Here are a few resources that you might consider consulting in conjunction with your spiritual journey. As I read new books, I add titles to this list. If you have suggestions that I might include, please let me know:
Bourgeault, Cynthia. Encountering the Wisdom Jesus. In this book, Episcopal priest and writer, Bourgeault, provides background and skills for retrieving the spiritual fire that Jesus offered. She discusses a variety of topics including Centering prayer, kenosis (emptying), parables, Jesus as tantric master.
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. In Lent 2017 I followed these reflections as part of my Lenten disciplines. So much of Lenten material is un-surprising. But, Brueggemann, an Old Testament scholar, brings a fresh, contemporary regard to this liturgical season that is heavily accented with social justice. For the entire Lenten period I looked forward to Brueggemann's thoughts.
Burrows, Ruth. Before the Living God. This Carmelite nun reflects on her life and on the rare moments when she connected with God in prayer. This is a good book for those who keep at spiritual practices in spite of long periods of dryness.
Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us. If you are exploring different Christian practices that will enrich your spiritual life, this is the go-to volume. Accessible descriptions of many traditional and non-traditional practices are presented with reflection questions and additional resources. Suggestions are included on how to use this book in small groups.
Cannato, Judy. Radical Amazement: Contemplative Lessons from Black Holes, Supernovas and Other Wonders of the Universe. A stimulating exploration of how the new cosmology impacts Christian faith.
Chodron, Pema. How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind. Written by internationally acclaimed Zen Buddhist nun, this book is a very concrete manual for being totally awake and mindful through the practice of meditation. While reading this book, you might want to take a look at the February 3, 2014 issue of Time which runs a feature/cover article on "The Mindful Revolution: The Science of Finding Focus in a Stressed-out, Multitasking Culture" by Kate Pickert. The article describes how meditation is being used in a wide variety of business and other settings where the term "spiritual" is never used.
Conroy, Maureen. Growing in Love and Freedom: Personal Experiences of Counseling and Spiritual Direction. What is the difference between spiritual direction and counseling? In what ways are they similar? How do spiritual directors know when to refer someone to counseling? Do counseling and direction ever come into conflict with each other? When people are going for both at the same time, how can these two experiences complement each other and help people to grow in love and freedom? Based on a case study approach, Maureen Conroy, RSM, DMin, offers this handbook to both seeker and director. Order from: Upper Room Spiritual Center, 3455 West Bangs Avenue, Bldg 2, Neptune, NJ 07753 732-922-0550
The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks. These sayings are available in a number of translations but I prefer the paperback Penguin Edition.
Forward Movement Publishers, St. Augustine's Prayer Book. This is a compilation of traditional devotional sources for individuals in the Anglo-Catholic tradition. The book is meant to compliment the Book of Common Prayer. Among the resources are devotions for use during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, rosary suggestions (including the Mysteries), beautiful healing prayers, materials for the Rite of Reconciliation. In a format that will fit into a back pocket of jeans or in a purse, this is a wonderful resource for those looking to deepen their prayer life.
Frankl, Viktor E. Man's Search for Meaning. Holocaust survivor Frankl describes his experience with living meaningfully in even the bleakest of circumstances.
Frye, Velma. This composer of contemporary music of faith and awareness offers works that are especially appropriate when paired with texts from Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr (see below). I am especially fond of the companion CD to Wiederkehr's Seven Sacred Pauses as well as another recent release, Take Heart. Visit this composer at http://www.velmafrye.com
John of the Cross, Dark Night of the Soul. The dark night of the spirit is followed by God's love and union with God. A much beloved classic. Buy the Dover Thrift Edition http://www.doverpublications.com
Kelsey, Morton. Dreams: A Way to Listen to God. This little book, easy to read in a sitting or two, assists readers in hearing God's voice through the dreams we all have. A great introduction to dreamwork.
Kidd, Sue Monk. When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions. Influenced by traditional Christian sources (Teresa de Avila, Hildegaard, Kierkegaard) and modern voices, especially Carl Jung, this important novelist probes her own life in light of inner falseness and truth. A very engaging book and a real spiritual page turner.
Kujawa-Holbrook, Sheryl A. Pilgrimage--the Sacred Art: Journey to the Center of the Heart. Maybe if you saw "The Way" with Martin Sheen you have thought about taking a pilgrimage or mini-pilgrimage, even if it is not as ambitious as walking the Santiago de Compostela. This is a useful and well-written guide for persons of various spiritual cultures who want the pilgrimage experience.
Kushner, Harold S. When Bad Things Happen to Good People. A rabbi's own true story of the death of his child results in the realization that no one is exempt from loss. But how do you deal with loss? A contemporary best-seller.
Laird, Martin. A Sunlit Absence: Silence, Awareness, and Contemplation. This is the best work I know of for developing skills and perspectives for a contemplative life. It lavishly references the Desert contemplatives and others throughout Christian history who have struggled in their spiritual lives . . . including stories of average persons today who are on the path of awareness. It is a realistic work that takes into account contemporary dilemmas and situations. At the end there is even a chapter of frequently asked questions. One of these has to do with non-discursive prayer and petition prayer.
Lamott, Anne. Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Written in an engaging and sometimes humorous way, this is the one book I recommend to all who don't think they can pray (as well as to some who think they know what it is all about!). Lamott's view is that praying can be simpler and should be simpler than many persons think.
Lauridsen, Morten. Mr. Lauridsen is a prolific American composer of liturgical and contemplative music--an article in the Wall Street Journal calls him the "best composer you've never heard of." Yet he is highly performed and may be the only mystical composer in America today. To hear samplings of his work just go to http://www.youtube.com and enter his name. Many wonderful and spiritually enhancing recordings will come up. I am very fond of a Naxos American Classics CD 8.559304 titled "Morten Lauridsen Choral Works" with the Elora Festival Singers and including beautiful renditions of O nata lux, Madrigali, Les Chansons des Roses, Mid-Winter Songs and O magnum mysterium.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Silence: A Christian History. This is billed as a provocative history of silence in Christianity. Among other topics, silence in Jewish and Christian traditions and in classical antiquity; silences around grand ethical issues; roots of silence or noise in monasticism and Western Christianity and the Eastern church. Helpful in giving perspective on practices of silence that are often favored in spiritual direction.
McKnight, Scot. Fasting. A spiritual practice that was central in Biblical times is commended by this Chicago theological professor as important to contemporary Christians.
Merton, Thomas. A Book of Hours. A book of hours for those who want to pray the Divine Office with Merton, many quotations and reflections from Merton skillfully arranged. Check out also his classics: Contemplative Prayer and Thoughts in Solitude. Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton is a DVD and accompanying book by the same title. The DVD was produced for PBS.. Another highly acclaimed DVD is Merton: A Film Biography, which also includes "Remembering Thomas Merton" by the Thomas Merton Foundation. All of these Merton materials are available from Amazon.
Mulholland Jr., M. Robert. Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation (expanded by Ruth Halley Barton). This is an intro to Christian spirituality drawing on classical texts, scripture, theological reflection and personality theory. This volume should be especially valuable to persons embarking on a monastic journey as vowed members of traditional orders or non-residential monastic communities.
Norris, Kathleen. Cloister Walk. A Midwestern Presbyterian writer discovers the disciplines, challenges, beauty and satisfaction of monastic practice. This book has been influential in the recent resurgence of lay monasticism and the New Monasticism. If you like Norris' writing you may wish to read her more recent Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life.
Oliver, Mary. Why I Wake Early and Evidence. Oliver is a favorite poet of spiritual directors. She speaks with New England directness. She celebrates above all nature in its many manifestations.
Rohr, Richard. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Well-known Franciscan Rohr discusses spirituality that enriches the last half of life. Recently, Fr. Rohr has issued another important book whose title speaks for itself: Immortal Diamond: the Search for Our True Self.
Sacks, Oliver. Gratitude. This slim book, was on the New York Times book list for many weeks, summarizes in compact form the thoughts about life, death and values that the world renowned neurologist wanted to convey to the world in the months prior to his death in August 2015. Born and raised Jewish, Dr. Sacks did not actively embrace a life of religious practice as an adult. Yet, his writings are deeply spiritual in all ways.
Schroeder, Daniel D. Reclaiming Eden: Taming the Serpent Ego available at http://www.amazon.com or Westview Inc. www.publishedbywestview.com The Founder and Guardian of the Community of the Gospel uses Biblical materials for describing how the authentic life of the spirit develops.
Singh, Helen Dowling. The Grace in Aging: Awaken As You Grow Older. In elegant yet hard-hitting prose, Singh makes clear that the seventh decade (and hopefully previous decades) of life is a time to leave self behind through mindfulness and practices of moral and spiritual intent. She uses the wonderful noun "selfing" to describe how we have been trained and programmed since birth. The book is especially rich in Buddhist sources but Singh draws on all of the major world faith traditions. If you want to awaken (while there is still time) this book can be a wonderful guide.
Steindl-Rast, Br. David. A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness. The renowed Benedictine monk and hermit develops his contention that "any sensuous experience is at heart a spiritual one: a divine revelation."
Thompson, Marjorie J. Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. This book describes the many spiritual practices that are within reach of any person wishing to develop the inner life. Some of the practices such as beads and rule of faith may be new to some Protestants. All the more reason to read it!
The Way of the Pilgrim. This is the story of a rural man in 19th century Russia who sets off on a journey armed with the prayer of the heart or the Jesus prayer. Read it and discover the Jesus prayer for yourself. Available in many editions but I prefer the Skylight edition translated from the Russian by Gleb Pokrovsky.
Wiederkehr, Macrina. Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day. If you keep the Divine Office as part of your spiritual practice, you will appreciate the traditionally grounded fresh texts offered by a Benedictine sister.
Wilson-Hartgrove, Jonathan. Widsom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. We are constantly encouraged to be on the move, to multi-task, to change work and living settings. Wilson-Hartgrove celebrates the monastic mark of stability, probing it for the spiritual strength it offers.
Winfrey, Oprah. DVD Series: Belief. Oprah takes a global look at faith in its many manifestations focusing on six themes: The Seekers, Love's Story, Acts of Faith, A Change Is Gonna Come, God Help Us, the Practice, a Good Life. The images are breathtaking and the many stories are compelling and cause viewers to examine their own beliefs and spirituality.
Winner, Lauren F. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis. Winnen describes her struggle with faith issues in an engaging, readable and sometimes humorous way.
"Finding the next step on the spiritual journey . . . . . ."