Tuesday, December 14, 2010

One stop shop for Celtic Spirituality

"Let us adore the Lord,
Maker of marvelous works,
Bright heaven with its angels,
And on earth the white-waved ocean"

"The Lord of Creation" (Ninth-Century Irish Poem)

I'm often asked where to begin one's investigation of Celtic Christianity. Today's blog entry happily tackles that question. One of the best places to start is Celtic Spirituality (1999) from the Classics of Western Spirituality series.

This book literally has it all! It's a one-stop shop of original texts which also includes an excellent essay introducing Celtic Spirituality. The latter is worth the price of the book. The work is a collaboration of Celtic scholars James Mackey, Oliver Davies and Thomas O'Loughlin. And with these heavy hitters, the book delivers.

Celtic Spirituality is neatly divided into several sections, highlighting different aspects of the rich and varied Celtic tradition. It's a Celtic smorgasbord (forgive the close reference to those Vikings) so the reader never gets bored. The hagiograhpy section introduces the reader to the traditions of Patrick, Brigit, Brendan, David, Beuno, and Melangell. What great people these are. Then the book turns to key monastic texts such as the Preface of Gildas on Penance, the Penitential of Cummean, and the Rule for Monks by Columbanus. You will learn just how rugged and difficult the life of the Celtic monk was, and it will wipe away many romantic notions. Another section includes a wide range of Irish and Welsh poetry. There are also devotional texts, liturgies, apocrypha, exegesis and homilies. My favorite section was the theology chapter which includes writings by Pelagius, Columba and John Scottus Eriugena.

The survey of texts is magnificent! For Celtic lovers this volume is a keeper and not to be missed. There is so much "good stuff" inside, you will find yourself returning to Celtic Spirituality again and again with joy and delight. If you could only have one volume on Celtic Christianity and spirituality on your bookshelf, this may well be the one. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Celtic things. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Yep! One of my favorites. If I could have only three such books, this would be one, and it would sit on the shelf next to _The Celtic Monk_ and _King of Mysteries_.