Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, By Phileena Heuertz

Pilgrimage of a Soul

Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life

Revised Edition

by Phileena Heuertz
Foreword by Shauna Niequist

Pilgrimage of a Soul
  • Length: 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: October 03, 2017
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: 4635
  • ISBN: 9780830846351

*affiliate partner

You can only go so far for so long before you find the limits of yourself. For Phileena Heuertz that moment arrived, mercifully, around the same time as a sabbatical to mark her twelfth year of service with an international organization working with some of the most vulnerable people in the world.

Activists often see contemplation as a luxury, the sort of thing necessarily set aside in the quest to see the world set aright. But in Pilgrimage of a Soul we see that contemplation is essential—not only to a life of sustained commitment to the justice and righteousness of God, but to the fully human life that the Holy Spirit beckons each of us to.

Tracing seven movements from a kind of sleepfulness to a kind of wakefulness, Phileena shows us that life is a journey that repeats itself as Christ leads us deeper and deeper into our true selves and a truer knowledge of God. This revised edition includes practices with each chapter, as well as questions for group discussion and individual reflection.

"For some reason we imagined that just the 'thinking life' would elicit and feed the Christian spirit. The soul is fed much more by the 'symbolic life' too, where action and contemplation meet, where the inner and the outer learn to operate as one, where words become flesh, where God is no longer just an idea but the heartbeat of life itself. This marvelous book gives you many avenues by which to live such a full and enfleshed life. Phileena tells you to stop 'thinking about it' and to try it! That is when it works."

Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"A courageous and groundbreaking effort to build a bridge between those two communities of Christians, still largely unknown to each other, where the heart of Christ burns so brightly: the evangelical and the contemplative."

The Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, Ph.D., Episcopal priest, author and retreat leader

"Pilgrimage of a Soul is a delightful book that engaged me every step of the way. I was engrossed with Phileena's journey as she entwined her personal story with the account of a pilgrimage in Spain and theological insights she gained along the way. I heartily recommend it to all who are searching for a deeper commitment to God and to the contemplative way of life."

Christine Sine, author, contemplative, activist and executive director of Mustard Seed Associates

"Part memoir, part guidebook for the contemplative activist, Pilgrimage of a Soul reads like a good conversation with an old friend. Heuertz's honesty about her own struggles created a space for me to see how wisdom from a host of spiritual guides speaks to my life. It's a gift to all of us, but especially to a guy like me who needs the graciousness of prophetic women like Phileena. I finished the book and felt refreshed, eager to enjoy a walk around my neighborhood."

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of New Monasticism and God's Economy

"In Pilgrimage of a Soul, Phileena Heuertz does something quite countercultural: she goes on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James in Spain and then on sabbatical in Durham, North Carolina. However, this is a travelogue like no other. Her journey becomes ours as she accompanies us through important landmarks of the spiritual journey: awakening, darkness, transformation, union and points in-between. In doing so, she provides a wise and helpful guidebook for the spiritual life. I've heard it said that the best writing is so individual that it has a universal appeal. And Phileena's book has just that!"

Albert Haase, O.F.M., author of Coming Home to Your True Self and Living the Lord's Prayer

"Weakness, inferiority, absence and death are turned upside down in these pages, as Phileena Heuertz engages the reader's holy imagination with Christ's good gifts of strength, mutuality, presence and life. Prepare to be transformed."

Margot Starbuck, author of The Girl in the Orange Dress and Unsqueezed

"In my journey for justice, I've discovered that contemplative practices are the practices that best help me to face the world with love instead of fear, vulnerability instead of shame, and openness instead of defensiveness. Pilgrimage of a Soul is an excellent and accessible introduction to the Christian contemplative tradition and its intimate connection to social justice action."

Christena Cleveland, author of Disunity in Christ

"The astounding book you hold in your hands has the potential to change you in unimaginably deep ways. Read it slowly, paying as much attention to the things that arise within you as you do to the words on the page. Received with hospitality, these arisings will lead you forward as you make your own pilgrimage of the soul. I can think of no better companion on that journey than Phileena Heuertz."

David G. Benner, founding director of Cascadia Living Wisdom School, author of The Gift of Being Yourself

"If you want to read a book that will be good for your soul, this is it. In telling her own story honestly and poignantly, Phileena invites you into your own story—and into the deep story of God. I am a better person and a better Christian for reading this beautiful, beautiful book."

Brian D. McLaren, author and activist

"Two decades ago an agonizing crisis of faith lead me—in desperation—on the contemplative journey that Phileena so beautifully describes in Pilgrimage of a Soul. The depth of divine love I discovered on that healing journey led naturally into a very active and global life. Since then, my daily challenge has been to establish the practices and rhythms that allow me to meld those two meandering paths into a single, sustainable life. Because she shares that challenge, Phileena's words seep deeply into my soul. I am so grateful for this book!"

Lynne Hybels, advocate for global engagement, Willow Creek Community Church, author of Nice Girls Don’t Change the World

"Contemplation is the meditation of the soul. Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life urges contemplation as part of a healthy spirituality, connecting the conscious to the subconscious. With plenty of discussion on faith and thought, Pilgrimage of a Soul is an intriguing and intellectual read for any Christian studies collection."

James A. Cox, Library Book Watch, September 2010

"As a co-director of Word Made Flesh, an international community of Christians who live and serve among the poor, Phileena Heuertz understands active faith. In Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life, Heuertz describes her transforming journey into another aspect of faith--learning to rest in and surrender to God."

Sojourners, September-October 2010


Foreword to the Revised Edition by Shauna Niequist
Foreword by Phyllis Tickle

1. Awakening
2. Longing
3. Darkness
4. Death
5. Transformation
6. Intimacy
7. Union



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Phileena Heuertz

Phileena Heuertz is the author of Pilgrimage of a Soul and a founding partner of Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism. For nearly twenty years she and her husband, Chris, codirected an international nonprofit in more than seventy countries, building community among victims of human trafficking, survivors of HIV and AIDS, abandoned children, and child soldiers and war brides.

Spiritual director, yoga instructor, public speaker, retreat guide, and author, Phileena is passionate about spirituality and making the world a better place. She has led contemplative retreats for a number of faith communities, including Word Made Flesh, World Vision International, and Compassion International. In addition, she is sought after as a speaker at universities, seminaries, and conferences such as Q, Catalyst, Urbana, and the Center for Action and Contemplation. Phileena was also named an “Outstanding Alumni” by Asbury University and one of Outreach magazine’s “30 Emerging Influencers Reshaping Leadership.”