In The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality (one of our Best Spiritual Books of 2010), Carl McColman presented "a remarkable overview of the riches, wisdom, paradoxes, practices, and major figures in Christian mysticism." Although this paperback is much smaller in size and scope, it is evidence of the same wisdom and keenness of thought as his earlier book.
For McColman, life is a spiritual journey and mysticism is "a process, an unfolding dimension of movement and change that takes place over the course of many seasons." The goal is to find ourselves in God. The author's invitation is to explore the beauty of Christian contemplation and then to earnestly set out to practice it.
Dividing the book into three parts, Recognizing the Call, Preparing for the Journey, and Embarking on the Adventure, McColman reveals the manifold ways those on the mystical path honor the many mysteries of life including the human adventure and our relationship with God. He shares stories of the awakening of Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Thomas Merton, and others. He charts three missions of this path: to seek the Beatific Vision, to restore the obscured likeness of God within us, and to follow the counsel of loving God, others, and self.
In a substantive and helpful four-page overview, the author lists his choices of some of the most remarkable mystical writings. He suggests provisions for the journey and reasons why it is necessary to have spiritual companions. He also describes the journey itself with its beginning in Christ, its end in mystery, its befriending silence, its affirmation of beholding, its connection with worship, and its opening to the fullness of Divine blessing. In all of these, humility and the art of self-forgetfulness are pathways to divinization, the consummation of the mystical journey.