Reading List

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.

University courses

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.

Resource Lists

Resource List

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.

Desert Christians


  • 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 Fathers by 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 Courts Press)
  • 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 differently?’

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 the essence of vows.

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  to list.
  • Reading with God: Lectio Divina by David Foster
  • They Built on Rock: Stories of the Celtic Saints by Diana Leatham (Hodder & Stoughton)
  • 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

Soul friends: 

  • The Community’s A Beginner’s Guide for Soul Friends and those they Accompany contains 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 Publications 1991)


  • 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 Vladimir’s Seminary Press)

5. Simple life style

  • Rich Christians In an Age of Hunger: a Biblical Study by Ronald J. Sider (Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Change the World for a Fiver: 50 actions to change the world and make you feel good  (Short Books)

6. Care for creation

  • A Cloud of Witnesses: The Deep Ecological Legacy of Christianity. A collection of the writings from saints and seers, mystics and reformers that contribute to a Christian theology and ethic of creation. Ed. 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 Parker (DLT)

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 (Morning Star)
  • The Prophet, a man of God: the interior life of a prophet  by Walter Vogels (Carmelite booklet)

Wild Spirit:  

  • God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes (DLT)
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge (Thomas Nelson)

9. Unity

Weaving Together the Separated Strands:

  • Streams of Living Water: celebrating the great traditions of Christian Faith by Richard Foster (HarperCollins)
  • The Orthodox Church by Timothy Ware (Penguin)
  • Vatican Council 11: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents Ed. Austin Flannery (Fowler Wright)

Building Community:

  • Community and Growth by Jean Vanier (DLT)

10. Mission

Sharing Faith :

  • Emerging Evangelism by John Finney (DLT)

Establishing Justice: 

  • The Soul of Politics by Jim Wallis (HarperCollins Fount)