Saturday, November 8, 2014

Number 4: The Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

Ed Sellner's "Wisdom of the Celtic Saints" (2008) pulls in as number four on my list of top five books on Celtic Christianity. I give it this ranking for "chronological reasons"! After having some of the history, and primary sources under your belt (books 1-3), you are now ready to launch into the great hagiography (lives of the saints) which makes up so much of Celtic Christianity.

And here Sellner delivers the proverbial home run-slams it out!

I love this book! Several features about "Wisdom of the Celtic Saints" keep drawing me back to the book.  First, the book is beautifully laid out with cool maps and drawings of the saints. These remind the reader these accounts are about real people who had real struggles and that we can learn important lessons from them even though they lived centuries ago.

Second, the introduction provides of one the best and most concise introductions to Celtic Christianity I have ever read. Right out nails it!

And third-and this is the meat of the book-Sellner provides you with lively sketches of the lives and wisdom of 27 Celtic saints. Some of these saints you will have heard of: Aidan of Lindisfarne, Brendan of Clonfert, Bridit of Kildare, Columban of Luxeuil, Columcille of Iona, Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, David of Wales, Gall of St. Gallen, Hild of Whitby, Kevin of Glendalough, Ninian of Whithorn, Patrick of Armagh. Others, Canair of Bantry Bay just to name one, probably not. Nonetheless, these will be people you'll be glad you know something about.

By the time you finish "Wisdom of the Celtic Saints" you will be amazed of the deep, deep spirituality of Celtic Christianity and realize that this is a "brand" of spirituality that has sharp contrasts to our own lazy and fat "brand" of Christianity lite! How many of us would leave where we live, jump in a small boat, let it take us where ever the wind blows and start life anew? And even better, you will be able to look to the Celtic saints as "soul friends" who can teach you important lessons and even inspire you.

In the introduction, Mr. Seller notes "Thomas Merton, wrote in a journal a few years before his death in 1968: "I am reading about Celtic monasticism, the hermits, the lyric poets, the pilgrims, the sea travelers, etc. A whole new world that has wait until now is opening up for me". (pg. 15).

In "Wisdom of the Celtic Saints" a whole new Celtic world will open up for you. Grab a pint of Guinness, sit down and read this book!

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