I mentioned in a previous screen that the most important resource you can avail yourself in a spiritual journey is a spiritual director. To help you locate one, click here. Below are other resources that might be useful. These represent a mere sampling of what’s available. New titles appear all the time. New websites are developed. From time to time, I will try to update this page, but the resources described here are perennially reliable.
Every spiritual director and every person involved in a regular spiritual practice will have his or her own list of favourite books to which they return over and over. The following list is a “work in progress,” and reflects my spiritual and theological orientation. Help me add to it by submitting your personal favourites! Just post a comment on this site and provide the publisher’s details as well as a brief paragraph on what this book means to you.
On spiritual practices in general:
Foster, Richard Celebration of Discipline. The Path to Spiritual Growth, 1978. (Rev 1998) Harper San Francisco
This is the original study on spiritual practices, written by a Quaker, in the mid-seventies. Since then it has been revised and re-issued. Since then, many more books on spiritual practices and the return to ancient practices have appeared, some of which are listed below.
Taylor, Barbara Brown An Altar in the World. 2009. HarperOne
A wonderfully warm and personal book about one clergy’s exploration of spiritual practices in daily life.
Butler Bass, Diana Christianity for the Rest of Us. 2006, HarperOne.
This book summarizes Butler Bass’s research on the characteristics of “vital” congregations in the US. Her findings indicate that churches which take spiritual practices seriously seem to thrive.
Bass, Dorothy (ed.) Practicing our Faith, 1997, Jossey Bass
Bass is one of the directors of the Valparaiso Project, also called “Practicing our Faith.” A wide range of authors are constantly producing material on a number of ancient spiritual practices and providing ways for making these practices accessible to individuals and congregations alike.
McLaren, Brian Finding our Way Again. The Return of the Ancient Practices.2008, Thomas Nelson
McLaren is one of the bright lights in the “emerging church” movement in the US. His book is the first in a series, edited by Phyllis Tickle on ancient practices.Very readable and very convincing!
On meditation and contemplation in particular:
Fowler, George Learning to Dance Inside. Getting to the Heart of Meditation. 1996 Harcourt Brace.
This delightfully simple and very personal book provides a very easy introduction to the practice of meditation, by a former Trappist monk.
Taylor, Brian C. Becoming Christ. Transformation Through Contemplation, 2002, Cowley Publications.
An excellent introduction to the contemplative practices and how they fit in to congregational life, and how congregational life benefits from the contemplative.
Merton, Thomas New Seeds of Contemplation 1961, New Directions
Written by a Trappist monk, this is a classic introduction to the contemplative life. Not a book to read quickly or just once, this is a volume to keep by your bedside and return to over and over.
Nhat Hanh, Thich The Miracle of Mindfulness 1975 Beacon Press
If you wish an introduction to the Buddhist tradition of meditation, almost any book by this author will do. They are all good.
On Ignatian spirituality:
Linn, Dennis, Sheila F., & Matthew Good Goats. Healing Our Image of God. 1994. Paulist Press; also Sleeping with Bread. Holding What Gives you Life.1995, Paulist Press.
The Linns have written a series of simple, well-illustrated books on various aspects of spirituality, influenced by the Ignatian tradition. Most of these constitute excellent introductions to this type of spirituality.
Muldoon, Tim. The Ignatian Workout. Daily Exercises for a Healthy Faith. 2004, Loyola Press.
Modelled after popular physical exercise do-it-yourself fitness books, this provides, indeed, an excellent “workout” in Ignatian spiritual practices.
Barry, Wm A. SJ Finding God in All Things. A Companion to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. 1999 Ave Maria Press.
If you’re curious about the famous “Spiritual Exercises” of Ignatius of Loyola, but aren’t quite ready for the time commitment, this introduction to the thinking behind the exercises might be a good place to start.
De Mello, Anthony SJ Sadhana. A Way to God. Christian Exercises in Eastern Form. 1984 Doubleday Image Books.
An excellent marriage of East and West, with a strong Ignatian tradition, this is one of de Mello’s many excellent books on spiritual disciplines. De Mello was a Indian Jesuit retreat director whose unique combination of Eastern mysticism with the Ignatian tradition made him both popular and suspect among the more conservative. An excellent set of exercises!
If you wish to explore Ignatian spirituality a bit further – and especially the famous “Spiritual Exercises in Daily Life” (sometimes known as “Annotation 19”) click here.
1. Pray-as-You-Go This is a website developed by the British Jesuits and provides daily ten-minute meditations on-line or downloadable in mp3 format.
2. Sacred Space This website is maintained by the Irish Jesuits and provides a daily ten-minute onscreen meditation, along with a wide range of useful resources.
3. “Orientations” The material on this website was originally developed by John Veltri, SJ, one of the founders of Guelph’s Ecumenical Week of Guided Prayer. It contains a wealth of material to enrich your prayer life.
4. Creighton University This website offers an on-line experience of the Ignatian Exercises in Daily Life.
5. SpiritHome: This website contains a wide range of materials for anyone seriously engaged in the spiritual journey. (LINK)
3. Community resources (Guelph area)
1. Loyola House:
A retreat centre just north of Guelph, ON, run by the Jesuits, it offers individual as well as group retreats and the complete Ignatian “Spiritual Exercises.”
2. Five Oaks:
A retreat centre run by the United Church of Canada, south east of Paris, ON, Five Oaks offers workshops as well as week-end silent retreats. It also offers “Days Away”, a time of peace, silence and recollection, on the first Wednesday of each month. (LINK)
3. Crief Hills:
A retreat centre just south of Morriston, ON, run by the Presbyterian Church, it offers excellent facilities for self-run group retreats as well as a hermitage for personal silent retreats. (LINK)
4. Eramosa Eden:
A retreat centre near Eden Mills, a few kilometres east of Guelph, ON, focussing on an “eco-ecumenical” approach. It offers a range of workshops along with the possibility of self-guided retreats. (LINK)
5. The Guelph Ecumenical Guild of Ignatian Spiritual Direction:
This is an informal professional association of spiritual directors trained in the Ignatian tradition, all residing in the Guelph, ON area. Each year it offers an “Ecumenical Week of Guided Prayer” to introduce people to meditation and the spiritual disciplines.
6. The Ignatian School of Spirituality
Loyola House, along with a number of community Ignatian spiritual directors, has created this “school” to offer workshops on various forms of Ignatian spirituality.
In Buddhism, a “sangha” is a community of practice, which teaches Buddhist meditation practice and provides a supportive environment for those – Buddhist or not – who are interested in the practice.
8. Harcourt Covenanted Spiritual Companions:
Harcourt Memorial United Church in Guelph has covenanted six trained spiritual directors to provide, in consort with the church’s Spiritual Life Committee, a range of programs and supports to individuals and groups wishing to deepen their spiritual life.