Recommended Reading: Images of Pilgrimage

Recommended Reading: Images of Pilgrimage

“Images of pilgrimage inform the consciousness and aspirations of every human culture, from the most primitive to the most sophisticated, in modern as well as in ancient times, in every quarter of the globe. These images belong somehow to the essence of our humanity; they are essential and permanent features of our spiritual landscape. Even if we deny the images, and seek to banish them, and lose ourselves in immediate occupations, still they impinge upon our consciousness, in the sense of emptiness and futility they leave behind them.”

This is a quote from Images of Pilgrimage: Paradise and Wilderness in Christian Spirituality, a collection of six addresses on the theme of pilgrimage which were delivered by the Revd. Dr. Robert Crouse to a clergy retreat held at St. Augustine’s Monastery, Nova Scotia, in the 1980s. Dr. Crouse was a warm supporter of the PBSC from its very beginnings and was for many years the Society’s Honorary President, and is regarded by many as one of the finest contemplative theological minds of our age. The book provides a theologically rich and yet deeply literary account of the Christian life understood as pilgrimage. It moves chronologically from pilgrimage figures in ancient pagan sources, to the Bible, and then as an animating theme in theological tradition from Augustine to Dante. Pilgrimage is shown to be central to what constitutes a Christian life, indeed a human life universally conceived, and to the whole work of the church as revealing through time the nature of our shared humanity.

The book was produced last fall under the auspices of the “Works of Robert Crouse” project, which was undertaken by former students of Dr. Crouse who wished to share what they had received from their teacher: “a profound philosophical thinking that gathers up the riches of the Western intellectual tradition, interpreted by caritas”. On, their recently launched website, they write:

​“Robert Crouse sought, in his teaching and preaching, to recover for our time a vision of human life as pilgrimage. His vision of human existence speaks to our current experiences of loss and spiritual confusion by recalling an account of our common humanity as both moved by and fulfilled in love. His writings provide for us a redeeming work of recollection and spiritual renewal pointing to the pilgrimage of hope that alone does not disappoint.  For the doubter, Crouse offers certainty; for the sufferer, hope; for the weakened, strength; for the pilgrim, a way.  With breathtaking precision of thought firmly grounded in the word of God and the theology of the church through the ages, he inspires all with a desire to discover this universal and yet intensely personal way of pilgrimage to the new Jerusalem.”

The “Works of Robert Crouse” project has more recently produced two other volumes comprising a collection of forty-seven of Dr. Crouse’s sermons, which provide devotional, doctrinal, and poetical commentaries on the Christian year.  Dr. Crouse invites all who seek to walk ancient spiritual paths to follow the traditional readings of the church through prayerful seasons of famine and feast, repentance and glory, death and rebirth, into a transformed spirit, a converted heart and a renewed mind. These sermons are sign-posts to guide contemporary souls along the route followed by countless pilgrims before them. They invite us to travel a sure spiritual path of self-discovery and sanctification that is still available to us today.”

The title of the first book is The Soul’s Pilgrimage, Volume I: From Advent to Pentecost.  A preface by former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams highlights some of the connecting threads of the sermons – in particular the theme of divine friendship offered by the Gospel. The second book, entitled The Soul’s Pilgrimage, Volume II: The Descent of the Dove and the Spiritual Life, completes the church year.  In these sermons we learn how to allow Christ to live in and through us as we enjoy the riches of both the second half of the Temporale (the Sundays of Pentecost/Trinity season) and the Sanctorale (the feasts of the saints). These two volumes bring to life the perennial truth of the church year as a path of holiness for all believers who want to enter into its pattern of spiritual growth and nourishment.

Images of Pilgrimage and The Soul’s Pilgrimage: Volume I are available for purchase on Amazon, Indigo, and Barnes and Noble.  The Soul’s Pilgrimage: Volume II is expected to be published later in 2024.

Recommended Reading: Images of Pilgrimage