Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages celebrates the many types of mystics, visionaries, wisdom keepers, and non-dualists whose spiritual insight and perceptive teachings have illuminated the Christian tradition for the past two thousand years. Looking at 108 mystics from Biblical times to the present day, this user-friendly guide shows how the spiritual masters of the western tradition provide a variety of paths into the transforming heart of God.
Everyone needs teachers and companions to guide and nurture us in developing rich interior lives — as we seek to respond to the beatifying, deifying love of God. The mystics, whose legacy includes sublime poetry, fascinating autobiographies, and potentially life-changing teachings, can help anyone find greater love, purpose, and a deeper sense of God’s presence.
But the mystics are not a uniform bunch, which is why this book is such an essential guide to their lives, wisdom, and essential teachings. Carl McColman, author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, organizes the mystics into nine categories: visionaries, confessors, lovers, poets, saints, heretics, wisdom keepers, soul-friends, and unitives. By profiling twelve examples of great mystics and spiritual teachers in each category, the book can help you to learn more about the mystics, and identify those whose writings will be most valuable to you as you pursue your own adventure of falling ever more deeply in love with God.
All of the most famous Christian mystics are profiled here: figures like Teresa of Ávila, Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Evelyn Underhill, Thomas Merton, and anonymous masters like the authors of classics like The Cloud of Unknowing or The Way of a Pilgrim. But the book also will introduce you to many lesser known (but truly wonderful) mystical geniuses, such as Beatrice of Nazareth, Gregory of Narek, and Coventry Patmore. Likewise, a number of living (or recently living) mystics are also included, such as Howard Thurman, Sara Grant, Kenneth Leech, and Bruno Barnhart.
This informative volume will appeal to those who buy religious reference books and anyone interested in Christian mysticism or western spirituality. But it’s more than just a history book or an encyclopedia: Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a curated celebration of western spiritual wisdom, making it accessible for all seekers today.
A word from the author:
“Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I originally envisioned including a section in that book that would serve as a sort of who’s who of mysticism, with entries for all the major figures that gave biographical informa-tion, key teachings or ideas, and a representative quote or two. For a variety of reasons, that never came to pass, and so The Big Book of Christian Mysticism only included a list of significant mystics and contemplatives of the Christian tradition. Here at last is my who’s who. I’ve written this not as a scholar or an academic, but as a spiritual practitioner—which means this is not meant to be an encyclopedia of facts and figures, but really an invitation for you to discover the riches of mystical wisdom in order to cultivate your own marvelous and wonderful relationship with God. I hope you enjoy it.”
Praise for Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages:
How blessed we are to have this book! Carl McColman not only broadens our notion of mysticism, but also deepens it, and thus invites every Christian on the same beloved path.
Richard Rohr, OFM, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation and author of What the Mystics Know\
We live to feel alive. We need to know love and joy. And I feel this book could help safeguard — and encourage — many tender, precious unfurling wings.|
Bestselling author of The Gift and Love Poems From God
The genius of this book lies in its ability to introduce the reader to the heart of the mystics through tiny, sparkling jewels of their writings. Carl McColman knows these mystics deeply and selects passages that invite the reader into their profound experience of God.
Margaret Benefiel, author of The Soul of a Leader and Soul at Work
Carl McColman offers an inspiring introduction to a broad range of 108 Western Christian mystics, helpfully divided into 9 different kinds of mystics. The reader who is drawn to particular ones as potential teachers for their spiritual journey is helped by the author’s listing of an outstanding available book for each mystic, that will expose them more fully to that person’s wisdom. The book is written in lucid, non-academic language that allows it to be accessible to a wide range of people.
Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute and author of Living Simply Through the Day
A treasure trove of the Christian mystics — seers, saints and sages — presented in all their rich diversity and offered as mentors to guide the contemporary Christian toward an encounter with the presence of God. Christian Mystics serves as both a primer and a resource to inspire and inform.
Dana Greene, author of Evelyn Underhill: Artist of the Infinite Life, and Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life
Christian Mystics is a delightful spiritual banquet, a real feast, giving us a taste of the many mystics throughout time who can serve as our teachers and companions. This book is a spiritual banquet, a real feast, making the mystical tradition accessible to all. Informative and inspiring, it brings the mystical tradition to life — a treasure to enjoy and return to again and again.
Colette Lafia, author of Seeking Surrender: How my Friendship with a Trappist Monk Taught me to Trust and Embrace Life
In Christian Mystics, Carl McColman has given us the most delightful kind of book — a sampler that is as tasty and attractive as a See’s candy assortment. He offers us a brief taste of 108 mystics — people whose writings pull back the veil and give us a glimpse of the divinity, the unity, and the glory of all things. For each mystic he features a short biography and usually, a brief excerpt. Then, having enticed us, he points us to where we can get more, recommending a book or text for us to seek out and explore further. This is a dangerous book, because once you pick it up, it will lead you to at least 108 others, and those, of course, will lead to even more. It will set the reader on a journey that truly has no end.
Rev. John R. Mabry, PhD, author of Growing Into God: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Mysticism
With exceptional clarity once again Carl McColman snaps together words which lead us into the breadth, diversity and depth of the Christian contemplative tradition. One of the great merits of this book is that it makes clear the fundamental distinction between the essence of mysticism, on the one hand; and visions, locutions and other extraordinary phenomena on the other. For this I, for one, offer a deep bow of gratitude.
Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO, Trappist monk and author of Tears of an Innocent God
Carl offers his readers the great gift of a distillation of 108 wise and worthy guides on the mystical way, each entry offering a spark for further exploration. His categories were especially helpful in finding kindred souls and I love that ‘Heretics’ were included.
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author of Illuminating the Way and The Soul of a Pilgrim
Carl McColman has given us another rich introduction to the Christian mystical tradition, this time though the lives of some of its greatest explorers. This loving and accessible collection of portraits shows us the lush diversity of those who’ve ventured deep into the presence of God. Visionaries and lovers, poets and others, McColman joins these scalers of the spiritual heights and invites us forward on our own journey. An invaluable resource for both newcomers and those well-versed in the contemplative way.
Susan R. Pitchford, author of Following Francis, God in the Dark, and The Sacred Gaze
Carl McColman’s wise and gentle primer has introduced me to many mystics I’ve never heard of, as well as renewed my acquaintance with some favorites like Julian of Norwich, Meister Eckhart and Richard Rohr. This book brings mystics down to earth even while bringing readers that much closer to heaven. I will be turning to it many times in the coming years.
Jana Riess, author of Flunking Sainthood
Christianity is a vast sea of wisdom, and yet most of us are content only to skim the surface. Carl McColman’s introduction to the Christian mystics invites us to dive deep and discover a Christianity most of us have never even imagined. If you think Christianity only equals Church and Sunday School, you need this book!
Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of Perennial Wisdom for the Spiritually Independent
This useful and engaging book is, as the author says, a kind of ‘speed-dating’ introduction to the world of Christian mystics. It’s of real value both for beginners and for more experienced readers, who may have overlooked some of the great mystics of the past.
Richard Smoley, author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition
108 is a sacred number in the Eastern wisdom traditions. I love that Carl McColman chose this esoteric vessel to hold the perennial wisdom of the Christian mystics. Drawing together an array of colorful visionaries and sublime poets, this book is an elegant guide to the essence of those awakened souls who transcend religiosity while simultaneously opening our hearts to the love of their Master, Christ.
Mirabai Starr, author of God of Love and Caravan of No Despair
I used to carry around Evelyn Underhill’s classic, Mysticism. My copy of Bernard McGinn’s anthology is marked on every page. But now, Carl McColman’s Christian Mystics will be my go to guide. The “Heretics” and “Poets” are like treasures hidden in a field, and the “Unitives” are like a heavenly feast — they are the ones that take us all to new ground.
Jon M. Sweeney, author of The Enthusiast and When Saint Francis Saved the Church