Thoughts Matter by Mary Margaret Funk This is a very good aide in the practice of the spiritual life. Our thoughts matter but often not in the way that we think they do.
The Ethiopian Tattoo Shop by Edward Hays Stories supposedly told by a tattoo artist to distract the client from the discomfort of the process of getting a tattoo. These parables have meanings for those on a spiritual quest.
Journeys on the Edge: The Celtic Tradition By Thomas O’Loughlin brings us a look at what has been called Celtic spirituality. He looks at original sources of the first millennium, which can help us understand much of what we inherited from these early Irish ancestors in faith.
Gold in your Memories by Macrina Wiederkehr, Ave Maria Press in Notre Dame, IN. 1998, will be a deep mine for those who want to dig for the gold in their own memories. Macrina is someone who can put you in touch with the spiritual energy that resides within you to empower you to make new memories every day you live. She shares my belief that we are all a work in process and our lives are a tapestry of memories. I invite you to taste one of her haiku poems: “A tiny gold leaf / offers a silent sermon / from a barren branch.”
Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith by Kathleen Norris. NY. Riverhead Books. 1998.
Words that have the potential to evoke strong responses, are subjects of short chapters that make for reflective reading. This is a good example of the practice of “holy reading” or lectio divina. You will find yourself meditating on your own power filled words for the revelation they hold. Norris helps by modeling this ancient process of probing her experiences for the graces they hold. Simply amazing.
The Road Less Traveled & Beyond by M. Scott Peck. NY. Simon & Schuster. 1997.
As anxiety becomes more intense, it is an opportunity for spiritual growth. “Scotty” lets us in on his spiritual growth in this book. I recommend reading the last chapter first, as it will give you the fruit of this authors reflection on his growth experiences. For those who have read other books by Peck, this one will tie all the earlier books together. In times like ours today, where we feel disoriented by so many rapid changes, a book like this will encourage you to go with God’s process of bringing you into your maturing as well.
For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann If the challenge of today is seen as secularism, Schmemann sees the answer in a renewal of the sense of worship. Worship calls us to the awesomeness of creation and leads us naturally to the sense of wonder at what or who caused all this to be and holds it in being. He comes to this through his Eastern Orthodox appreciation of the sacraments, which he sees as a ritual expression of this wonder and awe. If secularism is the belief that our space and time holds the answers to all our needs and questions, than worship expresses the opposite. Thomas Merton called this work, “a powerful, articulate, and indeed, creative essay in sacramental theology”. It is all this, and more.
If you are in the mood to dive deeply into a work that can help you get the ‘big picture’ of how we have come to an understanding of freedom and grace in the Christian tradition, I invite you to explore a work called A Gadamerian Reading of Karl Rahner’s Theology of Grace and Freedom by Dr. Carmichael C. Peters.
A student of mine recently gave me a “must read” book. As I like to be able to discuss books that “everyone” is reading I put it on my book stand. Eckart Tolle in “A New Earth“, seems to have touched something that people all over the earth are resonating to in a powerful way. In these days of people calling themselves “spiritual” but not “religious” Tolle has tapped into a well of energy that seems to have a lot of potential. You may want to buy or borrow this book to get in on the discussion.
Inside the School of Charity by Trisha Day, is about her three months living within the Trappistine cloister with the sisters of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey near Dubuque, IA. Trisha, a member of the Associates of Iowa Cistercians, reflects on the ways her experience with the sisters helps to inform her everyday life outside the cloister. Many feel that this is a nigh impossible task, but she does this very well. The values and practices of the Cistercian order are transferable and valuable for any person wanting to live a meaningful life, either on the “inside” or the “outside”. I have known Trisha and share in the membership of the AIC for many years, and promise you a fruitful read in this book.