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Our fast-paced lives are filled with distractions, frequently leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied—with ourselves, with others, and even with God. Spiritual practices that used to sustain us fall short when life circumstances bring us to the limits of our self. After many years leading an international humanitarian organization, Phileena Heuertz experienced the decons Our fast-paced lives are filled with distractions, frequently leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied—with ourselves, with others, and even with God. Spiritual practices that used to sustain us fall short when life circumstances bring us to the limits of our self. After many years leading an international humanitarian organization, Phileena Heuertz experienced the deconstruction of her identity, worldview, and faith. Centering prayer, a Christian expression of mindfulness, was a crucial remedy for her fragmented condition, offering a more peace-filled and purposeful life. The hallmarks of contemplative spirituality—solitude, silence, and stillness—have never been more important for our society: In solitude, we develop the capacity to be present. In silence, we cultivate the ability to listen. In stillness, we acquire the skill of self-control. Contemplative prayer helps us discern the voice of God, uncover our true self, and live a life of meaning and purpose. Filled with insights and wisdom from her own experience, Phileena introduces us to themes and teachers of contemplative spirituality, as well as several prayer practices, and invites us to greater healing and wholeness by learning to practice faith through prayer. This is an opportunity to go deeper with God—to experience the Divine and be transformed.


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Our fast-paced lives are filled with distractions, frequently leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied—with ourselves, with others, and even with God. Spiritual practices that used to sustain us fall short when life circumstances bring us to the limits of our self. After many years leading an international humanitarian organization, Phileena Heuertz experienced the decons Our fast-paced lives are filled with distractions, frequently leaving us disillusioned and dissatisfied—with ourselves, with others, and even with God. Spiritual practices that used to sustain us fall short when life circumstances bring us to the limits of our self. After many years leading an international humanitarian organization, Phileena Heuertz experienced the deconstruction of her identity, worldview, and faith. Centering prayer, a Christian expression of mindfulness, was a crucial remedy for her fragmented condition, offering a more peace-filled and purposeful life. The hallmarks of contemplative spirituality—solitude, silence, and stillness—have never been more important for our society: In solitude, we develop the capacity to be present. In silence, we cultivate the ability to listen. In stillness, we acquire the skill of self-control. Contemplative prayer helps us discern the voice of God, uncover our true self, and live a life of meaning and purpose. Filled with insights and wisdom from her own experience, Phileena introduces us to themes and teachers of contemplative spirituality, as well as several prayer practices, and invites us to greater healing and wholeness by learning to practice faith through prayer. This is an opportunity to go deeper with God—to experience the Divine and be transformed.

30 review for Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: Part narrative, part instruction, this work traces the author's experience of "deconstruction" and how Christian contemplative practice enabled a deeper relationship with God and knowledge of herself. Phileena Huertz and her husband worked with a humanitarian organization dealing with the victims of war in Sierra alone, encountering horrors that challenged everything she believed. God seemed silent. She was introduced to Father Thomas Keating, and through him, to the practices of contemp Summary: Part narrative, part instruction, this work traces the author's experience of "deconstruction" and how Christian contemplative practice enabled a deeper relationship with God and knowledge of herself. Phileena Huertz and her husband worked with a humanitarian organization dealing with the victims of war in Sierra alone, encountering horrors that challenged everything she believed. God seemed silent. She was introduced to Father Thomas Keating, and through him, to the practices of contemplative prayer and the long Christian tradition behind these practices. She describes her experience as one of awakening from sleepwalking, and in turn dying to a false self, to enter into the resurrection life. This led Huertz eventually to found her own ministry, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism. In the book, Huertz traces her journey, with practices for the reader to engage at the end of each chapter: Withdrawing to Engage: She describes her time at Gethsemani Abbey, the writing of Thomas Merton, and how solitude reveals the false self. Practice: Breath Prayer Finding Liberation by Discernment: She writes about the Ignatian exercises, how we hear God, and experience Him in our bodies, through the scriptures and the consolations and desolations in our lives. Practice: Examen Discovering Darkness is Light: She introduces us to St. John of the Cross and The Dark Night of the Soul and how we may move from talking to God to Being with God to Being one with God. Practice: Lectio Divina Exploring a Deep Well: On a visit to Assisi, she discovers Clare, the contemplative "deep well" to Francis's "raging river" and how the two together show the power of linking contemplation and action. Practice: Labyrinth Dying for Life: She narrates a meeting of contemplatives with Father Keating as he was dying, and work with the dying with Mother Teresa. Practice: Welcoming Prayer (where one welcomes and then lets go of each of the sensations and emotions of the body). Unknowing to Know: She discusses The Cloud of Unknowing and the practice of Apophatic prayer, that is prayer without words, describing at type of "knowing" that "is about analyzing less and loving more." Practice: Centering Prayer. The concluding chapter is an invitation to wake up, through contemplative practice and concludes with encouragements to unplug, get out into nature, and to adopt a puppy! On this last, Huertz movingly describes the impact of owning a dog has had in her life. The power of this book is addressing the challenge of "deconstruction" many of us face, often at mid-life when our spiritual beliefs and practices no longer seem to work. We want to know and commune with God, and not simply know about God. We want to find the inner resources to sustain our lives, particularly as we age. We discover that we need to listen to our bodies. The discussions and practices in this book engage all these issues and I would say that a number of these have proven meaningful in my own journey. At the same time, I find myself unable to fully endorse this book because it seems to me to depart from the center of Christian orthodoxy to embrace a more eastern worldview. A key passage that was concerning to me was this: "In direct contrast to a widely accepted theory of atonement, I was led to let go of redemptive violence in exchange for redemptive suffering. This sheds great light on the meaning of Jesus' crucifixion and how it applies in our daily life. The cross reveals a way to hold the tension of pain, suffering, paradox, and evil. In this way, we learn how to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). When we hang in the tension between good and evil, we are stretched, and it feels like a psychological and spiritual crucifixion. But this alone is what will bring forth resurrected life--the kind of life that in the face of pain, suffering, and evil can genuinely extend hope, healing, and love." (p. 143) The author doesn't name it, but it seems she is repudiating the idea of substitutionary atonement (with an interesting rhetorical turn of language describing it as "redemptive violence"). As I read and re-read this passage, it seems that Jesus dies only to offer a way of living in the tension of suffering and evil, an example of living with (and dying with) unresolved pain. Furthermore, there is a discussion of "oneness" or even "at-one-ment" that seems very different that biblical ideas of our union with Christ. The oneness of this book is oneness of body-mind-spirit, oneness with the world around us, and oneness with God that seems to this reader more the oneness of pantheistic monism than Christian theism. Is the cross even necessary for such oneness? What troubles me is that contemplative spirituality as it is cast in this book (and I have not found this true with all writers in the Christian contemplative tradition) seems to suggest a way of salvation apart from the cross of Christ. Kirsten Power's afterword seems to confirm this when she says, "But you don't need to be a Christian, or a believer of any kind, to benefit from this teaching. Contemplative spirituality is for everyone." (p. 176). I've been similarly concerned about some of the more recent writings of Father Richard Rohr (for example, Falling Upward, reviewed here). Rohr is one of Huertz's mentors and writes the foreword to this book, and I fear Huertz evidences similar tendencies in her own thought. I regret raising these issues because there is much of value in the traditions and practices Huertz advocates. Huertz believes in linking contemplation and action but seems to oppose contemplation and theological acuity, a divide that seems prevalent in the separate circles of theological reflection and contemplation. I would propose a tripod of contemplation, theological reflection and activism as a far more powerful paradigm. Might that be possible? ___________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  2. 4 out of 5

    William Dusing

    Sometimes in life things present themselves at just the right time. I can confidently say that this book, Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation, was a much needed comfort and encouragement during the busiest and stressful two month of my life. Now, I don't want to sound overdramatic or negative, but I cannot remember feeling this much pressure, this much workload, or the feeling of having to meet so many deadlines in the history of my life, education, or career. All of this, comb Sometimes in life things present themselves at just the right time. I can confidently say that this book, Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation, was a much needed comfort and encouragement during the busiest and stressful two month of my life. Now, I don't want to sound overdramatic or negative, but I cannot remember feeling this much pressure, this much workload, or the feeling of having to meet so many deadlines in the history of my life, education, or career. All of this, combined with raising a young family of four children and trying to be a physically, emotionally, and spiritually present husband, I'm not sure how I'm still standing upright. Mindful Silence was, for me, a spiritual retreat of sorts. I would spend my evenings, after the family was all tucked into bed, sitting in my favorite chair, slowly, yet productively, engaging this masterfully written book. Phileena Heuertz has a way of writing, which allows me to soak into the pages. Written as an informative and instructive exploration on the vital discipline of contemplation, Heuertz pours wisdom and insight onto the dry and weary soul. My life is loud. My life is hectic. My life is busy. These factors often make it a struggle to find silence. These factors often make it a struggle to slow down and pray. Contemplative prayer involves one’s awareness and concentration to center on God, His presence, and, rather than just focusing on talking, becoming alert and sensitive to listening. Some might argue that of course they are paying attention to God while praying, it is He with whom they are conversing. However, attentiveness is deeper than a simple conversation. Contemplation through prayer is more than speaking words. Contemplative prayer is rich and full of joy and delight before a word ever needs to be spoken. It is a delightful posture of spending time with, and listening to, God; mindful silence. Heuertz says, "Contemplative spirituality is an invitation to wake up and die so you can truly live. Contemplative prayer is for courageous, devoted seekers. It facilitates personal transformation for a world in need of healing love. Contemplative spirituality supports the way of following Jesus, which necessitates dying to self or emptying self to make room for the all-consuming presence of God (Philippians 2)." In a process that is thoughtful and careful, Heuertz brings the reader back to the core, the center, the heart of the Christian life: presence with the Father through Christ Jesus. Attentive and mindful contemplative prayer is built on a reliance and relationship with God. A humble, yet full union with God, reliant upon the Spirit. The Apostle Paul taught, “…the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26 NRSV). The focus is turned away from the attempts of the believer and placed upon God, the Shepherd who loves and cares for His sheep. Heuertz illuminates that focus, sheds away the damaged and fragmented condition we may find ourselves in, and softly guides the heart, mind, and soul towards Christ. I highly and enthusiastically recommend Mindful Silence.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    As one who has spent years working with, living among, breathing deeply, and inhabiting the sacred spaces in which broken children, women, and men strive for wholeness and growth, It's all too easy to become cynical. Another marriage is failing. Another child is unwanted. Another family is breaking at the seams. Kicking at the darkness is exhausting. Phileena's words are a breath of fresh air - both her teachings, her prior writings, but especially in this new work. She invites seekers into a pl As one who has spent years working with, living among, breathing deeply, and inhabiting the sacred spaces in which broken children, women, and men strive for wholeness and growth, It's all too easy to become cynical. Another marriage is failing. Another child is unwanted. Another family is breaking at the seams. Kicking at the darkness is exhausting. Phileena's words are a breath of fresh air - both her teachings, her prior writings, but especially in this new work. She invites seekers into a place of stillness, of rest, and of renewal. It is counter-cultural, but so needed in our fractured and hurried world. Step into silence with Phileena, and then step back into the world around you to engage in new and refreshing ways.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melanie Kim

    I didn’t realize how much I needed this book. Phileena writes with a grace, clarity, and vulnerability that might make you think her work is simple, but it is anything but. The contents of Mindful Silence will change your life if you take them to heart. Phileena communicates the importance of contemplative practice in the gentlest of ways, but with an urgency and passion. She generously provides practical instruction on the most essential contemplative practices which serve as excellent starting I didn’t realize how much I needed this book. Phileena writes with a grace, clarity, and vulnerability that might make you think her work is simple, but it is anything but. The contents of Mindful Silence will change your life if you take them to heart. Phileena communicates the importance of contemplative practice in the gentlest of ways, but with an urgency and passion. She generously provides practical instruction on the most essential contemplative practices which serve as excellent starting points for beginners and lovely refreshers for the more seasoned contemplatives. The wisdom in these pages is so rich, I know I’ll be revisiting them in the future. No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, I hope you read this book and put it into practice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    When I started the book I was worried Heuertz was going to offer trite responses to “why bad things happen” but then as soon as that thought presented she silenced it by changing the conversation. She writes that contemplation is about reducing the suffering WE inflict on the world. Taking personal responsibility and then bringing that into a sacred space. I don't know that the book offered anything "new" to the contemplative prayer conversation but it's a beautiful and honest introduction into t When I started the book I was worried Heuertz was going to offer trite responses to “why bad things happen” but then as soon as that thought presented she silenced it by changing the conversation. She writes that contemplation is about reducing the suffering WE inflict on the world. Taking personal responsibility and then bringing that into a sacred space. I don't know that the book offered anything "new" to the contemplative prayer conversation but it's a beautiful and honest introduction into the contemplative practices. I’d recommend it to anyone new to contemplation or someone struggling with their current faith practices. One quote by Thomas Keating sums it up "If you stay on the spiritual journey long enough, the practices that sustained your faith will fall short. When this happens, it can be very disillusioning. But if you stay on the journey, we find out that this is actually an invitation to go deeper with God." She primarily references Merton, Keating, Rohr, and Julian of Norwich. Bourgeault’s Heart of Centering Prayer was more meaty as far as the benefits and practice but what I loved about this book, was how much I could relate to her journey into contemplation. She writes honestly about the doubt and emptiness she felt entering back into worship after her experiences overseas. She shares how silence doesn’t remove her doubt but makes space for it. Her voice was humble and refreshing to me. She also talks about her and Chris’s dog, Basil, which makes me love my dogs even more. I think that makes her a kindred spirit. It’s a great follow-up to Chris Heuertz’ Sacred Enneagram. It’s a great expansion of the last few chapters on how each number in the Enneagram integrates towards health.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rich Lewis

    Phileena begins her book with: “So, come with me as we explore these touchstones of contemplative spirituality: Withdrawing to Engage, Finding Liberation by Discernment, Discovering Darkness Is Light, Exploring a Deep Well, Dying for Life, Unknowing to Know.” Phileena explores these topics in six different chapters. “You’ll be guided and supported not only by me but by these prominent wisdom teachers within the Christian tradition: Thomas Merton, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Clare of Ass Phileena begins her book with: “So, come with me as we explore these touchstones of contemplative spirituality: Withdrawing to Engage, Finding Liberation by Discernment, Discovering Darkness Is Light, Exploring a Deep Well, Dying for Life, Unknowing to Know.” Phileena explores these topics in six different chapters. “You’ll be guided and supported not only by me but by these prominent wisdom teachers within the Christian tradition: Thomas Merton, Ignatius of Loyola, John of the Cross, Clare of Assisi, Mother Teresa, and the fourteenth-century anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing.” Each chapter includes a wise past or more contemporary guide for your journey. “Let me encourage you to engage in each of the practices at the end of the chapters: breath prayer, the prayer of examen, lectio divina, labyrinth, the welcoming prayer, and centering prayer.” At the conclusion of each chapter a contemplative practice is presented for the reader to learn and further explore. Let me share eight key points that I pulled from this wonderful book. True Self “Remember, the contemplative tradition has one main objective: the deconstruction of the self.” “Who are you? What external forces shape your identity? In what ways do you feel trapped inside a self that’s not the truest you?” “This is where the greatest meaning in life is found—in the freedom to let go of who we think we are. When we let go, we are brought into alignment with the divine will, so that in union with God we might make the world a better place.” Who are you? We are not our thoughts. We are not who our families, friends, community and employers tell you us we are. Something wonderful happens when we continue a daily contemplative practice. We let go of who we think we are and who we think we need to be. We rest in the rest of God. We let God shape and mold us into the person God intends us to be: our true self. Loved, Safe, No Need To Fear “Like many good-hearted religious people of Jesus’ day, we too often fail to get the good news that Jesus is trying to communicate—essentially, that we are loved, safe, and have no need to fear.“ God unconditionally loves us. Unfortunately, too many people do not believe this. The thought of sitting in silence with God is terrifying. It is in the silence that many painful thoughts deep within us begin to flow out. If we give it time, this same silence that once terrified us can become a silence that fills us with God’s love. (God’s love was always within us, we just did not realize it.) We begin to feel more and more God’s beloved child. Contemplative Prayer And Social Action “Contemplative prayer and social action must go hand in hand for effective social change. Otherwise our social action will too often end up being our imperfect will imposed on the world.” “In time, by withdrawing a few times a day for contemplative prayer, I realized that solitude was not a disconnection from the rest of the world but instead a necessary recalibration for more meaningful connection with the world.” “Over time, as we engage in contemplative practice, we become less self-absorbed and able to be of greater service to others.” We need a balance of prayer and action. Our times of prayer prepare us for our times of action. Silence teaches us who we are. Silence provides inner wisdom. Silence teaches us when to be silent and when to take no action. (Did you ever later regret something you said or did?) Silence teaches us that sometimes someone else, not us, is better suited for the action. Divine Alignment “When we are rooted in the ground of being and aligned with the heart of existence, there’s a different source of energy flowing through us.” “Through contemplative prayer we get in the flow of what God is already doing in and through us. It’s less about our effort and more about our alignment with the divine.” “When we’re grounded in love we are less likely to burn out, because love is directing our action, rather than unconscious, distorted motivations.“ It is a paradox. We do not need to work harder to get more done. I have found that silence teaches me how to work with a calm intensity and at the same time be even more productive. Silence seems to gift me with wisdom for my daily tasks. Cooperation “Consider whatever physical, emotional, or mental challenges you may be facing, and let go of being in control. It’s not about being perfectly well or perfectly physically fit. God is at work in you and through you—even in your limitations. All that is required of you is cooperation with what is.“ We must cooperate with God where we are at. In mid December, I began to experience pains in my hip, lower back and down my right leg into my foot. I went to the Chiropractor. There was no improvement. I went to an orthopedic doctor. The doctor prescribed a dose of steroids and sent me to physical therapy. Finally, some 2 1/2 months later I feel better. The pain has dissipated. The lesson I learned was that I must continue with my life. As Phileena mentions I found that God continued to work in and through me and I continued to cooperate with what was my situation. Dark Night “Gradually, through the mysterious season of darkness, God excavates our interior landscape, uprooting the layers of imperfections that keep us from fully cooperating with God in our world.” At one time or another you will probably experience a dark night of the soul. It is during this time that you will be challenged to operate by pure faith. You must continue to come back to your silent sit despite a feeling that God is absent. God is not absent and is still at work within you! Fruits “I am resolved to be free of fear, to be unafraid. To boldly and humbly live this one wild and precious life I’ve been given.” “You are stronger and more resilient than you realize.” Silence transforms us! Silence teaches me that even if I am afraid, I still need to take action and move forward. My barometer is if it excites me and it is an action that will not harm me or others, then I should move forward. Fear is never a reason not to move out of my comfort zone. This is how I grow. This is how I continue to become the person God intends me to be. Next Steps “The more of us who commit to the contemplative path—the path of seeing, observing, and taking responsibility for our life through meditative practice—the more possible it will be to experience God’s presence in the center of our being. From that center, we can build the world we all want to live in.” The contemplative path helps us open to and connect with the presence of God within. We rest in the rest of God’s love and naturally want to take this love into the world and serve others. When we do this, we continue to make the world a better place to live in for everyone. I encourage you to check out Phileena’s book, Mindful Silence! Rich Lewis www.SilenceTeaches.com

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Contains competent summaries of a wide range of seminal works in the history of Christian contemplative experience, the occasional heart warming and inspirational account of some of the author’s personal experiences with the contemplative life and helpful descriptions of a range of contemplative practices. Troubling to me was the author’s repeated focus on external badges of worldly greatness encountered on her path- at times it felt as though her purpose was to take us on a tour of great people Contains competent summaries of a wide range of seminal works in the history of Christian contemplative experience, the occasional heart warming and inspirational account of some of the author’s personal experiences with the contemplative life and helpful descriptions of a range of contemplative practices. Troubling to me was the author’s repeated focus on external badges of worldly greatness encountered on her path- at times it felt as though her purpose was to take us on a tour of great people she has met along the way, who somehow are expected to lend extra weight to her own account. The book has the tone of a tour guide of great people and places and sensational experiences. Fine wines enjoyed in the company of award winning chefs, meetings with saints and contemplative adepts whose presence always seems to cause the very atmosphere to thicken with gravitas. Her own experiences as an activist in the world of humanitarian aid and social justice invariably takes a back seat to these status symbols. Just when I felt as though her genuine experience was coming through, the writing turned away to another breathless account of some impressive encounter. In the end the the book felt distinctly self promoting and uncomfortably out of touch with the spirit of contemplative life.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ying Guo

    Phileena Heuertz is a voice seriously needed in Christianity today. Contemplative practice perhaps is not just an excavation and cleaning up of all the dirt, illusions, shame, and lies for us as individuals but also as collectives, communities, and gatherings of different faiths. Regardless of your beliefs, this book is a reminder of the possibilities of goodness and love in humanity and our true selves at a time where we are drowned by all the illusions of self, control, happiness that need to Phileena Heuertz is a voice seriously needed in Christianity today. Contemplative practice perhaps is not just an excavation and cleaning up of all the dirt, illusions, shame, and lies for us as individuals but also as collectives, communities, and gatherings of different faiths. Regardless of your beliefs, this book is a reminder of the possibilities of goodness and love in humanity and our true selves at a time where we are drowned by all the illusions of self, control, happiness that need to be excavated.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dana S.G. Myers

    I only chose a one star review based on Goodreads assertion that this means, "did not like it." I did not like this book - not based on any fault of the book or author; the premise simply isn't my cup of tea. I didn't like the book because I could not get into the idea of the practices the author purports and promotes. The book itself is a fine testament to the power of contemplation for those who are already convinced of its effectiveness; it falls short to convince nay-sayers or those unsure o I only chose a one star review based on Goodreads assertion that this means, "did not like it." I did not like this book - not based on any fault of the book or author; the premise simply isn't my cup of tea. I didn't like the book because I could not get into the idea of the practices the author purports and promotes. The book itself is a fine testament to the power of contemplation for those who are already convinced of its effectiveness; it falls short to convince nay-sayers or those unsure of the practice. At times the stories and anecdotes fell flat and felt inauthentic - as if the author were trying to convince herself of the effectiveness of her own techniques and strategies. For a non-Christian, the work might have held more power but for me, an ex-evangelical, I saw themes of all the cliche visions I was taught of "New Age" practices. In places I felt like the author was merely promoting her own center for contemplation and trying to encourage readers to visit out of curiosity of the practice. The chapter-end suggestions for faith practices felt inauthentic and fragmented, almost as if they were stuck in out of editorial necessity. I saw some rambling passages and places where there were simply incorrect assertions (for example, the term "lamenting" is not a medical term - I'm not sure where the author found this but no trained medical professional would use this term in common medical conversation - it felt strained to need to insert the idea that the term was a professional label for a manufactured condition). Passages about the adoption of the dog felt overdone. I rolled my eyes more than once while reading. Others, meanwhile, have found tremendous help and hope and happiness in the work and the author's calling of contemplative practice and I think for them that is a wonderful and tremendous response. As I said, I only tagged the book as one star because it is honest to say I did not like the book. I picked it up as an introduction to a practice I was once interested in but honestly the book discouraged me from wanting to practice "Christian" or other contemplation, because at the end of the day I just don't feel quite spiritual enough (and that's not a bad thing)- but having no straw bale, rice-paper insulated housing at my disposal in which to contemplate, no 40 minute - hours of free time with which to contemplate, and no guiding star spiritualist whom to follow in my contemplative practice - I think I'll stick to the podcasts and other diversions that the author seems to discourage. For those who loved the book and author's work, I'm thankful for her light in your life and I hope that other new readers experience the same life-changing experience from reading. Unfortuantely for me, as the one star says, I just "didn't like it."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mechthild

    A book for courageous devoted seekers of Jesus "Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation" was published by InterVarsity Press and written by Phileena Heuertz. She is the founder of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism, together with her husband Chris, that offers three different kinds of retreats, service of spiritual direction, and Enneagram workshops and consultations. Heuertz writes: "Contemplative spirituality is an invitation to wake up and die so you can truly live. Con A book for courageous devoted seekers of Jesus "Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation" was published by InterVarsity Press and written by Phileena Heuertz. She is the founder of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism, together with her husband Chris, that offers three different kinds of retreats, service of spiritual direction, and Enneagram workshops and consultations. Heuertz writes: "Contemplative spirituality is an invitation to wake up and die so you can truly live. Contemplative prayer is for courageous, devoted seekers ... Contemplative spirituality supports the way of following Jesus, which necessitates dying to self or emptying self to make room for the all-consuming presence of God." She defines contemplative spirituality as "simply a way to practice faith." According to Heuertz contemplative spirituality is for everyone. She includes that contemplative prayer allows the Spirit to flow more freely through us. According to her contemplative prayer and social action must go hand in had for effective social change. The contemplative practices at the end of each chapter are thought to be a help for the readers' application. The goal is that the exploration is not solely an intellectual one. Heuertz provides a good introduction into some contemplative practices. She reinforces her book with personal examples and references to the lives of historical persons. The book contains a few notes, but it is necessary to note that quite a few references are missing, e.g., her quote of Father Thomas (Keating): "We know we're making progress in the spiritual journey when the things that used to drive us up the wall now drive us only halfway up the wall." does not show at all if it was in a personal talk, a lecture, or in a book that he made that statement. The book does not cover spiritual practices like fasting or writing God's Word, it emphasizes on prayer. It is nothing for hermits, but for the readers who are interested to link contemplative prayer and social action. The complimentary copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley free of charge. I was under no obligation to offer a positive review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #MindfulSilence #NetGalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emma Grace

    “We don’t practice presence very well” *skateboards into your dms and shoves this book to the top of your tbr list so we can talk about it together over hot beverages* Yes, it’s a more mystic theology but is profound in many ways when it comes to the necessity of contemplation in the Christian prayer life and communication with G-d. Although I never had a faith crisis, I can relate to her time and pain spent in humanitarian aid in post-crisis Sierra Leone rife with child soldiers, amputations, an “We don’t practice presence very well” *skateboards into your dms and shoves this book to the top of your tbr list so we can talk about it together over hot beverages* Yes, it’s a more mystic theology but is profound in many ways when it comes to the necessity of contemplation in the Christian prayer life and communication with G-d. Although I never had a faith crisis, I can relate to her time and pain spent in humanitarian aid in post-crisis Sierra Leone rife with child soldiers, amputations, and sexual violence and how it makes one compassion fatigued/have negative physical bodily responses (yet we have far more capacity to experience Jesus and beauty in this pain). “You can learn how to hold that pain and let it instruct you and ultimately transform you” “Darkness is necessary for us to realize we are in G-d and G-d is in us...darkness serves to position G-d less as an object of awareness and more as the subject of existence“ “You know the opposite of faith isn’t doubt; it’s certainty” Would recommend as a good book to wrestle with and find some wisdom in traditional faith practices.

  12. 4 out of 5

    David

    a life-giving gift, good for the soul Each chapter of this book resonates with my own faith experience and formation. It is a gift and a guidebook that nourished my soul. The book offers valuable and life-giving guideposts in understanding my own transforming faith experience and spiritual practice. Phileena Heuertz beautifully and tenderly weaves together her own story in deepening contemplative spirituality, while sharing rich wisdom from both ancient and contemporary voices and spiritual pract a life-giving gift, good for the soul Each chapter of this book resonates with my own faith experience and formation. It is a gift and a guidebook that nourished my soul. The book offers valuable and life-giving guideposts in understanding my own transforming faith experience and spiritual practice. Phileena Heuertz beautifully and tenderly weaves together her own story in deepening contemplative spirituality, while sharing rich wisdom from both ancient and contemporary voices and spiritual practices This book will be my #1 recommendation to others seeking to understand and deepen their own faith experience and contemplative prayer practice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle Engle

    After reading another Rohr text and having an existential crisis I text my spiritual director friend and said something like, “sos my false self is my true self I don’t understand ugh.” Ha. Life. She recommended this book. It could not have been more helpful in grasping some of the deeper work of contemplation in layman’s terms. That said, it’s a book I want all my people to read. This is the essence of what I see missing in the spiritual formation practices of the modern day church movement. It After reading another Rohr text and having an existential crisis I text my spiritual director friend and said something like, “sos my false self is my true self I don’t understand ugh.” Ha. Life. She recommended this book. It could not have been more helpful in grasping some of the deeper work of contemplation in layman’s terms. That said, it’s a book I want all my people to read. This is the essence of what I see missing in the spiritual formation practices of the modern day church movement. It’s practical for those wanting to learn more about mindfulness, presence, awareness, contemplation (meditation), etc. In summary the work we want to do in the world, first must be done in us.

  14. 4 out of 5

    MG

    I would not have read MINDFUL SILENCE if someone had not recommended it. The title sounds like it would be sentimental new age mush. I am not even sure how they come up with it since it has very little to do with the content. The book is actually a survey of helpful contemplative practices along with profiles of Christian mystics who championed them (such as Merton, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, etc.) followed by practical tips on specific disciplines. I thought Huertz's description of the d I would not have read MINDFUL SILENCE if someone had not recommended it. The title sounds like it would be sentimental new age mush. I am not even sure how they come up with it since it has very little to do with the content. The book is actually a survey of helpful contemplative practices along with profiles of Christian mystics who championed them (such as Merton, Mother Teresa, John of the Cross, etc.) followed by practical tips on specific disciplines. I thought Huertz's description of the dark night of the soul was one of the most accessible I have ever read. Anyone interested in exploring deeper spiritual disciplines will find this a cherished guidebook.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Vukmirovich

    A Balance of Theory and Practice The thing I love about this book is the balance that Phileena takes between offering the concepts and theory (and theology) behind the practices presented but then helps walk us through the mechanics of practices themselves. This is an invitation to the contemplative life. Phileena also does a wonderful job of weaving narrative throughout, pulling from saints of the past to current stories from her own experience. Grateful for this book coming at the perfect time A Balance of Theory and Practice The thing I love about this book is the balance that Phileena takes between offering the concepts and theory (and theology) behind the practices presented but then helps walk us through the mechanics of practices themselves. This is an invitation to the contemplative life. Phileena also does a wonderful job of weaving narrative throughout, pulling from saints of the past to current stories from her own experience. Grateful for this book coming at the perfect time to renew my faith.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Perlmutter

    I was hoping to like this book more, but it honestly felt like I had to force myself to finish it. Her writing style isn’t very engaging at all. She had a few pithy paragraphs and I did a decent amount of underlining. But I felt at times I was reading a female Bob Goff as she regales us with the names of all the famous people she’s met and the incredible experiences she’s had that aren’t very relatable to the everyday person and at times come off self-aggrandizing. Some people with great ideas j I was hoping to like this book more, but it honestly felt like I had to force myself to finish it. Her writing style isn’t very engaging at all. She had a few pithy paragraphs and I did a decent amount of underlining. But I felt at times I was reading a female Bob Goff as she regales us with the names of all the famous people she’s met and the incredible experiences she’s had that aren’t very relatable to the everyday person and at times come off self-aggrandizing. Some people with great ideas just aren’t great writers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cory Jones

    It was fine. A little trite. She definitely has had some cool experiences, but almost all of her stories come with a happy ending or silver lining, which after a chapter or two starts to feel formulaic and inauthentic. Also, I expected more about mindfulness since the word is in the title, but she only mentions it once or twice. Mostly a book about Jesuit/Ignatian practices and not really about mindfulness.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    What a wonderfully timely and relevant treatise on the transformative power of contemplative spirituality. Phileena Heuertz is a living testament of what changes come with devotion to these ancient practices, and she explains them for a culture of Christians hungry for a different and deeper life of faith than the one offered to us in our first half of life. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  19. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    For those beginning the journey of contemplative activism, Phileena offers her own vulnerability and experiences, the wisdom of the mystics, and spiritual practices to sustain one’s vocation. This book is sure to inspire many seekers and offer practical steps in times of darkness. Thank you Phileena for sharing your story and your soul!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jack Kooyman

    This was a great way for me to become more familiar with the very long and rich history of Christian Contemplation along with learning about the various practices. Along the way, Phileena shares stories from her own journey of discovery of Christian contemplative spirituality and its relationship to action and our broken and hurting world with which she so deeply cares about.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Meeks

    I took my time reading and reflecting on how to add more solitude, silence and stillness to my life. This book has brought about some healthy changes in my life. Here are two of my favorite quotes: “Courage is speaking your mind with all your heart.” “To the degree that I am healed, free, and at peace, the world is healed, free, and at peace.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    This is a memoir/promotional piece for a contemplative action center established by the author. It does have some solid contemplative practices included, but that is not the primary purpose of the book. I do not doubt the spiritual journey of the author nor the intentions of the center, simply that the premise of the book is primarily about promoting the center.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Johnny Ortiz

    As a Presbyterian pastor I highly recommend reading this book and putting to practice what you learn. You will, let me emphasize this, you will enter into a deeper,richer and satisfying relationship with God and yourself. You will find your place in this life and his will for you.

  24. 5 out of 5

    scarlett pierson

    This book is so good. I must own it. It’s really great for understanding why contemplative prayer in our spiritual life is so important. She even ends every chapter with a practical practice. I highly suggest this book if your interested in learning more.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    Good information - I loved and will use the "Practice" sections at the end of most chapters, but overall not a huge fan of her writing style. Feels much like I'm grading a graduate student's research paper. Good information - I loved and will use the "Practice" sections at the end of most chapters, but overall not a huge fan of her writing style. Feels much like I'm grading a graduate student's research paper.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Audiobook read by the author. Encouraging. She vulnerably shares her hurts, pains, doubts, struggles with God.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christen

    This is a good primer for beginners just wetting their toes in contemplative practice and have yet to encounter Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault and the classical mystics.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    A great book on meditation/mindfulness from a Christian perspective. It was a joy to read. It is more like 4.5 stars, but no half stars can be given. Very down to Earth and truthful.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shanna Jones

    Practical prayer and meditation exercises for Christians seeking simple contemplative prayer practices.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Von

    I gravitate (pardon the pun) more towards Chris's writings for some reason and I'm not sure why. They are clearly kindred spirits which is beautiful on many levels. I gravitate (pardon the pun) more towards Chris's writings for some reason and I'm not sure why. They are clearly kindred spirits which is beautiful on many levels.

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