With this book I
want to introduce you to a special education project. This material
was originally designed as a correspondence course, to help deepen the
spiritual life through use of selected and tested materials. This
book is intended to be used at home in the midst of everyday activities
and not only in special times set apart for contemplation, retreats and
spiritual training. The original group of participants, approximately
forty persons, represented different age groups, occupations and religious
The first participants
made a daily minimum commitment of twenty minutes over a fifteen week period
barring unforeseen circumstances,. This commitment of time was to
be used for silence, prayer and meditation using previously selected materials,
generally a biblical text.
The question asked in the beginning
of this project was whether it was possible for a group of people to be
led to new spiritual experiences through such a correspondence course.
Was it possible that some participants could come to significant spiritual
discoveries that could help them, in the beginning at least, come to new
understandings of inner attitudes and dynamics frequently present in the
spiritual life? How might they become aware of these experiences
in themselves and also in others?
Now in looking back over
our common effort, I am grateful I can give an affirmative answer to these
questions. Nearly every participant discovered new dimensions of
their inner and outer faith journey in working together with others.
For many a depth of spiritual experience was reached that went far beyond
happens it is not "achieved" simply because of certain methods, but it
is always a matter of God's grace. There is no question about that!
This entire book is based on that conviction. Even when we have done
everything possible to prepare the soil where the seed of God's Word can
"fall" (to use a biblical image), it still remains God alone who gives
the increase of growth, maturation and fruit.
Since in this project
God had given deeply felt, almost tangible blessings, I saw this as an
obligation to continue to make available to a larger audience what we had
attempted in our small groups. To do this we had to discontinue the
direct correspondence program. This book is directed to those searching
for a deepened spiritual life either as individuals or in small groups
who desire to go this way together. This book is also intended for
pastoral counselors who would like to be spiritual companions for others.
Although the correspondence aspect was abandoned, the direct contact with
the reader is not lost, for even in this more formal approach it is clear
that the intent of this book is to be a living conversation with the reader.
May God's blessing
be upon this effort and may God accompany all who enter the journey out
of a longing and yearning for God and a new fulfillment in life.
Finally, I want to thank all
those without whose help this book would not have achieved its present
form. Above all my family who relieved me of many tasks during this
work deserve thanks. Likewise, I want to heartily thank all the participants
of the correspondence course. Through their collegial involvement,
their faithfully returned assignments and their alert critique they contributed
substantially to the new shaping of the course in the form of this book.
I want to thank
especially those who held the copyrights of quotations and pictures for
their permission, often given generously, for the publishing of this material.
I must also say thanks to those whose prompt typing of the manuscript allowed
me to meet my deadline. And not least I want to thank the publishers
for all their help and my reader, Ms. Christine Müller, who invested
her energy fully into the completion of a good end product.