July 25, 2017

Mary’s latest book, an introduction to Julian of Norwich’s “Revelations of Divine Love”.

julian cover1.inddMany people are familiar with the phrase “All shall be well” but do not know much, if anything, about Julian of Norwich, the fourteenth-century English mystic who wrote those words. Thomas Merton declared her “without a doubt one of the most wonderful of all Christian voices,” and former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams says that her writings “may well be the most important work of Christian reflection in the English language.”

This accessible introduction to Julian’s Revelations of Divine Love, an extended reflection on a series of her mystical visions, includes an informative introduction that addresses the historical, cultural and sociological context of Julian’s life and writings. Mary Earle’s facing-page commentary focuses on Julian’s profoundly hopeful vision of humanity and God, her creative imagery and her rigorous honesty about the spiritual life. Drawing directly from Julian’s text, Earle addresses a variety of topics essential to understanding Julian’s mysticism, including the infinite nature of God, the life of prayer, God’s suffering with us, the eternal and undying life of the soul, the motherhood of Jesus and the motherhood of God, “all shall be well” and more.

Julian of Norwich is available from Skylight Paths Publishing,  Amazon.com and Material Media.

A review of Mary’s book on Julian of Norwich, by Carl McColman

“For readers who may want a more concise introduction to Julian’s wisdom, with annotations to amplify the meaning, Mary C. Earle’s Julian of Norwich: Selections from Revelations of Divine Love—Annotated & Explained (Skylight Paths) offers an insightful overview of the anchoress’s main themes. It’s part of the “Skylight Illuminations” series from Skylight Paths Publishers, a series of a variety of sacred texts and mystical writings from the world’s great traditions, arranged with selections from the text on one page and annotations on the facing page. It’s a user-friendly way to read an annotated text, and since it only consists of selections, which are arranged topically, it’s a great overview of Julian’s thought. Chapter topics include “Images of God,” “Our Relationship to God,” “Prayer and Faith,” and of course, the two points for which Julian is most renowned: “The Motherhood of God” and “All Shall Be Well.” Earle’s commentary is insightful but not overly academic, making this a superb overview of this mystic’s thought.”  (from Carl McColman’s blog entry “Three Wonderful New Julian of Norwich Books” http://www.carlmccolman.com/2013/10/10/three-wonderful-new-julian-of-norwich-books/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook)

Review of Marvelously Made From The Anglican Theological Review/Spring 2013.

MarvelouslyMade225Marvelously Made: Gratefulness and the Body. By Mary C. Earle. Harrisburg, Pa: Morehouse Publishing, 2012. xii + 100 pp. $14.00 (paper).

From the very earliest decades of Christian belief, with the proclamation of the incarnation of God in Christ as its central puzzle, Christians have fretted over the relationship between the body and holiness. Is the body the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19), or an unruly servant that needs to be subdued (“I punish my body and enslave it,” 1 Cor 9:27)? Since the mid-1990s, theological books on the subject of human embodiment have proliferated, mainly as a corrective to centuries of Christian ambivalence about, suspicion of, or even abhorrence of the body and its inescapable needs, vulnerabilities, and desires. But while we are in the midst of so much concentrated thought about the body, it can still seem that the body itself has had no chance to speak. Mary Earle’s most recent book fills this gap. Through a series of practical exercises, she opens up the body as the primary text of God’s speech in and through human beings.

Marvelously Made is divided into three sections, the first laying down the basic theological foundations for Earle’s understanding of the sacredness of physicality; the second a series of nine meditations on specific organs of the human body (such as the stomach, pancreas, bones, lungs, skin); and the third a set of four distinct areas of practice that link the needs of an individual body with the needs of others (concern for clean water and abundant food; organ and blood donation as spiritual practices, etc.). One indication of the way in which this is not another book about embodiment, but a book of embodiment can be gleaned from a look at the endnotes and suggested reading. Earle’s sources fall mainly into two camps: modern classics of spirituality (e.g., Steindl-Rasts’ Gratefulness: the Heart of Prayer) and poetry (Wendell Berry, Philip Larkin); and medical resources, such as interviews with medical doctors, studies provided by the National Institutes of Health, and the like. Her genius is to put these two very different ways of thought to work together, as the reader is guided through the reflections and practices. Like a weaver at the loom, Earle moves her shuttle back and forth, from poetry to science, from the spirit to the details of the body, weaving human wholeness out of gratitude. At all times, Earle balances practices of looking within and practices of looking outside oneself at the simple fact of others’ embodiment, and the pull their needs justly exert on our consciences.

In the past, Earle has written on prayer and the lives of the saints, living with illness, the desert mothers, and Celtic spirituality. These are all popular subjects, but that very popularity can dissuade a good writer from tackling one of them. Earle is that rarest of popular writers, one who does not speak until she has thoroughly plumbed a subject with her own experiences of prayer and intellectual exploration. Consequently, she can be trusted as one who knows where the heart of a matter lies. In Marvelously Made, she explores the wisdom of the human body, the temple of bone and flesh that somehow manages to house both ourselves and the breath of God. This is a book at the boundary of the fields of spirituality and practical theology, written for devotional use by laity. Its importance lies in the way it gives unencumbered access to the deep things of God for ordinary people. This is exactly the kind of creative scholarly work that the church needs, an example of how the fearlessly engaged practice of one’s faith can lead to a more vibrant existence. Personally, I would like to give a copy to every one of my students before they experience CPE, and come up hard against the mystery and the fragility of human bodies. This would make an excellent book for all who make pastoral visits, lay or ordained, and for lay eucharistic visitors, as it speaks not about “that person in the hospital bed,” but about us, about the divine implications of the holy and embodied existence that we all share.

Marvelously Made

Church Publishing announces Mary C. Earle’s  book on the spirituality of the body, “Marvelously Made.”

Available through Amazon.com and Material Media.

Each chapter in Marvelously Made focuses on a vital part of the body (the heart, the lungs, the brain, the joints); relates an anecdote from the author’s experience; provides reader-friendly (i.e., not overly technical) information about the wonders of the organ or body part, and offers a prayer and a set of gratitude practices physical and spiritual meditation exercises to deepen the reader s appreciation of the body. [Read more...]

Celtic Christian Spirituality

Mary’s book, Celtic Christian Spirituality: Essential Writings Annotated and Explained, is now available from:
SkyLight Paths
Barnes and Noble
Material Media

“With uncanny grace and deftness, Earle has woven the soul-wrenching beauty of Celtic spirituality and the joy of contextual understanding into a seamless and deeply satisfying whole. The result, like the biblical Psalter itself, is a loving companion for all the times and seasons of our lives.”  Phyllis Tickle, Compiler, The Divine Hours

Sustaining Abundant Life

Available from Amazon.com

Lifting Women’s Voices: Prayers to Change the World

This stunning collection of prayers from women throughout the Anglican Communion is organized according to themes of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.

It makes direct connections between women’s personal lives and global concerns of women everywhere, showing the interrelatedness, for example, between a woman’s prayer for her infant in America and the plight of child laborers in developing countries.

The prayer selections are representative of women from of all parts of the Anglican world. Members of the editorial board include Jane Williams, Phoebe Griswold, plus women from Asia, South America, and the Middle East

Sophia’s Table

Covita Moroney of SAVAE with Mary Earle

Tracing one woman’s rediscovery of her personal, inner connection to the Divine, the songs from Sofia’s Table echo experiences of many women on this path.

Covita Moroney’s open-hearted vocals, soaring melodies, and rich instrumentations invite the listener into a sacred space of unconditional acceptance, where everyone has a place. All are welcome to partake of– Sofia’s– banquet.

The vivid imagery of Mary Earle’s poetry is woven into this recording. Read by the author, these works complement a musical journey of discovery and wholeness.

Days of Grace

These meditations on living with illness are enriched with the music of Ben Bowen King’s “The Laying on of Songs”, available from Amazon.com or CD Baby.

“This rich, wise, and comforting guide for those living with illness is a handbook of deep knowledge gleaned through lived experience. It is a blend of realism and humility, of questions and mystery – all delivered with Mary’s simple yet elegant style. She unmasks many illusions and reminds us that though our lives are “short and uncertain,” there is unfathomable power each time we realize that we have another day.”

Paula D’Arcy, author of Gift of the Red Bird and Waking Up to This Day (2009). [Read more...]

The Desert Mothers

Spiritual Practices from Women of the Wilderness

“The Desert Mothers can lead us to see our daily lives as ‘the very habitat of God,’ and show us ‘ways of becoming new.’”

Deborah Smith Douglas, author of The Praying Life: Seeking God in All Things.

“The Desert Mothers are often overshadowed by the better known Desert Fathers, but these women who went to the wilderness to pursue deep prayer deserve to be heard. Mary Earle has taken nine concise sayings from the Desert Mothers and explored them in original ways.” [Read more...]