Even now, four centuries after his death, the writings of the Spanish spiritual master St. John of the Cross continue to inspire both Christians and non-Christians alike. Deeply rooted in Christian spirituality, but with a perspective that resonates with seekers of all spiritual orientations, John of the Cross offers wise guidance to those who are interiorly drawn to deeper contemplative intimacy with God. His teachings, however, are not always easy to understand. In this discussion group, author James Finley will lead us in exploration of the "dark night of soul," the purification of the senses, guidelines for the practice of contemplative prayer, the primacy of love, and other basic themes found in the writings of St. John of the Cross. Those with all levels of understanding of the saint's teachings are invited to take part. An emphasis, however, will be on helping those new to St. John of the Cross to acquire a basic understanding and appreciation of his insights into the mysterious process of contemplative self-transformation.

About Jim Finley, the Beliefnet member who proposed this group

James Finley's reflections on contemplative living have their origins in the five years he lived at the cloistered Trappist monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemani, studying with Thomas Merton. Today, James Finley is a psychotherapist in private practice in Santa Monica, Calif. Finley also conducts silent retreats throughout the United States and Canada, where he helps participants draw from both Christian and Buddhist sources to identify the fundamentals of contemplative living. Finley is the author of several books, including "Merton's Palace of Nowhere," "The Awakening Call," and his newest book on spirituality, "The Contemplative Heart."

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