Charles R Ringma
Hear The Ancient Wisdom: A Meditational Reader for the Whole Year from the Early Church Fathers up to the Pre-Reformation Period
Cascade books/SPCK, 2013

ISBN 978-0281071128

"(A) book which is breathtaking in its span as it covers the early church - desert fathers and mothers, monastic, leaders of the church and renewal movements, mystics - and the pre-Reformation reformers."

Covering the spiritual writings of more than 70 authors whose lives span 14 centuries, this reader offers daily wisdom that witnesses to rich Christian traditions of faith and spirituality.

This book is enabling me to learn from the ancient wisdom, by providing sufficient material to companion my reflection and prayer for a year at the rate of one page per day. These meditations are feeding my growth in spirit on the journey and enriching the transcendental dimension of my life.

Each day is structured with a Scripture reading, the theme of the day, a three to four line summary with a challenging thought directed to ‘we’ or ‘us’, three to six sentences applying a quote sourced from an ancient writer, and a concluding thought as an invitation for meditation, reflection and prayer.

Whilst the source quote for the day is relatively brief, it is enriched by the insights of Charles Ringma, the compiler. These insights reflect the breadth and depth of his immersion in the life and writings of the ancient Christians from whom he quotes. The index lists 365 sources written over many years and clearly indexed. By providing this bibliography the author hopes that appetites of users will be whetted to search further.

Thumbing through at random I found Benedictine comments on the charism of stability (16th April), Augustine on the joy of wholeness (5th February), St Aelrud on the lightness of being in the love and will of God(28th October), and John Cassian on humility as the basis to receive the knowledge of the word (6th December).

The sources of all the quotes are listed sequentially in the endnotes and to enable us to seek further information. We are also assisted by three indices: author, Scripture and subject, plus a brief history of the authors and writings cited.  

Here is a book that brings things old and new and which promises an enriching daily journey, which will also challenge, inspire, question, stretch our lives. It would make a useful present for any adult who is open to, or unfamiliar with, the wisdom of the ancients.

Mercifully some of the work is drawn from the ancient mothers, particularly Julian (12 entries), Catherine of Siena (six entries) and Hildegarde (nine entries). But there could be more - and that is my only complaint about a book which is breathtaking in its span as it covers the early church - desert fathers and mothers, monastic, leaders of the church and renewal movements, mystics - and the pre-Reformation reformers. Solid, surprising, nourishing and challenging. Recommended.

To buy this book, follow this link, Hear the Ancient Wisdom: A Meditational Reader for the Whole Year from the Early Church Fathers up to the Pre-Reformation.