The Love of Thousands
How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk with Us toward Holiness
by Christine Valters Paintner
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Pub Date 18 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 11 Dec 2023
Ave Maria Press, Sorin Books
Is it possible that angels, saints, and even our departed ancestors support and inspire us throughout our lives? How can we connect with them in a real way?
Christine Valters Paintner, popular spiritual writer and abbess of the online Abbey of the Arts, says these sacred beings are paving the way for our journey toward God’s love, even as we pass through a world rife with struggle, discord, and violence. In The Love of Thousands, she helps us open up our spiritual imagination to encounter our heavenly helpers, allowing us to become everyday mystics.
Paintner describes saints, angels, and our ancestors as sacred beings who surround us like concentric circles, watching over us with compassion and offering us spiritual guidance throughout our lives.
In The Love of Thousands, she guides us to see the ways these beings support us, from the care of our guardian angels, to the wisdom of the mystics, to the witness of our loved ones who have crossed the threshold to the light of God’s presence.
Paintner’s gentle guidance reveals that we can be inspired and sustained when we are open and attentive in exploring our connections to these holy companions walking alongside us. Transformed by the encounter, we can grow into the kinds of ancestors—part of the Communion of Saints—who offer spiritual support and wisdom to others in turn.
Throughout The Love of Thousands, we are led to explore and better understand
- the teachings from scripture and tradition about the four archangels, the protection offered by our guardian angels, and what it might look like to wrestle with angels as Jacob did in the Old Testament;
- the witness of the saints and mystics, with an exploration of how we are all called to be mystics;
- the tradition of relics and the practice of pilgrimage;
- the presence of our ancestors, inviting us first to claim the blessings of our family heritage and then to embrace grief and explore healing the wounds of our lineage.
Each chapter includes a reflection, practice, meditation, and creative exercise that will help cultivate an ongoing relationship with angels, saints, and our ancestors. Paintner also suggests various ways to engage with this book to reflect more deeply on the spiritual content, such as reading it over the course of a year or with others as a form of spiritual pilgrimage.
A Note From the Publisher
Paintner is the author of seventeen books on monasticism and creativity, including Sacred Time; Earth, Our Original Monastery; The Soul’s Slow Ripening; Water, Wind, Earth, and Fire; The Artist’s Rule; The Soul of a Pilgrim; Illuminating the Way; The Wisdom of the Body; and three collections of poetry. She is a Benedictine oblate living in Galway, Ireland, with her husband, John. Together they lead online retreats at their website AbbeyoftheArts.com.
“Christine Valters Paintner invites us to experience a more authentic way of being and teaches us how to live from there. Warm-hearted, its wisdom keeps us company whether we are in grief’s wilderness, a joyful time, or another liminal place. Making space for our true, loving self to awaken and reawaken, it shares ways to travel soulcraft’s healing path together and walks us home.”
Carmen Acevedo Butcher Poet and translator of The Cloud of Unknowing and Practice of the Presence
"Reading a book by Christine Valters Paintner is like going on a retreat in your own home. She tells meaningful stories, offers insightful guidance, and presents practical ways to bring spirituality into your heart, body, and soul. With The Love of Thousands, she invites readers into one of the most beautiful elements of Christian spirituality: the Communion of Saints (and angels and ancestors). But this is no mere abstract doctrine—the wisdom offered here can help make the love of our heavenly companions truly an embodied presence in our lives." Carl McColman Author of The New Big Book of Christian Mysticism
“Reading The Love of Thousands is like gathering around a campfire on a clear starlit night or plunging into a cold refreshing stream. It awakens what we know by heart, lifting up simple practices that help us cultivate mystical presence. Drawing deeply from the well of human experience, Christine Valters Paintner once again gives us a reliable hope, not just for our individual lives but for the collective wounds plaguing our planet.” Dori Grinenko Baker Coauthor of Another Way
“With her trademark commingling of erudite research and compassionate intimacy, Christine Valters Paintner gently pulls back the veils of both time and space that we might see all those who have come before us looking lovingly upon us in the shadow of every tree, in the echo of every bird’s song. Contemplative prayers and practices invite us into a sacred experience of the love that came before us, the love that surrounds us still, guiding us into the profound peace of knowing that we never walk alone.” Cameron Bellm Catholic author and speaker
“If Christine Valters Paintner simply took us on a journey in her book, The Love of Thousands, that would be enough. In this magical and mystical work, which contains the quotes from a fantastic array of sages, she also opens the space for us to robustly experience our own spiritual pilgrimage as well. Her book is actually a retreat on knowing life more richly by revisiting such experiences as impermanence and vulnerability. By drawing from a breadth of spiritual traditions and personal insights, she also helps us understand time and attention not as mere concepts, but as lenses that need to be polished and intently looked through differently, honestly, hopefully. In encountering her words, I felt as if Paintner was sitting alongside me and encouraging me to breathe in life and become open to relics, sainthood, ancestry, meditation, angelic relationships, and feast days in ways that those whom I have admired did long before me. She constantly challenged me to calmly and humbly open myself to being on the edge of wonder and awe, to appreciate life’s ‘thin places,’ even when what I first encountered was, to my mind, darkness. My hope is that the new consciousness and meditative way of life that this spurred on in me will have a similar impact on you as well.” Robert J. Wicks Author of Riding the Dragon