celtic Daily Prayer

The essence of Celtic Spirituality is a heart wide open to God in every person, in all the world. It is to do with crossing frontiers, not erecting barriers,. It goes so deep that, without losing what is distinctive, it becomes universal.
Ray Simpson, Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda

A main theme of this blog is how one stays spiritually alive, empowered, and connected. This is not easy in a world which stresses the material and is at its heart secular. And specifically, how does the Celtic connection help in this task? In one sense, learning from the experience of others can be useful. And here, the lives and writings of those who have gone before us can help. We can learn something from their struggles and the themes of many of the Celtic writers; that is part of their charm and attraction. One way to discover the beauty of Celtic Spirituality is to acquaint oneself with its many writers and saints. As they say, the proof is in the pudding! An easy way to do this on a daily basis, is to purchase one of the many Celtic devotionals. There are many books in this category, and here I will review two popular devotional books.

Celtic Daily Prayer, which Richard Foster called one "of the best contemporary prayer books available" contains readings and prayers from the Northumbria Community. The Northumbria Community is located in Northern England and seeks to practice Celtic Chrisitianity in the modern world. (A link to the Northumbria Community is found on the opening page of the blog.) The Community has many useful resources and the serious Celtic Christian will find it worthwhile to learn more about the Community and its practices. Celtic Daily Prayer can be used in multiple ways. There is a daily office, useful liturgies such as holy communion liturgy and family shabbat. Then follows a list of saints' days and festivals. This is followed by a list of daily readings and meditations. It's a book that constantly surprizes, and I have often used sections and readings in worship with good feedback. It's a little pricey, but it's easy to pick up a used copy on Amazon or Abebooks.

Another excellent devotional resource, and more focused book, is Ray Simpson's Celtic Daily Light. Ray is the Guardian of the Community of Aidan and Hilda (also linked on the front page of the blog). And again, this is a Community which also has many useful Celtic resources and links. The book contains daily readings on Celtic Spirituality, taken from many Celtic saints, and others who are soulfriends in spirit. For example today's reading is on the theme of dependency. Simpson writes;

"Celtic Christianity spawned close fellowships and delighful friendships, but it did not spawn dependency. If someone wanted to enter a monastery (and sometimes these became the only safe and decent places around) they had to wait outside for days. They had to show that they could take responsibility for their food, sleep and time, that they could make their own decisions and that they could work hard".

There are useful insights and lessons on each page. The readings always provide something useful to both question and ponder. I ordered my copy from Lindisfarne, but I am happy to see that copies are also available at Amazon. Both books have much to offer the person interested in Celtic Spirituality. I'm sure there are many other books where one could start. Nevertheless, this is a great place to start, and the money on these books is well spent. I commonly zig zag back and forth between them, and almost always find something new and interesting. Both books offer a wonderful way to stay focused and spiritual during the day. More importantly, they remind us of the depth, beauty, and inspiration found in Celtic Christianity.

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