by Pat Robson
This beautiful collection of Celtic writings celebrates the seasons of life: the wonder of creation, New Year, Easter, Harvest, the daily toil, being alone with God, baptism, marriage, family, reconciliation and peace.
The Celtic Heart skillfully brings alive the language and images of the Celtic tradition. It also outlines the history of Celtic Christianity, and gives short biographies of those who influenced the growth of Celtic spirituality, from St Anthony to King Arthur.
The Celtic Christians beheld the world around them and perceived the divine life of God upholding every aspect of the material universe. Their prayers and poems, their liturgies and their theological texts give Christians a sense of faith that is confident in a merciful and infinitely creative, healing God.
In this introduction to Celtic Christian spirituality, Mary C. Earle presents the primary texts from the Celtic Christian tradition - selections from the writings of Pelagius, Eriugena and St Patrick, as well as prayers and poems from Wales, the Outer Hebrides and Ireland. These essential texts direct humanity to read the 'book of creation' as well as the book of scripture, and call us to remember that 'matter matters'. The author's engaging facing-page commentary explores how faithful Christians and spiritual seekers use the writings of this lively tradition as ways of embodying and living the gospel.
From the fall of Rome to the rise of Charlemagne – the 'dark ages' – learning, scholarship and culture disappeared from the European continent. The great heritage of Western civilisation – from the Greek and Roman classics to Jewish Christian works – would have been utterly lost were it not for the holy men and women of the unconquered Ireland.
In this delightful and illuminating look into a crucial but little-known 'hinge' of history, Thomas Cahill takes us to the 'island of saints and scholars', the Ireland of St Patrick and the Book of Kells. Here, far from the barbarian despoliation of the continent, monks and scribes labouriously, lovingly, even playfully preserved the West's written treasury. With the return of stability in Europe, these Irish scholars were instrumental in spreading learning. Thus the Irish not only were conservators of civilisation, but became shapers of the medieval mind, putting their unique stamp on Western civilisation.
There is a traditional saying of ancient wisdom: 'A threshold is a sacred thing. In some places of the world, in some traditional cultures and in monastic life, this is still remembered. It is something, however, that we often forget today. To take time to pause at a threshold - be it a place, or a moment between one action and the next - is to show reverence for the handling of space and time, and respect for those who we meet. Pausing allows us to let go of all the demands and expectations of the previous activity, and to prepare for the encounter with another. Esther de Waal explores what this ancient wisdom has to teach us about our public lives in the world today.