by Chris Manion Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D.
Profiles In Catholicism
The author writes about her beginning relationship with God in 2004 when as she states: “He kept breaking into my life. It’s not that I didn’t ask for it. I know. Every time it happened I took days to recover. I didn’t know how to integrate it.” Chris Mallon’s life changed that summer day. Her spiritual director sent he to Sister Pascaline an amma, to guide and direct her. She was located in Oklahoma at the Osage Monastery. Sister Pascaline had participated in the Gethsemane Encounter during the early times with the Dalai Lama and Thomas Merton were good friends of her and she was willing to give spiritual direction to those who were making a retreat at her monastery. Sister Pascaline had a great love for the prophet Isiah and directed her to” “Today if you hear the Voice, harden not your hearts, but recognize love, praise, and adore the divine heart who calls to us through the prophet Isiah.” Chris booked a flight as her husband worked from home and her children were in their mid-teens so it didn’t create a hardship. The driver who picked her up from the airport was Sister Pascaline, who barely could see over the steering wheel. When they got to the monastery she was directed to make herself at home. The psalmist tells us to “Be still and know that I am God” the quieting down and being still is the role of meditation (what we call contemplation in the West) and this is where the Eastern traditions have so much to share with us. The author felt the stillness snuggling around her like a cat getting ready for a nap! In the chapel on the monastery grounds there was a prayer circle which was a welcome alternative to the traditional architecture of churches and cathedrals. The decent into the prayer circle felt like a lowering into the arms of my Lord, like walking into the ocean, into waters that refresh and invigorate. After our prayer, Sister Pascaline set appointments each day for a half hour of directed spiritual guidance. The author planned the rest of the schedule on the beautiful grounds. “Where and when God finds you ready, He must act and overflow into you, just as when the air is clear and pure, the sun must overflow into it and cannot refrain from doing that!” Meister Eckhart
Each of the following chapters begins with a quotation that the author reflects and works on during her meditation. The reflections include the everydayness of her life and her awareness of being completely in the presence of Jesus all day. The wise priest, Thomas Keating, who works on centering prayer began chapter 6 with “The Spirit suggests what is to be done at each moment in our relationship to God, ourselves, others and the cosmos.” Many of us who have experienced the coronavirus, have had wonderful periods of contemplation and as Merton says: “Contemplation cannot be taught. It cannot even be clearly explained. It can be only hinted at, suggested, pointed to, symbolized…” It is a time of deep friendship with Jesus. As in other friendships, it has high and low points but it is continuous and constant and this is what Chris Manion has to offer us. This is a book that needs to be read by anyone who is interested in their spiritual life, their relationship with God and with others.