Martha Ainsworth

Contemplative Spirituality: a Guide

a collection of various resources on contemplative spirituality

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A Note On Terminology: Contemplative spirituality was once called “Christian mysticism.” The word “mysticism” was intended to convey the sense that humanity cannot fully understand God; God is a “mystery.” Unfortunately, fundamentalists and others have now co-opted the word “mysticism” and use it to describe occult practices. Such things have never been an element of Christian mysticism. The classic tradition of Christian mysticism is unrelated to the paranormal or occult; it involves no secret knowledge, no divination, no special powers, and nothing outside the Bible. It is 100% orthodox Christianity. Christian mysticism, also called contemplative spirituality, is a way of focusing one’s life completely on God, through prayer, living in love, and an awareness of God’s presence. To avoid misunderstanding, what was once called “Christian mysticism” is now more frequently referred to as “contemplative spirituality.”

Mysticism is nothing more or less than a love-driven way of knowing God, that is centered in direct, immediate experience of God’s presence—as contrasted with the efforts of our minds to think through, capture, and describe the object of our belief in clear language, theological subtlety, or scientific precision....

“A mystic,” Peers wrote, “is a person who has fallen in love with God. We are not afraid of lovers—no indeed, all the world loves a lover. They attract us by their ardor, their single-mindedness, their yearning to be one with the object of their love.”

Mysticism is a way of living that makes this consciousness of God’s presence the shaping context, the compelling energy of our lives.

John Kirvan, God Hunger


Basic Books: Essentials


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