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Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cloister Books) Paperback – May 25, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This is a grace-filled book for those who are learning to swim in the deep waters of God's mercy and love―waters in which we already swim but hardly know it. Cynthia Bourgeault shows us the road to a deep and lasting hope (Alan W. Jones, Dean Emeritus, Grace Cathedral, San Francisco; author of Soul Making)

It is unusual to encounter a book that brings together to this degree metaphysical depth, practical spirituality, and sparkling writing. True to the dynamic of the spiritual life, Cynthia Bourgeault follows the path of hope inward to the center and then back outward to the world. (Bruno Barnhart, OSB Cam.)

Dr. Bourgeault, an experienced guide to centering prayer, offers some profound and amazing insights into an inner joy that can be found in the midst of personal disappointment. She reveals friendship as living together in hope, which she experiences as God's ‘warm-heartedness.' (Beatrice Bruteau)

Compelling! This is the one book I asked the entire parish to read, and it has initiated us into the deepest part of our spiritual vision of how to live with meaning with one another. Provocative and insightful, this book partners the head and heart in such a way that real transformation in daily living is not simply a possibility, but the longing from which one cannot escape. Ms. Bourgeault has captured a sense of Wisdom here that brings the Teacher into the lived moment. Hope and Mercy are no longer marginalized words, lost in an over-worked and trite lexicon of simplicity. They bounce and dance with life, and make sense for practicing this great faith we so desperately seek. (David E. Stringer, Rector, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Corpus Christi, TX)

This is a lovely little book that invites the reader to undertake an inner journey that can be transformative if one gives oneself to its demands. [Mystical Hope] remains a thought-provoking book likely to be of interest to those who practice centering prayer as well as to those who are serious seekers after God. In a time when hope is frequently threatened and is seemingly more necessary than ever, it is good to hear her encouraging words: ‘. . . hope, the hidden spring of mercy deep within us . . . flows out from the center; . . . we discover within ourselves the mysterious plentitude to live into action what ordinary hearts and minds could not possible sustain. (M. Zita Wenker, OSB Cistercian Studies Quarterly)

A highly condensed book by an experienced guide to the practice of Centering Prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating. The book will be of enduring interest to mature meditators seriously committed to contemplative prayer. (Schola)

In this illuminating volume on the dynamics of hope, Bourgeault suggests a new way of envisioning this Christian virtue that plays a major role in the Biblical account of God's dealings with humankind. . . . The author challenges the church ‘to become a sign of hope in a broken world,' to walk the talk of love, compassion, forgiveness, and compassion. (Values and Visions Reviews Service)

This short book is easily read, but putting its teaching into practice is the work of a lifetime and I, for one, will be happy to spend the rest of my life in practicing what Cynthia Bourgeault so gracefully preaches. (Salt, The Monthly Newsletter Of The Anglican Parish Of Salt)

Mystical Hope is an inviting, warmhearted, and reflective introduction to Christian mysticism....Bourgeault's book beautifully balances teaching with illuminatingly illustrative autobiographical anecdotes. (H. Talat Halman, Central Michigan University)

About the Author

CYNTHIA BOURGEAULT has studied and taught in a number of Benedictine monasteries in the United States and Canada. An Episcopal priest, she is well known as a retreat and conference leader, teacher of prayer, and writer on the spiritual life. She is the author of a number of books, including Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cloister Books
  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications; 60390th edition (March 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561011932
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561011933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
At a time when people are yearning for good news, Cynthia Bourgeault's new book invites us to find our way to the hope that does not disapoint or fail. In our usual way of looking at things, hope is tied to an outcome: "I hope I get this job" or "I hope my mother gets well." The Bible introduces us to a different kind of hope that has its source not in events but in the mercy of God, a lifeblood of compassion connecting our heart to God's heart and the heart of all creation. In five interwoven meditations, Mystical Hope shows us how to recognize this hope in our own lives, where it comes from, how to deepen it through prayer, and how to carry it into the world as a source of strength and renewal. About the author: Cynthia Bourgeault has studied and taught in a number of Benedictine monastaries in the United States and Canada. An Episcopal priest, she is well known as a retreat and conference leader, teacher of prayer, and writer on the spiritual life.
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Format: Paperback
Simply to profit from reading two books by one unique author is Good News to me! It often happened with Sister Joan Chittister, Karen Armstrong, Sir Walter Brueggemann, John Claypool, Barbara Brown Taylor and William Sloan Coffin.

At least two things about Sister Cynthia's writing impress me: Her neatly awesome, appropriate quotations before each of her five chapters: One, "What you dare not hope for--that is what He gives you." (Frere Roger of Taize`Community); Two, Psalm 103:11--"We swim in the mercy as the endless sea." ; Three, "The Notion that God is absent is the fundamental illusion of the human condition." (Thomas Keating) Four, "In the middle of winter, I discovered in myself an invincible summer." (Albert Camus)

In the strongest Chapter Five "Hope and the Future" she employs powerful sub-titles. Then as "Inner and Outer" she writes keenly about "contemplative prayer" being equal to "piercing prayer" which she experienced in a deeply personal relationship with Snow Mass priest, Rafe as they followed Thomas Merton. Under her next sub-title she explores as "the visionary insights at the heart of Christian mysticism" emerging from Jacob Boehme, Merton, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen and Barbara Brown Taylor! These examples of her smoothly flowing style capture my imagination and I continue to see this as her strongest book! Accolades to one superb Lady... Retired Chaplain Fred W Hood
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Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book, in poetic language, describing what the author calls the magnificence of the "Mercy of God" i.e. the place of Mystical Hope, that lies beyond all our petty, little hopes--a place accessible to all of us: "Deeper than our sense of isolation and separateness is another level of awareness in us, another way of knowing." My one criticism of the book was that it did not develop more fully the theme of mystical hope, as applied, for example, to those living with incurable illness, or in hospice. It seemed, rather, to just toss out the idea, and then jump into the [albeit] wonderful descriptions and details of meditation. Nevertheless, this is a five star book!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I used this book in a college Mysticism course and the students raved and thanked me for a book that reached them and that they savored.Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cowley, 2001) is an inviting, warmhearted, and reflective introduction to Christian mysticism by Reverend Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal Priest who leads contemplative prayer retreats across the U.S. and Canada. She is a genuine contemporary mystic and minister who is not only deeply immersed in and committed to her Christian tradition and its contemplative practices, but has sincerely and richly studied Sufism (Mystical Islam). For years Cynthia Bourgeault worked closely with Centering Prayer's promoter Father Thomas Keating.

Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God is a short book running only 106 5" x 8" pages, including its beautiful opening epigraph, a poem by St. Symeon. But it is a deep text that holds the potential to intersect into one's contexts of faith and practice with long-lived potency. Her exploration of the meaning of mercy in the Hebrew Bible, English, Latin, Hebrew, and French fruitfully yields a vivid evocation of "mercy" as "a fierce, bonding love," and "the power that binds one person to another in the covenant of hearts" (p. 25)

Bourgeault outlines a vision of "mystical hope" that as "a life of its own" goes deeper than a response to positive outcomes, is found in a space of "presence...an immediate experience of...communion..." and characterized by "an 'unbearable lightness of being' from within." (pp. 9-10) And Bourgeault brings us to its shores in many ways, especially in two evocations of the Voyage of St. Brendan who in sailing to find the Land Promised to the Saints, finds it not by navigating in the physical world, but rather, at the moment his "inner eye opens.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This small book is one of several publications by the author, an Episcopal priest. Followers of spirtual leaders Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating and others who encourage the practice of centering and meditative prayer will appreciate this small but very thoughtful exposition of the importance of mercy and a return to a more contemplative life. I think I will be rereading this practical yet inspirational book for many years to come.
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