Monday 23 December 2019

A Year With the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living - Kathryn Jean Lopez

A Year With the Mystics:
Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Saint Benedict Press
TAN Books
ISBN 9781505109047
eISBN 9781505109054

The Mystics have always fascinated me, and yet I have approached them with a little hesitation. Since I did a fourth year Seminar Course at Saint Jerome’s University that had a strong influence from mystics, I have desired to learn more. But had not found the right book. I am very familiar with ‘A Year with’ series from Saint Benedict Press. I have read selections from a few of the other volumes. This book like others in the series 365 numbered reflections. But they are not tied to days of the year. You can pick up the book and start it at any point in the year. A sample meditation is:

Day 24

So brilliant a light

We are the light of the world. Time with God makes it possible in all of life. This is the journey. This is the Christian life.

Now the Spirit is not brought into intimate association with the soul by local approximation.… Only then after a man is purified from the shame whose stain he took through his wickedness.… Shining upon those that are cleansed from every spot, he makes them spiritual by fellowship with himself. Just as when a sunbeam falls on bright and transparent bodies, they themselves become brilliant, too, and shed forth a fresh brightness from themselves, so souls wherein the Spirit dwells, illuminated by the Spirit, themselves become spiritual, and send forth their grace to others. Hence comes foreknowledge of the future, understanding of mysteries, apprehension of what is hidden, distribution of good gifts, the heavenly citizenship, a place in the chorus of angels, joy without end, abiding in God, the being made like to God, and, highest of all, the being made God.
—Saint Basil, On the Holy Spirit

Do I think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit regularly and how much deeper I want to grow in them? [For confirmed Catholics:] Can people tell that I was confirmed?

Be the breath of my life, Holy Spirit. Lead me, guide me, infuse me with your gifts. I want to breathe you in and out until my last breath.”

But I am not sure I would classify all the sections as being by mystics. But I would consider most of them either mystics or visionaries. But No matter how you classify them, the selections in this volume will encourage and challenge you in your spiritual life. The book was not exactly what I was expecting, at least in the selections. I was surprised to find offerings from the pens of Blasé Pascal, Evelyn Underhill, And a few other surprises. Also, many of the meditation texts are taken from Scriptures. And yet even with that being said it is an excellent volume.

The book can be read from beginning to end. It can be flipped open to any day and read. Or you can pursue the subjects and pick and choose. Reading this volume has inspired me to go back and reread some of the others in the series. I especially appreciate the last two sections each day: In God’s Presence, Consider and Closing Prayer. Many of the prayers have stuck with me through out the day or even for a few days.

A good book in a great series. I am sure if you use it for personal devotions you will be challenged, and your life changed. And as much as I am an eBook guy the physical editions are beautiful books. And the leather version will last for years of use.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Other books by Kathryn Jean Lopez:
A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living
Standing Athwart a Culture of Death: A National Review Pro-Life Reader (Editor)
How to Defend the Faith without Raising Your Voice: Civil Responses to Catholic Hot Button Issues (with Austen Ivereigh)

Other books in the ‘A Year with’ Series:
A Year with Mary: Daily Meditations on the Mother of God - Paul Thigpen
A Year with the Angels: Daily Meditations with the Messengers of God -  Mike Aquilina
A Year with the Bible: Scriptural Wisdom for Daily Living - Patrick Madrid
A Year with The Church Fathers: Patristic Wisdom for Daily Living - Mike Aquilina
A Year with the Eucharist: Daily Meditations on the Blessed Sacrament - Paul Jerome Keller OP
A Year with the Mystics: Visionary Wisdom for Daily Living - Kathryn Jean Lopez
A Year with the Saints: Daily Meditations With the Holy Ones of God - Paul Thigpen

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