Called in a special way to listen to God's whispers, the mystics amplify not only what it means to be baptized into the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ—and to having the Trinity living in them—but also what is deepest in the human spirit. Mystics experience themselves as an infinite question to which only God is the answer; as an immense longing that only Love can quench; as a nothing in the face of the No-Thing. They are God's fools, troubadours—the great artists and poets of the interior life whose "learned ignorance" articulates the art of loving God, neighbor, self, the Church, and the world.
In Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition Harvey Egan draws on fifty years of reading and teaching the mystics to sketch the varieties and passion of the mystical life across more than two millennia. Through their stories and words Egan reveals that all were conscious of the paradox of human identity—supremely and unsurpassably manifested in the God-Man—that the genuinely human is disclosed only through surrender to God and that the search for God cannot bypass the genuinely human.
Harvey D. Egan, SJ, is the author of numerous works on Christian mysticism and the thought of Karl Rahner. He is currently professor of systematic and mystical theology at Boston College.
Egan's style is open and positive as he engages the serious reader. A true son of St. Ignatius of Loyola, he will first attract and then guide the reader to Jesus Christ, the mystic paradigm, but in a way that draws along the full potential of the reader. The book has no conclusion-which perhaps suggests we will have to supply one from our own experience walking the mystical way.
In a vibrant and inspiring Preface, Eagan begins with the all-important question of human identity, 'who are you?'-a question that drives the mystics towards the divine Mystery. Then, after a chapter on the Hebrew Scriptures and a chapter on the New Testament, he introduces about eighty mystical figures, usually devoting between two and six pages to each. Fifty years of intense conversation with Christian mystics allows him to present us, in a concise manner, with such a large group. These "soundings" are so good and helpful that they deserve meditation, one per day, by readers asking themselves how they can imitate at least one facet of each mystic.
Louis Roy, O.P., Collège universitaire dominicain
This book is a fitting culmination to Harvey Egan's fifty years of reading, writing, and lecturing about the Christian mystics. A particular value of the work is his inclusion of not only the best-known mystics but also those whom he has found to be undeservedly neglected. Readers of these Soundings will surely be drawn to read the full texts of many of these mystics and so let themselves be `sounded` in return.
James A. Wiseman, OSB, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America, Monk of St. Anselm's Abbey in Washington, D.C.
Harvey Egan is an eminent scholar of Christian mysticism. This present volume reflects fifty years of engagement with those major figures who have experienced, in the words of Saint John of the Cross, that 'hidden wisdom which comes through love.' This eminently readable book would be of enormous value both for the individual reader and for use in a classroom setting. I highly recommend it to both audiences.
Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology The University of Notre Dame
'Soundings' comes together here to offer an overview of Christian spiritualities ranging from the Old Testament to Mother Teresa. Several dozen well known and less known theologians of mystical communion take the reader on a journey through approaches to Christian life and prayer. Locating them concretely in their own times and cultures, Harvey Egan presents these men and women with vitality and insight.
Thomas O'Meara, OP, Warren Professor Emeritus, University of Notre Dame
. . . a fine read and an excellent addition to Christian studies and mythology collections.
The Midwest Book Review
This is one of the finest books I have ever read on Christian mysticism. Harvey Egan, SJ, with his usual careful scholarship and clear writing style, leads us through the lives of the great Christian mystics in a way that makes mysticism and prayer accessible and inviting even to the most non-saintly among us. Father Egan, a master of the spiritual masters, brings to bear a lifetime of experience and erudition to a topic that can seem far removed from our daily lives, but is in fact at its heart: the way we relate to God. I can think of no better introduction to the Christian mystic tradition than Soundings.
James Martin, SJ, Author of The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything Culture Editor, America Magazine
Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition provides strong nourishment for those who are just beginning or have long journeys to take. Based on fifty years of classroom experience in teaching mysticism, Egan casts a wider net-more than seventy entries-than is usual in surveys of this kind. His effort is an important contribution to the burgeoning interest in mysticism.
Paul Lachance, OFM, Adjunct Professor of Spirituality, Catholic Theological Union