A skilled moral theologian, Benedictine Father Mark O'Keefe leads God-seekers to focus attention on St. John of the Cross's teaching in The Ascent of Mount Carmel: The essence of the spiritual journey is union with God through the practice of the virtues, especially faith, hope, and love. It's virtuous living that enables us to truly love God and be conformed to God in divine union.
For St. John, religious experiences are not the essence of the spiritual journey at all, nor is asceticism for its own sake. John s emphasis on the nada is to lead us to liberating emptiness -- authentic human freedom-- that equips us to be filled with the divine life. At the journey's summit, we find the God who is Love.
This book is an insightful companion to The Ascent of Mount Carmel. Ideal for personal and group study, Carmelite formation, college courses, and a must for every library.
Mark O'Keefe, OSB is a Benedictine monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana. He is associate professor of Moral Theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. He holds a doctorate in sacred theology, with specialization in moral theology. He has authored nine books,and numerous other published works. He served as a pastor since 1987. His interest in Carmelite spirituality led him to specialized studies in Avila, Spain over the course of several years.
Father O'Keefe s background in moral theology comes through as he speaks powerfully of St. John of the Cross s insistence that only through a virtuous life can we ascend the mountain leading to God. This book gives us an excellent guide to understand St. John s teaching and motivates us to live out our yes to God s invitation to love and to life, life to the full.
- Bishop Robert Morneau; Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Green Bay, Wisconsin
In this pivotal new book on the Ascent of Mount Carmel, Benedictine Father O'Keefe not only provides us great insights on the obstacles that have prevented us from making progress on the spiritual ascent to deeper to union with God, but through his detailed analysis of the role of the theological virtues, he also provides an answer to the inevitable question we all face along the spiritual journey: so what do I do now?
Father O'Keefe does not shy away from the unique cultural challenges we face in trying to live out St. John of the Cross s teaching in our modern world. He acknowledges the potential for contemporary misunderstanding of or even genuine resistance to words like asceticism. At the same time he stresses that the work required for authentic human liberation is simply the fulfillment of our truest nature as human persons. It is designed to allow us to become more capable of both receiving God s love and giving back that love in return.
St. John of the Cross was a masterful psychologist (before that science was acknowledged) and he was deeply familiar with the inner workings of the human heart. Similarly, in this book, the reader is left with the impression that he or she is in the hands of a compassionate and experienced master of the interior life.
Love Awakened by Love: The Liberating Ascent of St. John of the Cross will serve as a useful guide to anyone wishing to develop a deeper understanding of the spiritual journey and the various stages of growth along the path. It should also prove very helpful in providing a much better understanding of the sometimes challenging but deeply profound works of St. John of the Cross.
Those involved in spiritual direction or pastoral ministry will discover how the work can serve as a readable and insightful tool for offering counsel to others. In more academic settings such as seminaries and undergraduate and graduate programs in theology, this text will make a significant contribution to the canon of literature in the study of Mystical Theology.
It should find a ready reception in any parish ministry focused on adult education, spiritual development, and the vitally important work of providing instruction on the life of prayer. Love Awakened by Love can contribute significantly to our parishes fulfilling the late Pope John Paul II s vision of parishes truly becoming schools of prayer.
- Mark Danis, OCDS; Our Lady of Good Counsel Community Dayton, Ohio