"Love your enemies. Do good to them … Be compassionate, just as God is compassionate."
— Luke 6: 35, 36.
Andrew Dreitcer is Associate Professor of Spirituality, Director of Spiritual Formation, and Codirector of the Center for Engaged Compassion at Claremont School of Theology. He contends that most of the serious and far-reaching assessments of compassion nowadays come from scientists and Buddhists. Although this capacity, expressed as "love your enemies," stands as "the highest standard of what it means to live the Christian life," Dreitcer wonders why Christian congregations are not spending more time practicing the path of love and radical compassion.
Scientists studying compassion define it as "the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering." Dreitcer moves on to his interpretation of the art of compassion as loving God, loving yourself, and loving others. Biblical references emphasize understanding, feeling, and actions as taking place within the circles of our relationships. We are admonished not to have compassion but to be compassion.
This Christian practice is nurtured in the soil of intention, awareness, and attention (Foundational Capacities) and intimacy, imagination, and feelings (Compassion Capacities). Other devotional resources available to Christians on this path include Centering Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, Meditations on the Life of Christ, compassion for those close to us, compassion for enemies, and Ignatian contemplation to attain love.
Dreitcer also takes a look at the following practices grounded in an experience of receiving compassion: Desert prayer, Recollection, and Centering prayer. These tools exercise your interior movements and help you to "compassionately find ways to heal, free, and restore your life and the life of the world." He closes with a convincing and inspiring explanation of "a compassion practice for our time" that is rich, rounded, proactive, and transformative.