For some decades, the work of Carmelite theologian Constance FitzGerald, OCD, has been a well-known secret, not only among students and practitioners of Carmelite spirituality, but also among spiritual directors, spiritual writers, retreatants, vowed religious women and men, and Christian theologians.
This collection sets out to introduce the work of Sister Constance to a wider and more diverse audience––women and men who seek to strengthen themselves on the spiritual journey, who yearn to deepen personal or scholarly theological and religious reflection, and who want to make sense of the times in which we live. To this end, this volume curates seven of Sister Constance’s articles with probing and responsive essays written by ten theologians.
- Susie Paulik Babka
- Colette Ackerman, OCD
- Roberto S. Goizueta
- Margaret R. Pfeil
- Alex Milkulich
- Andrew Prevot
- Laurie Cassidy
- Maria Teresa Morgan
- Bryan N. Massingale
- M. Catherine Hilkert, OP
M. Shawn Copeland, professor of systematic theology emerita at Boston College, is an internationally recognized and award-winning scholar. She is the author and/or editor of six books, including Knowing Christ Crucified: The Witness of African American Religious Experience and Enfleshing Freedom: Body, Race, and Being, as well as articles and essays on spirituality, theological anthropology, political theology, social suffering, gender, and race.
Laurie Cassidy, PhD, is a theologian and spiritual director currently teaching in the Christian Spirituality Program at Creighton University. An award-winning author and editor, her books include Interrupting White Privilege: Catholic Theologians Break the Silence, edited with Alex Mikulich. Her latest book, The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-Incarceration: A Non-Violent Spirituality of White Resistance, is co-authored Alex Mikulich and Margaret Pfeil. As well as being an anti-racist activist, she has ministered in the area of spirituality for the past thirty years and provided spiritual direction, retreats, and workshops across the United States. Her research and writing explore the political and cultural impact of Christian mysticism in personal and social transformation.
“Wonderful and unusual in equal parts, this is truly an extraordinary book. Constance FitzGerald’s notion of social impasse is the occasion for a lively and important dialogue with a bevy of distinguished scholars. It may be that this collection of essays illumines Karl Rahner’s remark that the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all. But what is undoubtedly true is that it reveals how prayerful theology today needs to be if it is to help to lead us beyond the many impasses of our times.”
Paul Lakeland, Fairfield University
“For decades, pioneering contemplative theologian Constance FitzGerald has been creatively exploring how the wisdom of the Carmelite tradition can help address our contemporary experience of impasse and darkness, and our deepest desires for personal and social transformation, in the face of so many current crises. Gathered here are seven of her most important essays, together with contributions from a variety of theologians, who draw upon her insights as they grapple with such issues as the COVID-19 pandemic, economic injustice, environmental degradation, violence and dehumanization, systemic racism, and the oppression of women and minorities. Sometimes provocative, always thought provoking and change-oriented, this anthology is a rich resource for all those ‘urgently longing’ for a timely reintegration of theology, contemplation, and the struggle for social justice.”
Steven Payne, OCD, author of The Carmelite Tradition: Spirituality in History
“In this generous book we encounter a secret treasure: the wide, wise heart and mind of a great lover of the divine and of humanity. Shawn Copeland and Laurie Cassidy have done theologians, ‘nones,’ and lovers everywhere an enormous service by introducing Constance FitzGerald and her cloud of witnesses to a broader audience. May their light shine long and brightly.”
Wendy Farley, Redlands University
“Laurie Cassidy and M. Shawn Copeland have performed an astonishing service to the Christian community in collecting seven of Constance FitzGerald’s essays on profound themes, specifically dark night experiences, in the works of St. John of the Cross that shed light on and offer guidance in confronting several situations of impasse in contemporary society. They have done so not only by making these essays available in one place, but also by inviting the contemplative engagement of a variety of theologians, women and men whose own work deals with these same intransigent conditions of injustice and suffering that cry for remedy and brings them into dialogue with the wisdom of John of the Cross and the patterns of transformation he describes as Constance has appropriated them. Although FitzGerald rarely directly alludes to her personal experience in prayer in her appropriation of the teaching of John of the Cross for our times, there are moments when the reader catches glimpses when FitzGerald’s own experience all but merges with that of John of the Cross.”
Janet Ruffing, RSM, Yale Divinity School
“What a rare marvel this book is. While emphatically celebrating the God awareness, spirituality, and theological prowess of Carmelite contemplative theologian Sister Constance FitzGerald, the theologians, activists, and spiritual directors engage FitzGerald’s understanding of desire, darkness, hope, passion, and impasse, and prayer—all in her yearning for and union with God—through their insightful and formidable contributions. In their critical engagement with Constance FitzGerald’s theology, the intentionally diverse contributors at once are inspired, challenged, and stretched to respond, relate, react, and reimagine how they encounter God and witness about God to their sisters and brothers amid the virulent ‘dark night of the world.’ These essays are a timely invitation to the reader into the spiritual life of FitzGerald as she offers hope and wisdom in these disconcerting times.”
Maurice J. Nutt, CSsR, Convener, Black Catholic Theological Symposium, Author of Thea Bowman: Faithful and Free
“At once eternal and timely, this book is the most-rare of treasures for those who want to think deeply about the spiritual journey of our time, one shaped by twin pandemics, ‘the coronavirus disease and white racist supremacy.’ Constance FitzGerald’s singular wisdom always invites greater intimacy with God, but particularly so during this time of impasse. She illuminates the path of prophetic hope. In this book, FitzGerald’s outstanding interpreters lay bare the enduring fecundity of her contribution. By any measure, a must read.”
Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Loyola Marymount University
“This volume is an invaluable contribution to the deepening reflection in the theological academy on the role of the Christian (especially the Carmelite) mystical tradition in the project of engaging the most important issues of personal and social transformation in our time. It makes available seven of the now classic studies of that tradition by Carmelite scholar, Constance FitzGerald, OCD, which are each engaged by scholars with expertise in the areas in question.”
Sandra M. Schneiders, IHM, Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University