A series of letters written to young college man about the nature of prayer in general and specifically contemplative prayer, Letters to Jacob addresses questions concerning the origin, role, and nature of a renewed way of praying. The book responds to questions such as "Is this really part of the Christian tradition," "Is it a New Age import from Buddhism or some other -ism?" Take a rare look at the contemplative life from the inside!
For thirty years, Fr. John-Julian has practiced contemplative prayer daily as a monk of the Order of Julian of Norwich. The book is a record of letters of advice written to a young seminarian who was interested in investigating the practical dimensions of the contemplative way for himself, full of questions: "What is all this contemplative prayer people are talking about these days? I never heard anything about that back in my parish. Is this really part of the Christian tradition or some New Age import from Buddhism or some other -ism?" The answering letters have been edited, re-written, expanded, and polished into Letters to Jacob: Mostly About Contemplative Prayer (with a nod to C.S. Lewis)a rare look at the contemplative life from the inside, with a series of cautions and warnings based on the realities of the contemplative way, not some intellectual concept. It faces into the unpopular but essential dynamics that few others have dared to present, with all the masks removed. There are a few theological side trips as well, exploring subjects like the nature of God, sin and repentance, salvation, good liturgy, the keeping of rules, and the spiritual value of bad posture.
Father John-Julian, OJN, is an Episcopal priest and monk. He has been an actor, a professor (University of Rhode Island and Hampshire College), a parish priest (Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Connecticut), a TV commentator, a camp director, a bookseller, the Dean of a seminary (Seminary of the Streets in New York), a contemplative monk, a director of Social Worker training (Social Service Institute in Connecticut), an organizational consultant, an author of fifteen books, a founder of a religious order (the contemplative, semi-enclosed monastic Order of Julian of Norwich in Wisconsin which incorporates both monks and nuns with equal status under the same traditional vows), a waiter, a human relations trainer, a carpenter, a founder of a theater, a psychotherapist, a spiritual director, a hermit, a builder of three churches, an anti-war activist, a member of NAACPall of this perfect background for a contemplative! Fr. John-Julian has tasted virtually everything the world has to offer and, finally, has chosen to live a life directly contrary to all that, a life constituted of the silence and solitude of contemplative monasticism. He has studied Julian of Norwich each day for over a quarter century.
"When I finished the last page of your Letters to Jacob, the words popped into my mind: Merton is not dead! Honestly, John, I have not read as fine a new piece in ages. Letters to Jacob faces the real mystical challenges and in only a few clear words has been able to tell the truth! I swear Fr. Louis must be jumping for joy in whatever circle of heaven he finds himself to read your book. Thank you is far too weak an appreciation to you."Dotti Jeglosky
"John-Julian has spent a lifetime advising souls, and writes about prayer in a way that may be surprising--even unsettling--at first….This little book is perfect for those who don't understand why educated people of the 21st century continue to pray, and is a deep well of wisdom for those that do."
Royce D. Miller, Oblate of the Order of Julian of Norwich
"At last! A discussion of prayer by an expert that corrects errors, some of which are 500 or more years old. It does it gently, meaningfully, and above all, usefully. And all of this is done in the wondrous prose of Fr. John-Julian, OJN, steeped as he is in the great English Mystics."
Rev. E. Perren Hayes, retired priest, Biblical scholar