Book: Spirituality and the Gentle Life
Author: Adrian van Kaam, C.S.Sp.
A collection of reflections on spirituality and gentleness

Part I: The Gentle Life Style

Spiritual approach to Gentility

Spiritual life may be most simply defined as the art and discipline of presence to the Sacred. To make it easier for me to be faithful to this life, I must foster certain virtues that facilitate living in the Divine Presence ( pg. 9)

Because we are fallen men, gentleness cannot reach perfection outside the realm of grace and the redeeming love of Jesus. (pg. 11)

Spirituality and Gentility

Gentleness is an attitude... it is enkindled by something that is precious but vulnerable. (pg 16)

Behind each one's strength is hiding a fallen person in need of redemption, a person precious in the eyes of God because of the unique treasure he is meant to be in time and eternity. (pg 17)

For some deeply spiritual people all creatures are suffused by divine love. Every creature may evoke in them a loving gentility. The more they become spiritual, the more the world lights up for them as a symbol of the Holy Presence. (pg 18)

A first step to inner gentleness is to gratefully love myself as a unique divine gift and to admit and accept my weakness which makes me the fragile earthen vessel of this treasure. As long as I pretend that I am strong, that I by myself can live up to the unique eminence God calls me to in Christ, I cannot be gentle with myself. (pg 21)

Most fragile is my presence to the Divine Presence; only grace can maintain it. Awareness of the Divine is subtle and sublime, of such fragility and finesse that it may disappear the moment my willfulness and pride take over and try to force the felt presence of the Infinite Guest. (pg 22)

The Gentle Life Style

In living the gentle life style, it becomes easier for me to pray, to meditate, to stay attuned to God's presence. Gentility stills and quiets the greediness and aggressiveness of the ego. A silenced ego allows me to center myself in my divine ground. (pg 28)

Any true gentility, human or divine, mellows the ego, not by weakening its strength but by diminishing its arrogance, its false exclusiveness, its pretense of ultimacy. (pg 29)