Four routes to the ultimate destination
If you're seeking to add a new dimension to your spiritual life, here's a quick introduction to some of the most time-honored rich spiritual traditions around.
Basic focus: "Finding God in all things." Ongoing discernment that calls its followers to recognize good and choose it over evil, and to experience the presence of God in all creation. All that we do should focus on seeking and serving the greater glory of God.
Spiritual practices: Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, examen of consciousness.
Saints: Ignatius of Loyola, Francis Xavier, Aloysius Gonzaga.
Books: The Art of Discernment by Stefan Kiechle (Ave Maria Press, 2005)
The Sevenfold Yes by Willi Lambert (2005)
Seek the Face of God by Karl Frielingsdorf (2006)
Summoned at Every Age by Peter van Breemen (2005)
Basic focus: "Pray and work." Always take time to pray each day, but a person's daily work is a form of prayer, too, when it's done with one's mind to God.
Spiritual practices: Lectio divina (divine reading), the Liturgy of the Hours.
Saints: Benedict of Nursia, Scholastica (Benedict's twin sister), Hildegard of Bingen.
Laypeople: Those who take vows and have a relationship with a nearby monastery are called oblates.
Books: The Rule of Benedict: Insights for the Ages by Joan Chittister, O.S.B. (Crossroad, 1992).
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today, by Joan Chittister, OSB (HarperSan Francisco, 1990)
Basic focus: A contemplative lifestyle lived in community.
Spiritual practices: Contemplative or mental prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours.
Saints: Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux, Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein).
Laypeople: Secular order or third order Carmelites make promises, not vows, and often meet at nearby Carmelite monasteries to pray together and study the works of Carmelite saints and authors.
Books: Carmelite Prayer: A Tradition for the 21st Century, by Keith J. Egan (Paulist Press, 2003).
God in Ordinary Time: Carmelite Reflections on Everyday Life, by the Carmelites of Indianapolis (2001) Available through the community's Web site, praythenews.com
Basic focus: Prayer, love for, and service to the poor.
Spiritual practices: Direct service to the poor, the Liturgy of the Hours, collaborating with local and international social justice efforts.
Saints: Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, Bonaventure.
Laypeople: Secular Franciscans, or members of the third order of Franciscans, make a public profession and live according to the spirit of the gospel as lived by St. Francis of Assisi.
Books: The Humility of God: A Franciscan Perspective by Ilia Delio, O.S.F. (St. Anthony Messenger, 2005).
Hope against Darkness: The Spirit of Francis in an Age of Anxiety, by Richard Rohr and John Bookser Feister , OFM ( St. Anthony Messenger, 2001)