(Article changed on January 31, 2013 at 18:25)
Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) January 31, 2013: Anthony ("Tony") de Mello's fine book THE WAY TO LOVE: MEDITATIONS FOR LIFE has recently been reissued (Image, 2012). In this short book Tony offers us the most coherent and cogent presentation of his thought. He begins each short chapter with a brief quotation from one of the Christian gospels. As a result, there is a general ambience of Christian thought about the book.
However, non-Christian readers could disregard the Christian conceptual scaffolding and still find much in the book to value if they are interested in pursuing the spiritual life. After all, Christians do not have a monopoly of the spiritual life -- the life of mystics.
Tony de Mello, S.J. (1931-1987), the Jesuit spiritual director from India, was a mystic. He was born and raised and lived most of his adult life in India, where he entered the Roman Catholic religious order known formally as the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuit order). However, at times, Tony presented spiritual conferences in various other countries, including the United States. Some of his spiritual conferences were recorded and audiocassettes of them sold. In addition, a couple of his spiritual conferences were transcribed and published posthumously as books. During his lifetime, he published a number of books that he had written. His posthumously published book THE WAY TO LOVE consists of a series of short meditations that he wrote as reflections and elucidations of certain passages in the Christian gospels.
I myself have not had the kind of mystic experiences that Tony had. As a result of his mystic experiences, he came to a new understanding of certain passages in the Christian gospels. He elucidates each gospel passage in light of the new understanding that his mystic experiences enabled him to have. Even though I have not had the kind of mystic experiences that he had, his elucidations of the selected passages make sense to me.
Some Background Information
Arguably the most famous compilation of instructions for meditation and contemplation in Western culture is the book known as the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES of St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Roman Catholic religious order known as the Society of Jesus, mentioned above. Before he founded this religious order, Ignatius Loyola was a mystic. In addition, he was a spiritual director, directing people who wanted to make retreats following so-called "spiritual exercises" that he himself had been given by various spiritual directors he had consulted. Eventually, he wrote up instructions for a sequence of meditations. The book titled the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES is the result.
This book belongs to the larger category of books that cookbooks belong to, which is to say that it is a book of instructions for doing some things in a particular order. Just as you could read a cookbook carefully from cover to cover without ever trying to follow any of the recipes, so too you could read the SPIRITUAL EXERCISES carefully from cover to cover without trying any of the spiritual exercises yourself.
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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; Ph.D.in higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)