What is the difference between the Franciscans and Jesuits? How does a monk’s life differ from a missionary’s? What are the origins of these traditions? Legacy of the Founders explores how four distinct types of Christian spirituality – monasticism, mendicancy, apostolic ministry, and missionary life – evolved over the centuries as a response to the needs of successive eras in the history of the Church. All of these became ‘schools’ of spiritual formation which gave rise to the development of numerous religious communities. Examining thirteen of these different communities, the author details the historical backgrounds and the religious, social, and political environments in which they arose, and introduces the reader to the men and women who founded them, and to the beliefs and motivations that led each of them to create something new.
Covering nearly two thousand years of church history, this book shows how the story of the church as a whole has been enriched by these often controversial figures whose radical choice to follow the Spirit resulted in the emergence of a diversity of spiritual lifestyles.
Introduction: Schools of Spirituality in the Christian Tradition
Part I: Monastic Spirituality
1. Augustinian Spirituality: Hearts Aflame for the Trinity
2. Benedictine Spirituality: Christian Monastic Origins
3. Cistercians, Trappists, and Trappistines: Contemplatives in Community
Part II: Mendicant Spirituality
4. Franciscan Spirituality: Mendicants as Friars Minores
5. Dominican Spirituality: Friars Preachers of the Truth
6. Carmelite Spirituality: A Mendicant and Mystical Style
Part III: Ministerial and Active Apostolic Spirituality
7. Ignatian Spirituality: Spirituality in a World of Action
8. Redemptorist Spirituality: Preachers to the Populace
9. Salesian Spirituality: Living the Compassion of Jesus in Society
10. Marist Spirituality: A Marian Missionary Style
Part IV: Missionary Spirituality
11. Spirituality of the Spiritans: Missionaries and Educators to the Poor and Abandoned
12. Maryknoll Spirituality: Missionaries of Presence and Purpose
13. Spirituality of the Society of African Missions: Dedication to Africa
Endorsements and Reviews
The Catholic Church has been blessed with great spiritual men and women who became the initiators of religious movements and the founders of religious orders. Nicki Verploegen brings her wealth of experience and understanding to the task of unfolding the development of these various spiritualities. This book will help each of us on the spiritual journey understand and deepen our own connection with God through the lens of history.
Paul J. Coury, CSsR, Director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center, Tucson, Arizona
A lucid presentation of the movements of religious life and spirituality, expressing enthusiasm with and fascination for God in the two thousand years of history of the Catholic Church. The author traces with clarity the change from monastic to mendicant, to ministerial and active apostolic spirituality, finally moving into missionary spirituality. A fascinating account of the journey of religious Orders and Congregations as they evolved, moving with the signs of the times.
Ferrera Weinzierl, OP, Dominican Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Zimbabwe
In this gem of a book, Nicki Verploegen reveals her rootedness in spirituality, particularly western Christian spirituality. Her introduction to four schools of spirituality, explanation of why each rose to prominence in its religious, social, and political milieu, why each is still relevant to us today, and how we can make full use of each in our lives proved helpful and inspiring. The questions and bibliography at the end of each chapter make the book a useful tool for personal or group discernment. This book should be on the to-read list of every serious contemporary spiritual seeker.
Thomas Wright, Society of African Missions
This compilation of church history and spirituality is a valuable resource for all those involved in retreat work and spiritual direction as well as for anyone who wishes to deepen his or her prayer life. Drawing on her own experience as a teacher and spiritual mentor on many continents, Nicki Verploegen fills a gap in the religious literature available for those who wish to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the wealth of prayer forms and consecrated ways of life that have developed within Christianity over the centuries. Easy to read yet full of deep insights, this overview of a diverse range of spiritual traditions will appeal to spiritual seekers of all ages, professions, and religious persuasions.
Janice McLaughlin, MM, Maryknoll Sisters
Undergraduate readers are … likely to have their imaginations stirred by the range of ways of following Christ amid changing realities … By focusing on the legacy left by the founders, Verploegen proposes both a historically grounded rationale for the missiological task of ongoing attunement to the signs of the times as well as a foundation upon which ‘new geniuses’ can build as they forge faithful spiritualities suited to the unique challenges of the twenty-first century.
Christopher B. James, in Missiology: An International Review, Vol 41, Issue 4