• Christian/Spiritual

 


The Seven Storey Mountain

An Autobiography of Faith

by Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) is arguably the most influential American Catholic author of the twentieth century. His autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain, has millions of copies and has been translated into over fifteen languages. He wrote over sixty other books and hundreds of poems and articles on topics ranging from monastic spirituality to civil rights, nonviolence, and the nuclear arms race. 

After a rambunctious youth and adolescence, Merton converted to Roman Catholicism and entered the Abbey of Gethsemani, a community of monks belonging to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (Trappists),the most ascetic Roman Catholic monastic order.  

I read this book, some 10 years ago, with a curiosity to understand the the makings of a Trappist Monk.  In reading, The Seven Storey Mountain, I found myself wanting to experience just a small bit of what he talked about, so I booked myself, as a guest, in a monastery for a week-long solo retreat.  I loved it and plan to do it again!

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Mother Teresa

Come Be My Light

Compiled and presented by Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C.,

During her lifelong service to the poorest of the poor, Mother Teresa became an icon of compassion to people of all religions; her extraordinary contributions to the care of the sick, the dying, and thousands of others nobody else was prepared to look after has been recognized and acclaimed throughout the world. Little is known, however, about her own spiritual heights or her struggles. This collection of her writing and reflections, almost all of which have never been made public before, sheds light on Mother Teresa's interior life in a way that reveals the depth and intensity of her holiness for the first time.

Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, M.C., who knew Mother Teresa for twenty years and is the postulator for her cause for sainthood and director of the Mother Teresa Center, Mother Teresa brings together letters she wrote to her spiritual advisors over decades. A moving chronicle of her spiritual journey - including moments, even years, of utter isolation.  

I really liked this book.  Reading about the struggles Mother Teresa experience towards the end of her life, helped me to better understand my own doubts and darkness.  

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A Little Book of forgiveness

Challenges & Meditations

by D. Patrick Miller

This highly-praised book of challenges and meditations encourages readers to think about forgiveness -- of others and themselves -- in new ways. The author's perspective is rooted in diverse spiritual traditions with a vision that is clear, compassionate, and transformational.

I read this book in the fall of 2007, when I desperately needed to forgive myself and others.  Using the seven-step process helped me to better understand my feelings and in the process, I began, to slowly, let go of anger and resentment that I had held onto for many years.  I keep this little gem on my bookshelf, so its available to me when I need it the most!  If you need some help forgiving, this might be the book for you.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer 

Selected Writings


Dietrich Bonhoeffer - theologian, pastor, martyr - is one of the most significant Christian witnesses of the twentieth century. His writings challenge us to address the presence of God in the world and history. His courageous resistance against Hitler, his imprisonment and execution dramatize "the cost of discipleship." These selections, with a poignant introduction by Robert Coles, provide a penetrating entry to the heart of Bonhoeffer's message.

I've been drawn to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's faith and strength every since I read this book.  He exemplifies what it is to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ, with the strength of his convictions to do what he feels called to do.  Amazing man!

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The Practice of the Presence of God

by Brother Lawrence

Brother Lawrence was a man of humble beginnings who discovered the greatest secret of living in the kingdom of God here on earth. It is the art of “practicing the presence of God in one single act that does not end.” He often stated that it is God who paints Himself in the depths of our souls. We must merely open our hearts to receive Him and His loving presence.

As a humble cook, Brother Lawrence learned an important lesson through each daily chore: The time he spent in communion with the Lord should be the same, whether he was bustling around in the kitchen—with several people asking questions at the same time—or on his knees in prayer. He learned to cultivate the deep presence of God so thoroughly in his own heart that he was able to joyfully exclaim, “I am doing now what I will do for all eternity. I am blessing God, praising Him, adoring Him, and loving Him with all my heart.”

I have read this book many times, with the desire to live in a deeper and daily relationship with God.  I have yet to succeed in this endeavor, but I will continue to work towards this beautiful way of living.

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The Cloister Walk

by Kathleen Norris

Why would a married woman with a thoroughly Protestant background and often more doubt than faith be drawn to the ancient practice of monasticism, to a community of celibate men whose days are centered on a rigid schedule of prayer, work, and scripture? This is the question that poet Kathleen Norris asks us as, somewhat to her own surprise, she found herself on two extended residencies at St. John's Abbey in Minnesota.

Part record of her time among the Benedictines, part meditation on various aspects of monastic life, The Cloister Walk demonstrates, from the rare perspective of someone who is both an insider and outsider, how immersion in the cloistered world-- its liturgy, its ritual, its sense of community-- can impart meaning to everyday events and deepen our secular lives. In this stirring and lyrical work, the monastery, often considered archaic or otherworldly, becomes immediate, accessible, and relevant to us, no matter what our faith may be.

The Cloister Walk offers food for the soul.  This book came at the right time in my life and lead me to spend a week at the New Clairvaux Monastery, in Vina, California.  

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One Thousand Gifts

A Dare to Live Fully, Right Were You Are

by Ann Voskamp

Just like you, Ann Voskamp hungers to live her one life well. Forget the bucket lists that have us escaping our everyday lives for exotic experiences. 'How,' Ann wondered, 'do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does the Christ-life really look like when your days are gritty, long--and sometimes even dark? How is God even here?'

In One Thousand Gifts, Ann invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. It's only in this expressing of gratitude for the life we already have, we discover the life we've always wanted...a life we can take, give thanks for, and break for others. We come to feel and know the impossible right down in our bones: we are wildly loved--by God. Let Ann's beautiful, heart-aching stories of the everyday give you a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of being present to God that makes you deeply happy, and a way of living that is finally fully alive. Come live the best dare of all!

After reading One Thousand Gifts, I began my own journal of all the gifts God gives.  I remember sitting at my kitchen table, watching the sunlight dance across the floor and feeling so grateful for that small gift, which wasn't small at all.

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Six Hours on Friday

Anchoring to the Power of the Cross

by Max Lucado

There is a truth greater than all the losses and sorrows of life. And it can be discovered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado delves into the meaning of Jesus' last hours on the cross. Through his death, your life has purpose and meaning. You are forgiven and loved by a Savior who died for you. And an empty tomb proclaims that death does not have the final word.

"Peace where there should be pain. Confidence in the midst of crisis. Hope defying despair. "Does death have the last word?" I can see Jesus wink as he gives the answer, "Not on your life.""

This book gave me the chills several times. It is a short and easy read, but it says so much.  "My life is not futile.  My failures are not fatal.  My death is not final." 

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Celebration of Discipline

The Path to Spiritual Growth

by Richard J. Foster

Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth is hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality with millions of copies sold since its original publication in 1978.

In Celebration of Discipline, Foster explores the "classic Disciplines," or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith to show how each of these areas contribute to a balanced spiritual life.

Foster, the bestselling author of several books (Prayer and Streams of Living Water) and intrachurch movement founder of Renovaré, helps motivate Christians everywhere to embark on a journey of prayer and spiritual growth.

I read this book several years ago, but re-read in the last couple of years.  I'm deeply moved by the spiritual disciplines. "Spiritual disciplines are “the means God uses to build in us an inner person that is characterized by peace and joy and freedom.”  I am a work in progress.

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Plain and Simple

A Journey to the Amish

by Sue Bender

Her journey begins in a New York men's clothing store. There she is spellbound by the vibrant colors and stunning geometric simplicity of the Amish quilts "spoke directly to me," writes Bender. Somehow, "they went straight to my heart."

Heeding a persistent inner voice, Bender searches for Amish families willing to allow her to visit and share in there daily lives. Plain and Simple vividly recounts sojourns with two Amish families, visits during which Bender enters a world without television, telephone, electric light, or refrigerators; a world where clutter and hurry are replaced with inner quiet and calm ritual; a world where a sunny kitchen "glows" and "no distinction was made between the sacred and the everyday."

I have been intrigued with the Amish every since I visited their community many years ago.  I wanted to understand how they lived and found joy in the little things.  Plain and Simple sparked a desire to visit once again.

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