Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Celtic Christian Spirituality reading list

Celtic Christian Spirituality reading list.

(The list below incorporates suggestions from Herbert O'Driscoll, Marcus Losack, Stephen Ott, and Katherine Doyle, S.M.
It is neither a required reading list nor is it exhaustive; it is intended to offer some possible choices for background reading.)

Spirituality – pilgrimage & exploration

Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue (HarperCollins, October 1997)

Celtic Threads: Exploring the Wisdom of Our Heritage by Padraigín Clancy (Dublin: Veritas, 1999)

The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination by Esther de Waal (Doubleday, 1997)

Every Earthly Blessing: Rediscovering the Celtic Tradition by Esther De Waal (Morehouse, 1999)

Glendalough: A Celtic Pilgrimage by Michael Rodgers and Marcus Losack (Morehouse, 1997)

In Search of Sacred Places: Looking for Wisdom on Celtic Holy Islands by Daniel Taylor (Bog Walk Press, 2005)

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by J. Philip Newell (Paulist Press, 1997)

Living Between Worlds: Place and Journey in Celtic Spirituality by Philip Sheldrake (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1995)

The Music of What Happens: Celtic Spirituality - A View from the Inside by John J. Ó Ríordáin C.Ss.R. (Dublin: Columba, 1996; US: Saint Mary's Press, 1996)

Soulfaring: Celtic Pilgrimage Then and Now by Cintra Pemberton, O.S.H. (Morehouse, 1999)

The Wisdom of the Celtic Saints by Edward C. Sellner (Bog Walk Press, 2006)

With an Eagle's Eye: A Seven-Day Sojourn in Celtic Spirituality by John Miriam Jones, S.C. (Ave Maria Press, 1998)

Spirituality – anthology & compilation

Celtic Christian Spirituality: An Anthology of Medieval and Modern Sources edited by Oliver Davies and Fiona Bowie (SPCK & Continuum, 1995)

Celtic Spirituality edited and translated and introduced by Oliver Davies; with the collaboration of Thomas O'Loughlin (Paulist Press, 1995)

The Celtic Vision: Prayers, Blessings, Songs, and Invocations from the Gaelic Tradition edited by Esther De Waal (Liguori/Triumph, 2001)
Selections from Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica (Edinburgh: T. and A. Constable, 1900).

History, myth & legend

Celtic Inheritance by Peter Berresford Ellis (London: Constable, 1985; New York: Dorset, 1992)

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill (Doubleday, 1995)

Memoir & biography

A Doorway in Time: Memoir of a Celtic Spiritual Journey by Herbert O'Driscoll (Harper & Row, San Francisco, 1985)

George MacLeod: Founder of the Iona Community by Ronald Ferguson (London: Collins, 1990; Glasgow: Wild Goose, April 2001)

Man of Aran by Pat Mullen (E. P. Dutton, 1935; M.I.T. Press, 1970)

Worship resources

A Celtic Primer: The Complete Celtic Worship Resource and Collection compiled by Brendan O’Malley (Morehouse, 2002)

Iona Abbey Worship Book by The Iona Community (Glasgow: Wild Goose, 2001)

Motion Pictures

Man of Aran written, directed and filmed by Robert J. Flaherty (Gainsborough Pictures, 1934)

Waking Ned Devine written and directed by Kirk Jones (Tomboy Films, 1998)


Early Irish history:

David Willis McCullough, ed., Wars of the Irish Kings: A Thousand Years of Struggle from the Age of Myth through the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I (Crown, 2000; Three Rivers Press, 2002)

Seumas MacManus et al., The Story of the Irish Race, Revised Edition (Devin-Adair, 1921)

An additional book on Celtic Christian Spirituality, by a collaborator on the Classics of Western Spirituality anthology of Celtic Spirituality (Paulist, 1999) is:

Thomas O'Loughlin, Journeys on the Edges: The Celtic Tradition (Orbis, 2000) in the Traditions of Christian Spirituality Series edited by Philip Sheldrake and co-published by Darton, Longman and Todd.

For fun, a children's book on Columba of Iona:

Jean Fritz, The Man Who Loved Books (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981)

Picture books abound, and they include:

Dorothea Lange's Ireland (Roberts Rinehart, 1998) including photographs taken in 1954 and kept in the Oakland Museum of California.

and more typically

The Islands of Ireland, text and photographs by Kenneth McNally (W. W. Norton, 1978)

Monday, May 14, 2007


Notes for a homily on the 400th anniversary of the first worship service in the Jamestown colony in Virginia.

In the Deuteronomy passage (Deuteronomy 11:10-15) the people of God learn about the land of promise, how God gives the growth, if we keep faith with him.

The Kingdom of Heaven likewise owes its growth to God. God only knows, God only sees, what we cannot. Planting, nurturing, growth, and harvest, are all due to him.

From the smallest beginning he makes great things.

These would have been words of some comfort to the Jamestown settlers who, 400 years ago today, held their first worship service using the 1559 Book of Common Prayer.

Today we use the same psalter they would have, that of Coverdale, and the Authorised Version of the Scripture lessons, which built upon the versions common in their day.

The growth from small settlement to great nations would have been a vision of Promised Land to them. But they were not the first dwellers in the land. The Kecoughtan people were there. Their very presence and their hospitality would remind the settlers that it is God who gives the growth.

Keep his commandments, be steward to his lands, the lands he has given to your care, for you to dwell in, and then you will prosper.

It is quite a promise: keep my commandments and I will husband your growth: your growth as a nation and a people, and most of all, and above all, as a people of God.

May 14, 2007.

Saturday, May 5, 2007



In the Errol Flynn movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938) Robin gives Maid Marian a foretaste of the heavenly banquet. He escorts her to table at a clearing in Sherwood Forest. The poor, hungry, downtrodden, miserable people have gathered there, and from the king's deer they prepare a meal in celebration of their already-but-not-yet liberation from the tyranny of the High Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and evil Prince John.

Spits turn, fires burn, and soon, all is ready. A great big man in a leather apron comes out to call everyone to eat:


Well. It isn't an exact parallel. They are, however, all sharing in the feast, high and low, rich and poor, alike.

What Paul had found at Corinth was different, and he admonished them:

For when the time comes to eat, each of you goes ahead with your own supper, and one goes hungry and another becomes drunk. What! Do you not have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you show contempt for the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I commend you? In this matter I do not commend you! (1 Corinthians 11:21-22)

Paul is calling the Corinthians back to a true sense of the banquet of the Lord. He is calling them back to Peter's vision. Peter - and Paul - perceived that at the feast of the true king, nobody was left out. In the new order of the ages established by Christ, we receive the Great Commandment, "love one another." (John 13:34)

They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love.

Peter learned that nothing is profane that God has made clean. All creatures, everyone and all things, praise the Lord. (Psalm 148)

All things praise him. What God has made clean, you shall not despise, but accept and make welcome.

In the peaceable Kingdom of Heaven, all share at the table and share alike (Acts 2): not gorging themselves in the presence of hunger.

Twenty-four years ago a Franciscan named Neal Flanagan taught a New Testament Theology class. He talked about Paul's observation, that in the peace of God, "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

Neal remarked that in the first century of our era, the Church dealt with the first distinction, between Jew and Gentile; in the 18th and 19th centuries, we confronted the second, liberty and slavery; and now we are dealing with the third. But Paul's list is not exhaustive. It may be that what we confront now is different.

As Martin Marty and Dean Baker have pointed out, each age has its own particular partial blindness. We look back on past ages and ask: how could they be so blind? Their prejudices look, in hindsight, quaint, absurd, and deeply tragic. But what will a future age see that we do not? What is our blind spot?

Peter had a vision: God gave Jews and Gentiles the same gift, "the repentance that leads to life." There goes that first prejudice. William Wilberforce, Frederick Douglass, John Newton, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and the unnamed volunteers of the U.S. Colored Troops - all these opened eyes to the second prejudice, the discrimination between slave and free. And that blindness has begun to recede.

What is our blind spot? Could it be wealth and poverty, hunger and surfeit?

A hundred years from now, will anyone be able to comprehend the idea of sitting down for dinner without all being fed? Who are the hungry among us? Who is lacking sustenance?

Yes, spiritual as well as physical - but certainly physical. Jesus looked up at his disciples and said: "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh." (Luke 6:20-21)

Have we been as blithe as the first Corinthians and happily opened our picnic baskets and lunch boxes, sharing them among themselves, not sharing with the uninvited - because unseen - poor: the poor who have nothing to bring to the potluck but themselves, their own creatureliness?

[At this point I hold up a bed sheet imprinted with a pattern of African game animals, both grazers and hunters.]

And yet behold this sheet! Imprinted on it not the face of Jesus but the animals of Peter's vision: Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! (Psalm 148:10)

They are animals of Peter's vision - and ours, if our eyes are opened. All praise God - Jew and Greek, rich and poor, hungry and well fed, slave and free. All are to praise God: who are we that we could hinder God?

All are welcome at the Lord's Table. Come, eat, and be fortified for the living of the gospel.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)


The Lessons Appointed for Use on the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C - RCL:
Acts 11:1-18
Psalm 148
Revelation 21:1-6
John 13:31-35

Holy Trinity, Willows
May 6, 2007

Jon M. Walton, “Living by the Word: Dreaming in Joppa”, The Christian Century, April 17, 2007, Vol. 124, No. 8, p. 17.