John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent (The Classics of Western Spirituality)


John Climacus
    It is an expiation of sin, a bridge across temptation, a bulwark against affliction. It wipes out conflict, is the work of angels, and is the nourishment of everything spiritual." John Climacus (c. 579-649) The Ladder of Divine Ascent was the most widely used handbook of the ascetic life in the ancient Greek Church. Popular among both lay and monastics, it was translated into Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Old Slavonic, and many modern languages. It was written while the author (who received his surname from this book) was abbot of the monastery of Catherine on Mount Sinai. As reflected in the title, the ascetical life is portrayed as a ladder which each aspirant must ascend, each step being a virtue to be acquired, or a vice to be surrendered. Its thirty steps reflect the hidden life of Christ himself. This work had a fundamental influence in the particularly the Hesychastic, Jesus Prayer, or Prayer of the Heart movement. Pierre Pourrat in his History of Christian Spirituality calls John Climacus the "most important ascetical theologian of the East, at this epoch, who enjoyed a great reputation and exercised and important influence on future centuries.

An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer and Selected Works


Origen - 1988
    Origen (c. 185-254) was born in Alexandria and lived through the turbulent years during the collapse of the Roman Empire.  Origen - An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, First Principles: Book IV, Prologue to the Commentary on the Song of Songs, Homily XXVII on Numbers - translation and introduction by Rowan A. Greer - preface by Hans Urs von Balthasar "Indeed, the soul is led by a heavenly love and desire when once the beauty and glory of the Word of God has been perceived; he falls in love with His splendor and by this receives from Him some dart and wound of love."Origen (c.—---254) Origen was born in Alexandria close to the end of the second century. His life spanned the turbulent years during the collapse of the Roman Empire. He sought to rescue and transform what was best of the Roman world and to translate the Christian spiritual quest into a language intelligible to the thoughtful and educated nonbeliever of his day. Origen is one of the first and most important of the Christian mystics, and many of the great themes of spiritual literature can be traced back to him. Von Balthasar, the eminent Swiss theologian, in his preface says of him, "As towering a figure as Augustine and Aquinas...his work is aglow with the fire of a Christian creativity which even in the greatest of his successors burned merely with a borrowed flame."The collected works in this volume represent the heart of Origen's spiritual vision. The translation and introduction is by Rowan A. Greer of the Yale Divinity School.

The Soul's Journey into God / The Tree of Life / The Life of St. Francis


Bonaventure - 1978
    Woodward Religion Editor of Newsweek Magazine in Publishers Weekly Bonaventure-The Soul's Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis translation and introduction by Ewert Cousins, preface by Ignatius Brady, O.F.M. "But if you wish to know how these things come about ask grace not instruction, desire not understanding, the groaning of prayer not diligent reading, the Spouse not the teacher, God not man, darkness not clarity, not light but the fire that totally enflames and carries us into God by ecstatic unctions and burning affections. This fire is God and his furnace is in Jerusalem..." Bonaventure, 1217-1274 Long before Bonaventure was called "The Prince of Mystics" by Leo XIII or "The Seraphic Doctor" by John Gerson, he was known throughout the Christian world as "The Devout Teacher." Professor Ewert Cousins says in his introduction, "In the history of Western Spirituality, Bonaventure holds a central and pivotal position. The 13th century friar, professor at the University of Paris, minister general of the Franciscan Order, cardinal and advisor to popes, played a major role in the spiritual ferment of the high Middle Ages...when Islamic, Jewish and Christian spirituality were flourishing-he produced one of the richest syntheses of Christian spirituality. Although cosmic in its scope, it was distinctively Christian in its content, grounded in the doctrine of the Trinity and devotion to the humanity of Christ. Within Christianity he achieved a striking integration of Eastern and Western elements." The three works contained in this volume offer the core of his vision. In The Soul's Journey into God, considered Bonaventure's masterpiece, he takes the six-winged Seraph as the symbol for the six stages of contemplation in which the created world is seen as a reflection of God. The Tree of Life is a simple meditation on the life of Jesus, "based on the Gospel accounts" in which "Christ is seen as the Tree of Life on whose branches blossom such virtues as humility, piety, patience, constancy and justice." The Life of St. Francis was the official biography commissioned by the Franciscan Order in 1260. The editor of this volume, Dr. Ewert Cousins, is Professor of Theology, Fordham University and Visiting Professor, Columbia University. He is Director of the Spirituality Graduate Program at Fordham. Ignatius Brady, O.F.M., who wrote the preface to this volume, is one of the world's leading authorities on Bonaventure and early Franciscan spirituality. He is Prefect of the Theology Section of the Franciscan research center, Collegio S. Bonaventura at Grottaferrata near Rome.

Catherine of Siena: The Dialogue (Classics of Western Spirituality)


Catherine of Siena
    This is a comprehensive attempt to make the spiritual tradition of large areas of mankind more generally accessible to the ordinary interested reader." A. M. Allchin in Church Times Catherine of Siena-The Dialogue translation and introduction by Suzanne Noffke, O.P., preface by Giuliana Cavallini "If you have received my love sincerely without self-interest, you will drink your neighbor's love sincerely. It is just like a vessel that you fill at the fountain. If you take it out of the fountain to drink, the vessel is soon empty. But if you hold your vessel in the fountain while you drink, it will not get empty: indeed, it will always be full." Catherine of Siena, 1347-1380 This is the crowning spiritual work of the only woman other than Teresa of Avila to be granted the title of Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church. This volume was simply called "my book" by the fourteenth-century Italian saint. The aim of her book (one of the first books to see print in Spain, Germany, Italy, and England), says Dr. Noffke in her Foreword, was "the instruction and encouragement of all those whose spiritual welfare was her concern." Catherine was "a mystic whose plunge into God plunged her deep into the affairs of society, Church and the souls who came under her influence." Professor Noffke goes on to call The Dialogue "a great tapestry to which Catherine adds stitch upon stitch until she is satisfied that she has communicated all she can of what she has learned of the way of God." In this, the sixth centenary of the great Dominican's death, we live in a time so badly in need of her sense of institutional reform as flowing from Divine truth, love and charity. Dr. Noffke says: "In the opening pages of The Dialogue Catherine presents a series of questions or petitions to God the Father each of which receives a response and amplification. There is the magnificent symbolic portrayal of Christ as the bridge. There are specific discussions of discernment, tears (true and false spiritual emotion), truth, the sacramental heart ('mystic body') of the Church, divine providence, obedience.... It is not so much a treatise to be read as it is a conversation to be entered into with earnest leisure and leisurely earnest.

The Spiritual Combat


Lorenzo Scupoli
    At first it teaches that the sense of life is incessant fighting against egoistic longings and replacing them with sacrifice and charity. The one who does not do this loses, and suffers in Hell; the one who does it, trusting not in his own, but God's power, triumphs and is happy in Heaven. The work of Scupoli analyses various usual situations and advises how to cope with them, preserving a pure conscience and improving virtue. It emphasizes also the boundless goodness of God, which is the cause of all good. What is bad originates from the human who rebels against God.

On the Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ: Selected Writings


St Maximus the Confessor - 2003
    St Maximus' two main collections of theological reflections-his Ambigua (or "Difficulties") and his Questions to Thalassius - plus one of his christological opuscula, hitherto unavailable in English, are accompanied by immensely helpful notes, and prefaced by a long, brilliant introduction to the theology of the Confessor.

Love in the Void: Where God Finds Us


Simone Weil - 2018
    S. Eliot, Charles De Gaulle, Pope Paul VI, and Adrienne Rich.The body of work she left--most of it published posthumously--is the fruit of an anguished but ultimately luminous spiritual journey.After her untimely death at age thirty-four, Simone Weil quickly achieved legendary status among a whole generation of thinkers. Her radical idealism offered a corrective to consumer culture. But more importantly, she pointed the way, especially for those outside institutional religion, to encounter the love of God - in love to neighbor, love of beauty, and even in suffering.

He and I


Gabrielle Bossis - 1969
    A timeless work in which the reader shares a touching and profound experience through the words Bossis heard in the depths of her being and recorded. He and I provides a joyous spiritual feast for all seekers of the One who seeks us out in our day-to-day life.

My Life in Christ: Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and of Peace in God: Extracts from the Diary of St. John of Kronstadt


John of Kronstadt - 1894
    It is a reflection of the profound spiritual experience and elevated theological reflection of its author, St. John of Kronstadt. Appropriate both for beginners in the spiritual life and for those more experienced, no one can come away from reading this work without profit. This is the kind of book you will return to time and time again. Appropriate, relevant, and edifying reading for all Christians.

The Prayers and Meditations of St. Anselm & The Proslogion


Anselm of Canterbury
    Anselm's ardor, literary brilliance, and scrupulous theology have secured him admiration. And, as Archbishop of Canterbury, his tussle with the early Norman kings earned him a place in secular history as well.

An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith


John of Damascus - 1998
    676 – 4 December 749) was an Arab Christian monk and priest. Born and raised in Damascus, he died at his monastery, Mar Saba, near Jerusalem.A polymath whose fields of interest and contribution included law, theology, philosophy, and music, before being ordained, he served as a Chief Administrator to the Muslim caliph of Damascus, wrote works expounding the Christian faith, and composed hymns which are still in everyday use in Eastern Christian monasteries throughout the world. The Catholic Church regards him as a Doctor of the Church, often referred to as the Doctor of the Assumption due to his writings on the Assumption of Mary.

St. Therese of Lisieux: Her Last Conversations


Thérèse de Lisieux - 1977
    Thrse of Lisieux during her last illness were living in the company of one of God's "greatest" saints, one prepared for our times. Fortunately for us they did not simply listen to her conversations, but wrote down what they remembered. This volume brings together their reports of Thrse's "final words" during her last months, including some of her most famous sayings, such as "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth." The book includes general and biblical index, with 12 photos.

The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton


Michael Mott - 1984
    New Afterword by the Author. Index; photographs.

Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings


Thomas Merton - 2001
    The Private MertonThis intensely personal book from the ultimate spiritual writer of our time shows his contemplative and devotional side through his prayers and rarely seen drawings.  Capturing the quiet epiphanies in the life of a Trappist monk who was a celebrated writer and activist, this volume offers a glimpse into a lesser-known side of this timeless explorer of the life of the soul.

The Life of Moses


Gregory of Nyssa
    Gregory of Nyssa This great spiritual master of the fourth century was born as the general persecution of Christians was ending. One of the Greek Cappadocian Fathers (the other two were Gregory's brother, St. Basil the Great, and their mutual friend, St. Gregory Nazianzen), Gregory has come to be regarded increasingly as the most brilliant and subtle thinker and most profound mystical teacher of the three. Whether or not one agrees with Jean Danielou who saw Gregory as the founder of mystical importance within the Christian tradition.The Life of Moses has special significance because it reflects Gregory's spiritual sense of the Scriptures. He maintained that the ultimate purpose of the Bible was not its historical teachings but its capacity for elevating the soul to God. Gregory saw the totality of the spiritual life as an epektasis, a continual growth or straining ahead, as in the words of St. Paul, Forgetting the past, I strain for what is still to come. Gregory frames an immensely significant synthesis of the earlier Hellenistic and Jewish traditions in this work. He describes the spiritual ascent as taking place in three stages, symbolized by the Lord's revelation of Himself to Moses, first in light, then in the cloud and, finally, in the dark. This translation and introduction, winner of the Christian Research Foundation Award, has been expertly rendered by Professors Abraham Malherbe of Yale University and Everett Ferguson of Abilene Christian University.