Why I Wrote a Book About Christian Mystics

Or, What Trent Reznor and John O'Donohue Have in Common

When Peter Gabriel came to Atlanta in 2003, my wife Fran and I were able to get tickets to the concert through a friend who works in the music business. Not only did we have the best seats in the house (right behind and above the soundboard), but we were seated next to a row […]

A Christian Mystics Bibliography

Books to Read to Explore the Wisdom of the Great Contemplatives

Christian Mystics

Christian Mystics

In my books The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I suggest a number of books that anyone interested in learning more about Christian mysticism might enjoy.

On this page I’ve gathered together those books (and a few audio recordings). For good measure, I’ve thrown in a few other important titles, and will continue to add useful books to this page as they come to my attention.

I believe this list represents a comprehensive library of Christian mysticism for spiritual practitioners. It is designed for something more than merely the academic study of Christian mysticism — it is meant for those who, by the grace of God, actually wish to enter the mysteries.

Many of these books are expensive and unfortunately some are out of print, so I certainly encourage you to make use of your local library. Also, if you wish to purchase any of these books, please consider supporting your local independent bookstore. If you choose to buy your books online, each title on this page is linked to the book’s page on Amazon (if you click and buy, I get a small commission at no extra charge to you, so thank you for doing that).

This list represents a lifetime of spiritual reading. Happy exploring.

The One Essential Mystical Text

  • The Holy Bible (one edition I like to recommend: The Saints’ Devotional Bible). When I’m asked “What is the one book you recommend for those who wish to learn Christian mysticism?” I always say the Bible. That surprises a lot of people, but it is the plain fact that the mystics have, for two thousand years now, immersed themselves in scripture, prayed scripture, and patterned their lives after the wisdom found herein. Granted, many Christians read the Bible as if it were a legal document or a textbook of philosophy, which is why we can’t wrap our heads around the idea that it is actually a mystical masterpiece without parallel. Here’s a suggestion: when you read the Bible, read for the purpose of prayer (if you must engage in Bible study, then at least set aside some time strictly for Bible prayer), and think of it not as a history book or a legal document, but as a love letter between God and humanity. That will help you to be open to the life-transfiguring mystical wisdom found throughout this amazing collection of sacred writings.

An Important Book to Help You Read the Bible — and the Writings of the Mystics

  • Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina by Michael Casey provides the key to reading the Bible — and, for that matter, the writings of the mystics — in a truly prayerful and contemplative way. There are a number of books that explain the practice of lectio divina, but I’ve yet to find one that equals this luminous introduction.

My Books About Christian Mysticism and Contemplative Spirituality

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

The Big Book of Christian Mysticism

What is Christian mysticism? Who are the great mystics? What do they have to teach us? My books seek to answer these questions.

  • The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality seeks to answer the questions “What is Christian mysticism?” and “How can I incorporate the wisdom of the mystics into my own spiritual life?” Karl Rahner said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist” — this book is my response to his challenge.
  • Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages profiles the lives and core teachings of over one hundred of the greatest mystics and contemplatives of the Christian tradition. Arranged thematically (rather than chronologically or alphabetically), this book is meant to help today’s Christians find the mystics whose wisdom can be most inspirational for our own unique spiritual journeys.
  • The Little Book of Christian Mysticism (forthcoming) arranges a series of brief quotations from the great mystics and contemplatives into a format ideal for personal meditative use. This book works as a daily devotional guide or as a more general induction into the unique wisdom and spiritual insight that the mystics have to share with us.

In addition to my “Christian Mysticism Trilogy,” I’ve also written the following books that look at how to begin a contemplative prayer practice, and the spirituality of Cistercian (including Trappist) monasteries, respectively.

A Contemplative Reading List (from The Big Book of Christian Mysticism)

Writings of 108 Seers, Saints and Sages (recommended readings from Christian Mystics)

  1. Abhishiktananda, Prayer
  2. Adrienne von Speyr, The Boundless God
  3. Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship
  4. Albertus Magnus (and Thomas Aquinas), Albert and Thomas: Selected Writings
  5. Angela of Foligno, Complete Works
  6. Angelus Silesius, The Cherubinic Wanderer
  7. Anthony De Mello, Selected Writings
  8. Anonymous, The Cloud of Unknowing and Other Works
  9. Anonymous, The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way
  10. Anonymous (edited by Martin Luther), Theologia Germanica
  11. Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine
  12. Beatrice of Nazareth, The Life of Beatrice of Nazareth (Includes The Seven Manners of Holy Love)
  13. Bede Griffiths, The One Light
  14. Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of St. Benedict
  15. Bernard J. F. Lonergan, Method in Theology
  16. Bernard of Clairvaux, Selected Works
  17. Birgitta of Sweden, Life and Selected Revelations
  18. Blaise Pascal, Pensées and Other Writings
  19. Bonaventure, The Soul’s Journey Into God; The Tree of Life; Etc.
  20. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, The Practice of the Presence of God
  21. Bruno Barnhart. Second Simplicity: The Inner Shape of Christianity
  22. C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  23. Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
  24. Catherine of Genoa, Purgation and Purgatory; the Spiritual Dialogue
  25. Catherine of Siena, The Dialogue
  26. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks and Other Works
  27. Coventry Patmore, The Rod, The Root and the Flower
  28. Dag Hammarskjöld, Markings
  29. Edith Stein, The Science of the Cross
  30. Elisabeth of Schönau, The Complete Works
  31. Elizabeth of the Trinity, Always Believe in Love
  32. Ephrem the Syrian, Ephrem the Syrian: Hymns
  33. Evagrius PonticusThe Praktikos & Chapters on Prayer
  34. Evelyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism
  35. Francis de Sales, On the Love of God
  36. Francis of Assisi, Francis of Assisi in His Own Words: The Essential Writings
  37. Francisco de Osuna, The Third Spiritual Alphabet
  38. François Fénelon, Selected Writings
  39. Friedrich von Hügel, Spiritual Counsel and Letters of Baron Friedrich von Hügel
  40. Gemma Galgami, The Saint Gemma Galgani Collection
  41. George Fox, The Journal of George Fox
  42. George Herbert, The Country Parson; the Temple
  43. George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, Series I, II, and III
  44. Gerald G. May, Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology
  45. Gertrude of Helfta, The Herald of Divine Love
  46. Gregory of Narek, The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek
  47. Gregory of Nyssa, From Glory to Glory
  48. Gregory Palamas, The Triads
  49. Hadewijch, The Complete Works
  50. Henry Suso, The Exemplar, with Two German Sermons
  51. Hildegard of Bingen, Selected Writings
  52. Howard Thurman, A Strange Freedom
  53. Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises and Selected Works
  54. Isaac the Syrian, The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian
  55. Jacopone da Todi, The Lauds
  56. Jakob Boehme, Genius of the Transcendent
  57. Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence
  58. Jeanne Guyon, Selected Writings
  59. Johannes Tauler, Sermons
  60. John Cassian, The Conferences
  61. John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent
  62. John Donne, Selections from Divine Poems, Sermons, Devotions and Prayers
  63. John O’Donohue, Anam Ċara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom
  64. John of the Cross, The Collected Works of Saint John of the Cross
  65. John Ruusbroec, The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works
  66. John Scotus Eriugena, The Voice of the Eagle: The Heart of Celtic Christianity—John Scotus Eriugena’s Homily on the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John
  67. John the Evangelist, The Writings of St. John found in The New Testament
  68. John Wesley and Charles Wesley, Selected Prayers, Hymns, Journal Notes, Sermons, Letters and Treatises
  69. Julian of Norwich, The Showings of Julian of Norwich
  70. Karl Rahner, The Mystical Way in Everyday Life
  71. Kenneth Leech, Prayer and Prophecy: The Essential Kenneth Leech
  72. Margery Kempe, The Book of Margery Kempe
  73. Marguerite Porete, The Mirror of Simple Souls
  74. Maria Faustina Kowalska, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul
  75. Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, Selected Revelations
  76. Marie of the Incarnation, Selected Writings
  77. Maximus the Confessor, Selected Writings
  78. Mechtilde of Hackeborn, Select Revelations of S. Mechtild, Virgin, Taken from the Five Books of Her Spiritual Grace
  79. Mechthild of Magdeburg, The Flowing Light of the Godhead
  80. Meister Eckhart, Selected Writings
  81. Nicholas of Cusa, Selected Spiritual Writings
  82. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, A Handbook of Spiritual Counsel
  83. Origen of Alexandria, Spirit and Fire: A Thematic Anthology of His Writings.
  84. Paul of Tarsus, The Writings of St. Paul
  85. Phoebe Palmer, Selected Writings
  86. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe
  87. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, The Divine Names and The Mystical Theology
  88. Raimon Panikkar, Christophany: The Fullness of Man
  89. Ramón Llull, Doctor Illuminatus
  90. Richard of St. Victor, The Book of the Patriarchs; The Mystical Ark; Book Three of the Trinity
  91. Richard Rohr, The Naked Now
  92. Rufus M. Jones, Rufus Jones: Essential Writings
  93. Sarah Grant, Toward an Alternative Theology: Confessions of a Nondualist Christian
  94. Simone Weil, Waiting for God
  95. Symeon the New Theologian, The Discourses
  96. Teresa of Ávila, The Book of My Life
  97. Teresa of Calcutta, Come Be My Light—The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta
  98. Thérèse of Lisieux, Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Thérèse of Lisieux
  99. Thomas Aquinas (and Albertus Magnus), Albert and Thomas: Selected Writings
  100. Thomas Keating, Invitation to Love
  101. Thomas Kelly, A Testament of Devotion
  102. Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
  103. Thomas Traherne, Waking Up in Heaven
  104. Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection
  105. Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart
  106. William Law, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life and The Spirit of Love
  107. William of St. Thierry, On Contemplating God, Prayer, Meditations
  108. Willigis Jäger, The Way to Contemplation: Encountering God Today

Audio Recordings of Interest

Some Other Useful Books on Christian Mysticism and Contemplative Spirituality

Note: many of the following books are academic, rather than devotional, in tone.

Special Topics: the History of Christian Mysticism

Special Topics: the English Mystics

Special Topics: the Spanish Mystics

Special Topics: the German/Rhineland Mystics

Special Topics: Jesuit Mystics and Contemplatives

Special Topics: Eastern Orthodox Mystics

Special Topics: Protestant Mystics

Special Topics: Julian of Norwich

Special Topics: Evelyn Underhill

Special Topics: Thomas Merton

Special Topics: The Song of Songs

Special Topics: Deification

Special Topics: Benedictine and Cistercian Spirituality

Special Topics: Carthusian Spirituality

Special Topics: Centering Prayer and Christian Meditation

Special Topics: Eucharistic Devotion and Popular Piety

Special Topics: The Anamchara (Soul Friend) and Spiritual Direction

Special Topics: The New Monasticism

Author of Befriending Silence, Christian Mystics, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Catechist. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

Christian Mystics

108 Seers, Saints and Sages

Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages

Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages

Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages celebrates the many types of mystics, visionaries, wisdom keepers, and non-dualists whose spiritual insight and perceptive teachings have illuminated the Christian tradition for the past two thousand years. Looking at 108 mystics from Biblical times to the present day, this user-friendly guide shows how the spiritual masters of the western tradition provide a variety of paths into the transforming heart of God.

Everyone needs teachers and companions to guide and nurture us in developing rich interior lives — as we seek to respond to the beatifying, deifying love of God. The mystics, whose legacy includes sublime poetry, fascinating autobiographies, and potentially life-changing teachings, can help anyone find greater love, purpose, and a deeper sense of God’s presence.

We live to feel alive. We need to know love and joy. And I feel this book could help safeguard — and encourage — many tender, precious unfurling wings.Daniel Ladinsky
Bestselling author of The Gift and Love Poems From God

But the mystics are not a uniform bunch, which is why this book is such an essential guide to their lives, wisdom, and essential teachings. Carl McColman, author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, organizes the mystics into nine categories: visionaries, confessors, lovers, poets, saints, heretics, wisdom keepers, soul-friends, and unitives. By profiling twelve examples of great mystics and spiritual teachers in each category, the book can help you to learn more about the mystics, and identify those whose writings will be most valuable to you as you pursue your own adventure of falling ever more deeply in love with God.

All of the most famous Christian mystics are profiled here: figures like Teresa of Ávila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, and anonymous masters like the authors of classics like The Cloud of Unknowing or The Way of a Pilgrim. But the book also will introduce you to many lesser known (but truly wonderful) mystical geniuses, such as Beatrice of Nazareth, Gregory of Narek, and Coventry Patmore. Likewise, a number of living (or recently living) mystics are also included, such as Howard Thurman, Sara Grant, Kenneth Leech, and Bruno Barnhart.

This informative volume will appeal to those who buy religious reference books and anyone interested in Christian mysticism or western spirituality. But it’s more than just a history book or an encyclopedia: Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a curated celebration of western spiritual wisdom, making it accessible for all seekers today.

How blessed we are to have this book!  Carl McColman not only broadens our notion of mysticism, but also deepens it, and thus invites every Christian on the same beloved path.Richard Rohr, OFM
Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation and author of What the Mystics Know

A word from the author:

Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I originally envisioned including a section in that book that would serve as a sort of who’s who of mysticism, with entries for all the major figures that gave biographical informa-tion, key teachings or ideas, and a representative quote or two. For a variety of reasons, that never came to pass, and so The Big Book of Christian Mysticism only included a list of significant mystics and contemplatives of the Christian tradition. Here at last is my who’s who. I’ve written this not as a scholar or an academic, but as a spiritual practitioner—which means this is not meant to be an encyclopedia of facts and figures, but really an invitation for you to discover the riches of mystical wisdom in order to cultivate your own marvelous and wonderful relationship with God. I hope you enjoy it.”

Buy Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages:
Paperback: Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Independent Bookstore (Online or Near You)
Ebook: Kindle • Nook • iBooks • Kobo

More advance praise for Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages:

The genius of this book lies in its ability to introduce the reader to the heart of the mystics through tiny, sparkling jewels of their writings. Carl McColman knows these mystics deeply and selects passages that invite the reader into their profound experience of God.Margaret Benefiel
Author of The Soul of a Leader and Soul at Work
Carl McColman offers an inspiring introduction to a broad range of 108 Western Christian mystics, helpfully divided into 9 different kinds of mystics. The reader who is drawn to particular ones as potential teachers for their spiritual journey is helped by the author’s listing of an outstanding available book for each mystic, that will expose them more fully to that person’s wisdom. The book is written in lucid, non-academic language that allows it to be accessible to a wide range of people.Tilden Edwards
Founder of the Shalem Institute and author of Living Simply Through the Day
A treasure trove of the Christian mystics — seers, saints and sages — presented in all their rich diversity and offered as mentors to guide the contemporary Christian toward an encounter with the presence of God. Christian Mystics serves as both a primer and a resource to inspire and inform.Dana Greene
Author of Evelyn Underhill: Artist of the Infinite Life, and Denise Levertov: A Poet's Life
Christian Mystics is a delightful spiritual banquet, a real feast, giving us a taste of the many mystics throughout time who can serve as our teachers and companions. This book is a spiritual banquet, a real feast, making the mystical tradition accessible to all. Informative and inspiring, it brings the mystical tradition to life — a treasure to enjoy and return to again and again. Colette Lafia
Author of Seeking Surrender: How my Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught me to Trust and Embrace Life
In Christian Mystics, Carl McColman has given us the most delightful kind of book — a sampler that is as tasty and attractive as a See’s candy assortment. He offers us a brief taste of 108 mystics — people whose writings pull back the veil and give us a glimpse of the divinity, the unity, and the glory of all things. For each mystic he features a short biography and usually, a brief excerpt. Then, having enticed us, he points us to where we can get more, recommending a book or text for us to seek out and explore further. This is a dangerous book, because once you pick it up, it will lead you to at least 108 others, and those, of course, will lead to even more. It will set the reader on a journey that truly has no end. Rev. John R. Mabry, PhD
Author of Growing Into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism
With exceptional clarity once again Carl McColman snaps together words which lead us into the breadth, diversity and depth of the Christian contemplative tradition. One of the great merits of this book is that it makes clear the fundamental distinction between the essence of mysticism, on the one hand; and visions, locutions and other extraordinary phenomena on the other. For this I, for one, offer a deep bow of gratitude. Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO
Trappist monk and author of Tears of an Innocent God
Carl offers his readers the great gift of a distillation of 108 wise and worthy guides on the mystical way, each entry offering a spark for further exploration. His categories were especially helpful in finding kindred souls and I love that ‘Heretics’ were included. Christine Valters Paintner, PhD
Author of Illuminating the Way and The Soul of a Pilgrim
Carl McColman has given us another rich introduction to the Christian mystical tradition, this time though the lives of some of its greatest explorers. This loving and accessible collection of portraits shows us the lush diversity of those who’ve ventured deep into the presence of God. Visionaries and lovers, poets and others, McColman joins these scalers of the spiritual heights and invites us forward on our own journey. An invaluable resource for both newcomers and those well-versed in the contemplative way.Susan R. Pitchford
Author of Following Francis, God in the Dark, and The Sacred Gaze
Carl McColman’s wise and gentle primer has introduced me to many mystics I’ve never heard of, as well as renewed my acquaintance with some favorites like Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart and Richard Rohr. This book brings mystics down to earth even while bringing readers that much closer to heaven. I will be turning to it many times in the coming years.Jana Riess
Author of Flunking Sainthood
Christianity is a vast sea of wisdom, and yet most of us are content only to skim the surface. Carl McColman’s introduction to the Christian mystics invites us to dive deep and discover a Christianity most of us have never even imagined. If you think Christianity only equals Church and Sunday School, you need this book!Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Author of Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent
This useful and engaging book is, as the author says, a kind of ‘speed-dating’ introduction to the world of Christian mystics. It’s of real value both for beginners and for more experienced readers, who may have overlooked some of the great mystics of the past. Richard Smoley
Author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
108 is a sacred number in the Eastern wisdom traditions. I love that Carl McColman chose this esoteric vessel to hold the perennial wisdom of the Christian mystics. Drawing together an array of colorful visionaries and sublime poets, this book is an elegant guide to the essence of those awakened souls who transcend religiosity while simultaneously opening our hearts to the love of their Master, Christ.Mirabai Starr
Author of God of Love and Caravan of No Despair
I used to carry around Evelyn Underhill’s classic, Mysticism. My copy of Bernard McGinn’s anthology is marked on every page. But now, Carl McColman’s Christian Mystics will be my go to guide. The “Heretics” and “Poets” are like treasures hidden in a field, and the “Unitives” are like a heavenly feast — they are the ones that take us all to new ground.Jon M. Sweeney
author of The Enthusiast and When Saint Francis Saved the Church

Buy Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages:
Paperback: Amazon • Barnes & Noble
Independent Bookstore (Online or Near You)
Ebook: Kindle • Nook • iBooks • Kobo


Author of Befriending Silence, Christian Mystics, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Catechist. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

In April 2016 I’ll be returning to one of my favorite conference centers, Montreat (near Asheville, NC), to lead a workshop/ retreat on the Wisdom of the Christian Mystics. The event will combine prayer and story, conversation and silence, as we explore the wisdom of the great mystics and contemplatives and how their teachings can help us today in our response to Divine Love.

This program is co-sponsored by the Montreat Conference Center and Columbia Seminary’s Center for Lifelong Learning. This counts as an elective toward Columbia’s Certificate in Spiritual Formation.


Date: April 21, 2016—April 24, 2016
Event: Wisdom of the Christian Mystics
Sponsor: Columbia Seminary Center for Lifelong Learning
Venue: Montreat Conference Center
Location: 401 Assembly Drive
Montreat, NC 28757
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will benefit my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mystics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007)

This wonderful book explores the question “what is mysticism?” through the life stories and teachings of nine mystics: seven from the Christian tradition (including Hildegard of Bingen and Thomas Merton), plus Rumi (Sufism) and Dōgen (Zen). So the book is anchored in the Christian contemplative path, but has a nice interspiritual dimension as well. Emerging out of Fr. Harmless’s experience as a college professor, he had done a marvelous job at balancing scholarship and accessibility in creating this book, which is a delight to read and packed with insight. He successfully demonstrates that, far from being a monolithic type of “experience,” mysticism actually comes in many shapes and sizes, although all its varieties are linked together by an intentional commitment to nurturing the soul (and, for theists, nurturing intimacy with God).

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will benefit my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Three Mystics You May Have Missed

Lesser Known — But Wonderful — Voices in the Contemplative Tradition

Walk into a Catholic bookstore — or a general bookstore large enough to have a “Christian mysticism” section — and you will see books by or about Thomas Merton, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila, along with anonymous works like The Cloud of Unknowing or The Way of a Pilgrim.  These are the “A-List” mystics: […]

Seven Ways the Mystics Inspire Us Today

How the Spirituality of the Past will Craft the Christianity of the Future

One of my favorite quotations comes from Karl Rahner: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist.” It’s a prophetic statement, from a man who died in 1984. When paired with the demographic realities of the last 30 years (Americans who identify as Christian comprised 85{b583bb596bb2c84984aee1f32e70a80b80285001a0226212b58cbda01f2115e7} of the population in 1985, […]

What the Mystics Know (New York: Crossroad, 2015)

First, let me admit something: I’m not crazy about books that anthologize excerpts of writings from other sources. I find such “taken out of context” selections to be jarring to read. But that’s just my bias, so I’m recommending What the Mystics Know even though it’s that kind of book: sort of a “best of Richard Rohr,” at least in terms of his sizable corpus of writings published by Crossroad. Broadly divided into seven categories including enlightenment, imperfection, suffering, paradox, contemplation, truth and transformation, this book gathers together much of Father Richard’s easily accessible wisdom — not only on mysticism, but indeed on life in general. If you’re not familiar with Rohr, this would be a great starting point; if you already know his work, What the Mystics Know could work beautifully as a daily devotional.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will benefit my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Contemplating the Trinity

Silence. Embodiment. Breath.

The heart of Christian spirituality is the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. This is the ancient wisdom teaching that God is one God, in three persons: Father/Creator, Son/Redeemer, and Spirit/Sanctifier. We call ourselves “Christians” because we follow the 2nd Person of the Trinity: Jesus, the Christ. But it would be just as accurate — some […]

The Future of This Blog

Where I hope to take it in 2018

Hello friends! I hope 2017 has been good to you. This year I’ve survived two tropical storms (an unnamed one when we were vacationing in Florida in June, and then the remnants of Hurricane Irma when it blew through Atlanta a few weeks ago), did some nifty traveling (check out the pictures from our trip […]

Notice how sharp is the hearing and the sense of touch of a blind man. He has lost his faculty of seeing and this has forced him to develop his other faculties of perception. Something similar happens in the mystical world. If we could go mentally blind, so to speak, if we could put a bandage over our mind while we are communicating with God, we would be forced to develop some other faculty for communicating with him—that faculty which, according to a number of mystics, is already straining to move out to him anyway if it were given a chance to develop: the Heart.

Anthony de Mello S.J.
Sadhana: A Way to God (New York: Image Books, 1978), pp. 30-31.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this website are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I only recommend products or services I believe will benefit my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Who’s Your Favorite Christian Mystic?

Here's a Book to Help You Find Out

I’m happy to announce that my latest book — Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages — has been published. The first printing has been delivered to my publisher’s warehouse, and they are now in the process of being shipped out to bookstores (both online and brick & mortar). So your favorite bookseller should have stock […]

The Mystical Body

Contemplative Spirituality Is More Than Just a 'Head Trip'

How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)? Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church […]

Joyful Sanctity

If you think holiness is dreary, remember that melancholy is not a fruit of the Spirit!

What is the relationship between holiness and joy? A reader named Gordon writes, in response to my concerns about how “experience” can be misunderstood in a spiritual context: I agree with you that experience is not there for entertainment. But given my background in a very dreary fundamentalist religious upbringing, I always find the word […]

Reviving an old page from my first blog

Warning: If you love spiritual books, this could be hazardous to your wallet...

Reading books about the spiritual life can be a substitute for actually devoting time each day to prayer. So if you have to choose between prayer and reading, make prayer your priority. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to nurture an ongoing prayer practice is to devote some time each day to reading nurturing and […]