• Author: Pat Fosarelli
  • Paperback: 128 pages  ($9 to $12)
  • Publisher: Ave Maria Press (June 28, 2010)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594712180

This reader-friendly handbook introduces ten of the most prominent traditions–including Franciscan, Cistercian, Ignatian, and Mystic spirituality and recounts a brief history of each tradition’s founder, highlights its characteristics, and provides the prayer methods and spiritual practices for each. A chapter titled “What’s Right for Me?” guides spiritual seekers in discerning which path to prayer is the best match for their personality, needs, and circumstances.

For someone who is searching for a way of prayer, this short book is a perfect introduction into ten of the most popular prayer traditions from the 2000 year history of the Catholic Church. Although the word “prayer” is used to describe these traditions, the word spirituality needs to be included to convey a complete description, for these traditions include other significant elements besides prayer.

So what is a tradition, and why should you consider one? From page 3: “The purpose of a spiritual tradition is to provide a means for someone to draw closer to God. A tradition provides rules and guidelines for how one might approach God from that traditions perspective. Many of us need structure.” Think about that. Do you want to draw closer to God? Do you know how? Is your relationship with God today the same as it was last year? Perhaps your relationship with God is the same as it was ten years ago? So what shall you do about that? This book list ten of the most popular methods for growing closer to God. You could pick one (without having to join a religious order), or you could pick ideas or practices from two or more traditions.

Each chapter follows a similar formula: 1) a short history of the founder, 2) the work of the tradition such as charity to the poor or sick,  3) vows and other life style methods (such as silence), 4) their devotions and prayer life, 5) a short list of the famous people in the tradition, 6) resources for further information about that tradition (for example: books with lots more details).

The ten specific traditions are worth noting (including the year the founder died):

  1. Augustinian (St. Augustine 430)
  2. Benedictine (St. Benedict 550)
  3. Cistercian (St Bernard of Clairvaux 1153)
  4. Carmelite (about the year 1200, however no one person founded the Order)
  5. Dominican (St. Dominic 1221) From page 54: The Dominicans were instrumental in the development and promotion of the prayer that we know as the Rosary.”
  6. Franciscan (St. Francis of Assisi 1226)
  7. Ignatian (St. Ignatious of Loyola, 1556)
  8. Salesian (St. Francis De Sales, 1622)
  9. Lay spirituality, Today’s Lay spirituality is probably best thought of in light of two documents from the Second Vatican Counsel: Lumen Gentium, and Apostolicam Actuositatem.
  10. Mystic spirituality also has no founder, descriptions of these types of experiences can be found in many places in the Bible, both old and new testaments.

Think about how old these religious traditions are.  How many social groups, clubs, companies, schools, or other organizations have existed for 400, 500, 1000 or even 1500 years.

So where is the path of your life leading you? Are you happy on your current path? Will your path lead you to eternal life and indescribable happiness? This short, inexpensive and easy to read book lists ten spiritual traditions that will lead you to a path of holiness, because they will lead you closer to God.