What Richard Foster and Dallas Willard were to my generation – prime tour guides to the spiritual life – I hope and believe Carl McColman will be for the next generation. If you don’t know about him and his work, you should.
Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is the newest book from Christian contemplative author Carl McColman. It 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. 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.
Befriending Silence: Discovering the Gifts of Cistercian Spirituality explores the spirituality of Cistercian monasteries, based on Carl’s experience as a Lay Cistercian, under the spiritual guidance of Trappist monks. For centuries the deeply contemplative and mystical spirituality of the monasteries was only accessible to the monks and nuns who devoted their lives to this ancient way of life. But in the years following the Vatican II council, the beautiful spirituality of the Cistercian path, grounded in values such as silence, stability, humility, lifelong conversion, and compassion, has been made available to the entire people of God like never before. In Befriending Silence Carl offers a step-by-step introduction to the beauty and simplicity of the Cistercian way, making this deeply spiritual wisdom tradition accessible to anyone who would like to be inspired to find their own closer walk with God. Each chapter of the book includes questions for personal reflection or group discussion, and a spiritual exercise designed to make the wisdom of the Cistercians come alive for the serious seeker.
Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path invites you to reflect on the steps anyone can take to begin (or deepen) a regular spiritual practice. Informed by the wisdom of the great Christian mystics, this accessible and user-friendly book illustrates how wisdom from the past can be relevant to seekers today. The mystical life is a life of transformation, and this book celebrates how responding to the desire for a closer sense of God’s presence — the “contemplative call” — means entering into a God-centered process that truly can change us forever. Christian author and activist Brian D. McLaren praised the book, saying “What Frommers, Rick Steves, and Lonely Planet are to travel guides for physical locales, Carl McColman is fast becoming for the spiritual journey. There is so much that recommends this delightful guide — Carl’s own depth of experience, his wonderful ability to bring in apt quotations from the great contemplative saints of history, his ability to be both simple and deep without ever becoming simplistic or murky. As I read, I kept thinking of friends with whom I want to share this treasure — a travel guide to an adventurous journey that will last forever.”
The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality looks at one of the most misunderstood aspects of Christian spirituality: the mystical tradition, a wisdom lineage which stresses the love of God for humanity created in the Divine image and likeness — a tradition of prayer, meditation and contemplation, in which the mystery of Divine Love leads to the splendor of enlightenment, personal and social transformation, and spiritual joy. But what is mysticism, and why is it not more commonly spoken of in Christian circles? In the 20th century an eminent Catholic theologian named Karl Rahner famously said, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” In The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, author Carl McColman reflects on what Rahner could mean — and how mystical spirituality could be a blessing not just for saints or nuns and monks, but for all Christians, and indeed for anyone interested in profound spiritual transformation. Caroline Myss calls this book “a masterpiece of scholarship and wisdom,” while Anglican author Cynthia Bourgeault calls it “a wise and supportive guidebook for those going deeper on the Christian mystical path… what makes it sing is the authenticity of the author’s own contemplative journey.”
The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader: Spiritual Lessons from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia celebrates how teaching about the Christian contemplative life is “encoded” within the pages of one of C. S. Lewis’s most charming books, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (in the beloved Narnia series). Lewis built his illuminating story — of a ship sailing through enchanted waters to the very end of the world — around the key elements of the Christian life: baptism, communion, struggling against injustice and temptation, and (as the story progresses) moving into deeper wisdom teachings centered around the experience of silence, the encounter with darkness, and finally, the breathtaking splendor of enlightenment. Eventually the Dawn Treader sails beyond a place where the stars sing, into a luminous world of wonders presided over by Aslan, the Divine Lover. Carl McColman’s The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader helps readers of all ages to discern the often subtle spiritual teachings found within Lewis’s charming (and deceptively simple) story. Popular Catholic author James Martin, SJ, praises this book and its author: “By turns playful, provocative and profound, McColman asks us to ‘become like little children’ in order to understand some very adult lessons.”
366 Celt: A Year and a Day of Celtic Wisdom and Lore offers the reader a series of daily meditations grounded in Celtic spirituality, written in an inclusive way that can speak to everyone — you don’t have to have Celtic ancestry to enjoy this book. Written in 2004, it represents the culmination of years of study into both Christian and pre-Christian dimensions of Celtic spirituality. The wisdom of the Celts is poetic, mythic, celebratory, and mystical in the best sense of the word. It seamlessly weaves together insights from what the Irish Benedictine monk Seán Ó Duinn calls the “three streams” of neolithic, mythical, and Christian dimensions of wisdom. The result: a truly inclusive, hope-filled, and inspirational series of meditations, rooted in the mysteries of the Spirit, a reverence for nature, and compassion for humanity. This book is written in such a way that it serves beautifully as a daily devotional, but works just as well as an introductory guidebook to Celtic mysticism.
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