Today’s the official publication date for a book I curated (that seems to be the best way to describe it), A Year with the Mystics. Part of my prayer for it is that it demystifies mysticism a little bit. For purposes of the book, mysticism is union with God. Which doesn’t necessarily mean complete union, or anything too exotic. It’s simply Divine though — communication.
And I wouldn’t have put this book together if it weren’t for Bill Buckley. In his Nearer, My God, he talks about an Italian mystic whose writings about the Passion of Christ helped his faith. A Year with the Mystics is 365 meditations from the great treasury of saints and other prayerful people that I pray help readers dive deeper into the Christian life.
Prayer is a real power we have. Spend time with God, and He may make a lot of things clear. Spend time with God, and He may bring a peace to your heart. Spend time with God and be awed by His love — do this, and it’s going to be harder not to live your life in thanksgiving, reflecting His love. Spend time with God in reparation for evil we do, and that surrounds us. Spend time with God in solidarity with the suffering.
The book has some of your more traditional mystics — great teachers of spirituality like John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, for example. It also has some people who are more identified with works of mercy — action in the world — like Mother Teresa and John Paul II. Mother Angelica is in there. She started a religious community and a TV network/ministry and couldn’t have done any of it without knowing God well. I even include a few people who are alive in the world, like Fr. Donald Haggerty, whose homilies at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are like a door opening to Heaven to let us see in. (And because I hope that introduces people to some of his books, like Conversion, which are great gifts.)
I didn’t plan to have my name on A Year with the Mystics. It’s the latest volume in a series from Saint Benedict’s Press I’ve been benefitting from for years. After interviewing one of the authors/curators of one of the books (I think it was A Year with the Saints), I announced: “you guys should really do A Year with the Mystics.” At the time, I happened to be carrying around ridiculous amounts of meditations in my purse (The Classics of Western Spirituality series from Paulist Press is a favorite of mine, as are the four-volume set of Saint Catherine of Siena’s letters translated by Sr. Suzanne Noffke, O.P.). For years, I would pull out meditations from old issues of Magnificat (it’s a monthly missal with the Mass readings and meditations and beautiful art, among other things). So, when they talked me into doing it, it put my bad habits to better use and now I can keep one volume in my purse instead of 365 for some prayer prompts! (It’s also available for Kindle at a much lower price and adds no weight to your daily life. You might even find it lightens your load in many ways . . . .)
A Year with the Mystics is a book I wanted to exist so that I could give it to other people. If it didn’t have my name on it, it would be my go-to Christmas gift for people. At a time where people famously describe themselves as spiritual not religious, “mysticism” can be attractive for the freedom presumed. Once you take a peek at A Year with the Mystics, you see it taps into tradition and holy men and women who prayed well. They spent time with God and their prayer continues to bear fruit. The meditations point to the Trinity and Divine love.
Here’s the book trailer:
And here’s my friend Grazie Christie opening her copy (cracks me up):
— Grazie P Christie MD (@GChristiemd) September 17, 2019
God bless you! Pray well!