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Celtic Way of Prayer Hardcover – July 14, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Historian and retreat leader de Waal explores the rich legacy of Celtic songs, poems, prayers, and blessings that grew out of the dynamic meeting of Christian monasticism with an older, communal way of life ordered by kinship, a rural sense of place, the pattern of the seasons, and the cycles of birth and death. The author does a fine job tracing the strands that make Celtic Christianity compelling and unique. An important addition to Celtic literature for both general readers and specialists.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"In what will undoubtedly be a classic on Celtic spirituality and prayer, Esther de Waal leads her readers to a rediscovery of the beauty and richness of the Celtic way of life."
--Rosemary Rader, OSB

"What Esther has written is superb, because the combination of Esther's own spirituality and early Celtic spirituality is bound to be superb...I have read every word slowly, carefully, enjoying, being nourished. It isn't just that Celtic spirituality with its loving immediacy is appealing, it is that it is necessary at this time of violence and indifference and greed in the Western world. It can, indeed, be our salvation."
--Madeleine L'Engle

"Esther de Waal's unique contribution to Celtic Christian studies is that she is never outside her subject. Her constant ability to apply the life of those earlier centuries to her own devotional life makes it possible for those of us who read her to encounter those people in such a way that their Christian journey can become food and drink for us in the hunger and thirst of our own century."
--Herbert O'Driscoll, author of A Doorway in Time

"A rich tapestry of learning, personal experience of prayer, empathy with monastic endeavor and a real understanding of what inspiration is needed by so many of the laity also in their journey of Christian prayer today."
--Patrick Barry, OSB, Abbot of Ampleforth Abbey --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1 edition (July 14, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385486634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385486637
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Donald S. Meador on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
Wow! This book is not what I expected. I was looking for a "how to" on prayer the "celtic way." What I got was a deep, and sometimes profound, look at prayer as a way of life. This book is not about sitting down to pray. It is about praying - morning, noon and night.
I was especially moved by the focus on the trinity and the cross in the prayer of the celtic people. De Waal devotes a chapter to each of these topics. She thoroughly demonstrates what she has to say, what she has come to practice in her own prayer life, with excellent examples from the prayers and poetry of celtic Christians and monks.
Another aspect, the one that took me deeper and farther than I expected to go, is the celtic idea of journeying. We journey through life (we all know this), and prayer is a living part of that journey (we often forget this). So true is her statement, "I shall not find Christ at the end of the journey unless he is with me along the way."
The final chapter on praise in the celtic prayerlife was wonderful. I found myself longing to hear the examples of praise put to music today. I think it would enrich the worship at my own church.
I enjoyed The Celtic Way of Prayer tremendously. Coming from a Protestant background I disagreed with the celtic worship of Mary that is sometimes revealed in De Waal's examples. However, anyone should be able to read beyond such a disagreement and be edified in their spiritual growth by applying the rich ideas from the celtic way of prayer in their own life. There is much to be gleaned from this book.
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By or James W. Knox on March 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As Chairman of the Irishroom Committee of the Nationality Rooms, University of Pittsburgh, I took great interest in sharing with the members of our Committee this wonderful book by Esther DeWaal. The Celtic Way of Prayer emphasizes a spirtuality that is too often overlooked in our society today. The ancient Celtic poetry contained in each chapter was carefully indexed as to author and time in the Notes at the conclusion of the book. I found it significant that the book contained a wealth of Blessings that come from the oral tradition that made praying a part of everyday life. It helps the reader to appreciate the many Blessings that we do not count and are often even unaware that they exist. This indeed is a book I highly recommend to all who are interested in the recovery of the religious imagination.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Chip Webb on May 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Esther de Waal provides readers with a very good overview of Celtic Christian spirituality by examining the subjects of their prayers. Wisely, she lets the prayers themselves do most of the talking; she refrains from long explications of them, a practice that allows the reader to project himself or herself into the situation and make personal applications more easily. This book particularly serves as a good introduction to Celtic Christianity for those unfamiliar with it.
If I have one major complaint with the book, it concerns de Waal's style: she responds to the prayers more from her head than her heart. Also, it might have been helpful to include a historical overview at times, but that's not the purpose of this book. (For a good historical overview, see Oliver Davies' introduction to Celtic Spirituality in Paulist Press' Classics of Western Spirituality series.) These are minor complaints, however, for a book that contains so many Celtic Christian prayers from down through the centuries.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Doug F. VINE VOICE on April 2, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While guiding us through the beauty of Celtic prayers, Esther De Waal reveals the path to making faith and prayer a part of every part of our day. This book will renew your sense of wonder and celebration of God's presence in all things.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Foret on July 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Ester De Waal is an Anglican lay woman, a historian who studied and taught at Cambridge. Her specialties are Celtic Christianity in general, and Benedictine spirituality. The two fields, of course, fit together quite naturally. As this book makes very clear, Celtic Christianity owes very much of its development to two great traditions. The Celtic half of it covers, quite literally, the westernmost peoples of Europe, although Rome and even later London might argue that the Celtic peoples were not Western Europeans at all. (De Waal does not mention it, but just a couple of centuries ago some English writers were portraying the Irish in particular as barely human, and sometimes the Scots not much better.) For those who come to this book not knowing much about the Celts, this book will introduce them to a much wider cast of characters than they might expect. Although the individuals and the cultural creations that De Waal writes about here are most Irish, Scots, and Welsh, she acknowledges that there were other peoples who contributed to Celtic Christianity, including peoples living in the areas that we know today as Cornwall, Brittany, and the Isle of Man. Reading this book, one will learn a bit about the lives of the Celtic peoples from the earliest days of Christianity in the British Isles through the nineteenth century, when many of the songs, hymns and prayers—sometimes hard to tell apart, as she relates—were collected in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. I may be biased, since I have ancestors from both Ireland and Brittany, but the more I learn about these peoples, the more I love them.

The other half, of course, is the Christian part. Here, once again, De Waal does a great job of introducing the reader to a very important story in a way that makes you want to learn more.
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