Some Study Suggestions for Members
Those who follow our Way of Life commit to ongoing study. Our understanding of this
is in the context of Jesus’ call
to us to be life-long learners, that is, disciples.
Our two primary aims should be
- To love God with all our mind and being.
- To learn through daily reflection on the Scriptures, on other spiritual reading and on everyday
Two common pitfalls to avoid are
- Academic study that divorces intellectual analysis from the living of life. The great
church teachers of early centuries lived what they thought. They united obedience to truth with
thinking about truth. Western universities lost this holistic approach. We seek to restore through
the heart’ study.
- Prejudice buttressed by wilful ignorance; that is, unwillingness to be open to facts wherever
they may lead on the grounds that they ‘undermine faith’. This approach is not holistic
either, and it is not honest.
If you have the time, money, aptitude and motivation to undertake accredited university courses
you could find out from the internet about the courses at the universities of Wales, Cork, Edinburgh
and Cambridge. However, note the first warning above.
Informal head-through-the heart studies
Increasing numbers express longings for some such study programme. We are in the early stages of
exploring possibilities, and would like to hear from tutors and others who are engaging with this.
Meanwhile we offer below an introductory reading list with some suggested questions for those who want
to take a next step. Note that resources for Bible study are fundamental, but are not included here
since they are amply provided for elsewhere.
You can download a PDF file providing an extensive list of books and online
resources for the study of Celtic Christianity here. This contains a much greater range of
resources than the lists below, which relate to specific topics.
- The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton (New Directions USA ISBN 0-8112-0102-3)
- The World of the Desert Fathers by Columba Steward and The Wisdom of the Desert
Benedicta Ward (both from Fairacres SLG Press, Fairacres, Oxford)
- The Letters of Saint Antony the Great trans Derwas Chitty (Fairacres)
- Conferences by John Cassian (Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality)
- The Life of Antony by Athanasius in Early Christian Lives (penguin)
- To Prayer and Love: Conversations on Prayer with the Desert Fathers by Roberta Bondi
(Burns & Oates)
- Celtic Daily Light by Ray Simpson, is a devotional introduction which has a list of
sources at the back.
- Writings of Patrick and Lives of Brigid in Saint Patrick's World by Liam De Paor (Four
- Adamnon's Life of Columba (Penguin)
- Bede's Life of Cuthbert (in the Age of Bede - Penguin)
- The Life of Samson of Dol (Llanerch Press)
- The Life of Martin of Tours (in Early Christian Lives - Penguin).
If we are not used to academic study, we tend to take from our reading whatever speaks to us, without
being aware of the background and assumptions either of the people written about or of the
author. So in order to more accurately understand the reality and the significance of our subjects,
students find out about the social background and mind-set of the time. This requires us to
acquire sometimes humdrum data. We need to find out where to obtain the sources. We then need to
ask questions such as:
- ‘Why did the author choose this story?
- How much of this is superimposed by the author?’
- ‘What are our most basic sources?’
- ‘If (e.g. a saint) lived in our very different society, what might (s)he do
Books on the Community of Aidan and Hilda Way of Life
A Pilgrim Way: new celtic monasticism for everyday people by Ray Simpson is a
commentary on our
Way of Life.
Making of vows: the three life-giving principles of simplicity, purity and obedience
A little book called Rule for a new brother with a foreword by Henri Nouwen (DLT) explores
Selling All by Sandra M Schneiders (Paulist Press 2001) is about testing a vocation to a
residential religious community, but its contemporary chapters about discernment, spiritual
formation and commitment have wider value.
1. Life-long learning
- The Bible. There are too many study versions, commentaries and daily readings
- Reading with God: Lectio Divina by David Foster
- They Built on Rock: Stories of the Celtic Saints by Diana Leatham (Hodder &
- Saints of Northumbria: Cuthbert, Aidan, Oswald, Hilda edited by Iain Macdonald (Floris
Books) are readable introductions for those who know nothing of these saints.
2. Spiritual journey
- The Community’s A Beginner’s Guide for Soul Friends and those they
a list of books about spiritual direction.
- Soul Space: Making a Retreat in the Christian Tradition by Margaret Silf (SPCK)
- St. John’s Gospel: a self-directed retreat by Brian Grenier (St Paul
- Look up a pilgrim’s guide to the place you are interested in.
3. Rhythm of prayer, work and recreation
- Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (HarperCollins)
4. Spiritual initiative through intercession
- Intercession: Rees Howells, Intercessor by Norman Grubb (Lutterworth)
- Spiritual Warfare: Unseen Warfare by Theophan the Recluse is an Orthodox approach (St
5. Simple life style
- Rich Christians In an Age of Hunger: a Biblical Study by Ronald J. Sider (Hodder and
- Change the World for a Fiver: 50 actions to change the world and make you feel good
6. Care for creation
- A Cloud of Witnesses: The Deep Ecological Legacy of Christianity. A collection of the
saints and seers, mystics and reformers that contribute to a Christian theology and ethic of
Frederick W Krueger (Santa Rosa, California)
- Caring for Creation: Biblical and Theological Perspectives ed. Sarah Tillett (BRF)
7. Healing fragmented people and communities
- Healing people: Healing by Francis MacNutt (Ave Maria Press)
- Healing communities: Healing Wounded History: reconciling peoples and healing
places by Russ
8. Openness to God's Spirit
- A Heart to Listen: Becoming a listening person in a noisy world by Michael Mitton (BRF)
- You All May Prophesy! Practical Guideless for Prophetic Ministry by Steve Thompson
- The Prophet, a man of God: the interior life of a prophet by Walter Vogels
- God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes (DLT)
- Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (Thomas Nelson)
Weaving Together the Separated Strands:
- Streams of Living Water: celebrating the great traditions of Christian Faith by Richard
- The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (Penguin)
- Vatican Council 11: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents Ed. Austin Flannery
- Community and Growth by Jean Vanier (DLT)
Sharing Faith :
- Emerging Evangelism by John Finney (DLT)
- The Soul of Politics by Jim Wallis (HarperCollins Fount)