Book Review

L'Osservatore Romano, Vatican City

Published in the Weekly English Edition of L'Osservatore Romano, May 21, 2021, (Cf. p. 7).


JONATHAN MONTALDO

The Marquis of Vauvenargues’ maxim that “A truly new and original book would be one which made people love old truths,” came to mind reading Vincent Pizzuto’s Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life. His fresh invitation to re-examine Christian contemplative prayer is academically sound and accessible while inspiring practices of praying solely focused on an embodied person and a human heart, Jesus of Nazareth whose Spirit indwells and pervades all in in whom all things are reconciled and unified (Col 1:20).

This Professor of Sacred Scripture at the University of San Francisco is fully engaged as an Episcopalian Vicar of St. Columba’s Episcopal Contemplative Church in Inverness, California; he is as personally charismatic as are the gifts of insight and beauty throughout his book. Contemplating Christ is a contemporary retrieval of a mystical Christian tradition as erotic for union with Christ as it is challenging as a discipline of love that must be continually incarnated in daily life. Fr. Pizzuto’s online retreats during these Covid times have incited me to worship with his community on Sundays to enjoy his intellectual and emotional attachments to the Word of God that undergird his weekly sermons. His academic rigor communicates through the discipline of his pastoral practice as he leads a community with divergent but blending attitudes to Christian discipleship (It’s California!).

The contemplative life is not simply about adopting meditative methods and techniques but about entering an interior silence that deepens our relationship with the triune God who dwells within. Contemplatives are integral to the life of the church and the world not because of any claims to so-called mystical experiences but because of the fullness with which they commit themselves to the Incarnate One. “I have come that they might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

An embodied reading of Contemplating Christ garners perennial, originally beautiful, theological “ information” while it reinvigorates a renewed desire for spiritual “transformation”. I trust you note my insistence in com- mending to you this professor and pastor’s salvific work.

Those who strive to embody the Scriptures must approach them not merely with the critical distance of the historian but with the receptivity of a disciple, not as a tourist but as a pilgrim.

Vincent Pizzuto Contemplating Christ: The Gospels and the Interior Life (Liturgical Press, 2018). Paper, 209 pp.