Book Review: Spiritual Masters for All Seasons

Written on: February 26, 2019

“As we were preparing to move from our Motherhouse, the library was being very carefully dismantled. In the process I became the fortunate recipient of a treasure that I only recently discovered.”

Following is a book review from Sister Diane Bardol:

In a small book of less than 200 pages by Michael Ford called Spiritual Masters for All Seasons, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Anthony de Mello, and John O’Donohue appear together as a formidable jazz quartet. The author says,

“in the world of jazz, four unique voices can come together to form a distinctive sound, with each of their instruments fulfilling a different role. As well as their ability to express their own voice, the players listen closely to other members of the quartet and are able to meld.

Michael Ford is himself the conductor of this quartet comparing, contrasting and highlighting each of these spiritual masters.

Thomas Merton was a man of God, constantly rediscovering God as he uncovered the mystery of his inner-self and the presence of God. He encouraged people to listen to their inner voice and not imitate the behavior of another.

For Henri Nouwen the core experience of Jesus was his baptism when he heard “You are my beloved on whom my favor rests.” Jesus’ whole life was about claiming that identity in the midst of everything. Nouwen’s counsel to his readers was to do likewise. Prayer was going back to our true identity and claiming it for ourselves. That’s faith and it requires contemplative discipline.

Anthony de Mello is an alarm clock for a world that, he says, has been lulled into unawareness. He calls his readers to get in touch with reality, to see life as it really is, not as we would have it be, thus eliminating the negativity of control. He proposes a four step guide to this wisdom.

John O’Donohue is described by the Irish spiritual singer, Noirin Ni Riain, as a “macrocosmological anthem.” His spirituality is very much in harmony with the cosmos and creation ecology.  Beauty, especially the beauty of the cosmos is always more than the senses can perceive. So beauty awakens the soul and the imagination and we begin to discover a whole new sense of God.

This gem of a book has much to offer anyone who is not totally familiar with these four Spiritual Masters for all seasons.

The book was published by Hidden Spring, 2009.

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