At the Edge of Waiting — A Celtic Approach to Contemplation

The Irish word for contemplation — or contemplative prayer — is rinnfheitheamh. Yes, that’s a mouthful! I only have enough Irish to be dangerous, and the pronunciation of Irish depends on which of several dialects you’re speaking, but to the best of my knowledge the pronunciation is something like RINN-eh-hev.So why such a big word, for such a simple concept? To answer that question, let’s take rinnfheitheamh apart.Rinn means a point or a tip, as in the sharp point of a sword. Fheitheamh … [Read more...]

The Three Streams of Celtic Spirituality (and Three Lessons We Learn from it)

Friends, I am in the process of writing a book about Celtic spirituality. This will be the first book on Celtic wisdom that I have written since becoming a Catholic in 2005. Over the next few weeks I hope to post excerpts from the manuscript to this blog, both to share with you what's on my mind these days but also to garner any comments or feedback you'd like to share. Please remember that this is "unvarnished" writing — the book itself will be carefully edited and revised, so the text that you … [Read more...]

How the Deserts of Egypt Inspired the Saints of Ireland

In the Celtic lands, you’ll find places with names like Dysart or Dysert. There’s Dysart in Scotland, a suburb of Kirkcaldy, where a Celtic holy man named St. Serf once lived. Or there’s Dysert O’Dea in Co. Clare, Ireland, the site of a monastery said to have bene founded by St. Tola in the eighth century.Others can be found, sprinkled across the land, often with some sort of connection to a saint or monastery of old.These places are named for the Gaelic word díseart, which means “hermita … [Read more...]

A Contemplative Faith — with a Gaelic Accent!

Friends, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of Celtic spirituality for me. I hope you'll join me in exploring this lovely dimension of Christian wisdom.What, exactly, is Celtic Christianity? Sure, it's the spirituality found in books like John O'Donohue's Anam Cara or Esther de Waal's Every Earthly Blessing, among many others. But still: what is it?The easiest answer to this question is: the distinctive spirituality of the Celtic peoples, which includes the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wal … [Read more...]