My friend Charles Ringma lives in Brisbane with his wife, Rita. He has led a very active life in pioneering Christian missions, in theological education, and in writing about Christian spirituality. Charles and Rita worked among indigenous peoples in Australia. He was the founder and director of the Good News Centre that worked with alcoholics in Brisbane, and was the Australian founder and executive director of Teen Challenge in Brisbane. Charles and Rita pioneered a church, Jubilee Fellowship, in Australia.
He did research work with me in the Department of Social Work and Social Policy, University of Queensland, in the area of Disability Services. He has taught extensively at the Asian Theological Seminary in Manila, Philippines, where he was Professor of Theology and Mission. In 1997, Charles Ringma was appointed Professor of Missions and Evangelism at Regent College, a post that he held until he became Professor Emeritus in 2005.
Charles is also a Franciscan Tertiary and a Companion of Northumbria Community in Brisbane.
Charles has written many books on Christian spirituality, a selection of which have been included below. There are still more to come. He is an active member of our writer’s group which has been dubbed the Holy Scribblers.
Have a look at Charles' Homilies from the Heart No. 1
Have a look at Charles' Franciscan Peacemaking: Making Connections with the Wider Christian Tradition
Of Martyrs, Monks and Mystics
Yearly Meditational Reader of Ancient Spiritual Wisdom
Charles Ringma & Irene Alexander
Cascade Books, Wipf & Stock, Eugene, OR. Forthcoming 2015
Everywhere there are voices calling for a new Reformation, marked by a return to older sources of Christian wisdom, and for drinking anew the inspiration of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the church fathers, those from the monastic tradition and the medieval Christian mystics.
This anthology of original sources in contemporary English, structured in a meditational mode, could well be the rich resource you are looking for in hearing the ancient Christian wisdom. Here are the deep wells of theological and spiritual insight that could guide you in walking a renewed path of faith in our precarious world. These voices from the past may well help you in living against the tide of late modernity with its rationality and utilitarianism that cannot sustain a well-lived and well-loved life. This book could sustain the hope for a renewed world through the life lived in the presence of the healing and empowering God.
“This is a remarkable collection of quotations from the communion of Saints across the ages, which will deeply enrich your soul, and transform your identity as a Christian. I know no other spiritual treasury like this. It should be at every Christian’s desk or bedside.”
James M. Houston, Board of Governor’s Professor, Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver.
“[This] is a remarkable collection . . . The result is a sparkling array of freshness from many lesser-known lived such as Gertrude the Great, Macarius of Egypt, and the Dutch poet Hadewijch conversing with us alongside Julian of Norwich, John Cassian, and Clare of Assisi . . . [T]his is a book that not only needs to be read slowly and prayerfully but also applied and lived as present-day wisdom.”
Trevor Miller, Abbot of Northumbria Community
A recent release
In the Footsteps of an Ancient Faith
Announcing the release of Charles Ringma’s most recent book In the Footsteps of an Ancient Faith (Regent College Publishing).
From the Preface: When we read from the early church fathers, the Desert hermits, the monastic tradition and the Christian medieval mystics, we drink from ancient wells of faith and prayer and are refreshed by the cool subterranean water. These ancient voices come to us in our modern world like whispers from another world, resonating with our longing for older sources of inspiration and spirituality.
In this book, Charles explores how the wisdom of the ancient church and the insights of Christian mysticism can guide modern Christians in their search for meaningful faith in the modern world.
The Art of Healing Prayer: Bringing Christ's Wholeness to Broken People
Charles Ringma & Mary Dickau
London: SPCK, 2015
The Art of Healing Prayer aims to help both clergy and laity to develop a greater understanding of those who come seeking healing, and to become skilled in praying for such people biblically, imaginatively and sensitively. The authors recognize that this is a costly ministry, requiring counsellors to find time in their own often busy lives to guide others, and necessitating that they continue to be open to the gifts of God's grace. However, it is a ministry that often results in joy and transformation, as those healed from long standing inner woundedness become sources of goodness and healing for others.
Mary Dickau is a community/spiritual care coordinator in Vancouver.
Review: In what is a truly remarkable achievement, The Art of Healing Prayer is a book like no other on its subject matter, taking the meaning of ‘comprehensive’ to new levels. I am astonished at how such a concise book can be so wide-ranging and yet so complete! It is at once creative and reflective, theological and practical, knowledgeable and flexible, and deeply spiritual. The authors offer guidelines and examples as they lead us through a case study format involving preparation prayers, practical healing prayers as well as pastoral follow-up prayers, ideally for a participatory team. The suggested examples of healing prayers used throughout the book are quite profound and powerfully appropriate in ‘bringing Christ’s wholeness to broken people’. Based on decades of hands-on experience of training both clergy and laity, it has authenticity, understanding and wisdom oozing from its pages. Here is no triumphalist theorising but recognition that to seek God’s heart for healing on behalf of others is not a quick fix but requires an awareness that “the inner, outer and relational healing of the whole person — body, mind and spirit” involves an ongoing healing journey. The authors need to be applauded, as I believe this book though relatively small in pages will prove to be a huge gift to the whole faith community. Highly recommended!
Trevor Miller, Northumbria Community
Charles' other Books:
Charles Ringma. Hear the Ancient Wisdom: A Meditational Reader for the Whole Year from the Early Church Fathers up to the Pre-Reformation.
Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, Wipf & Stock, 2013.
Synopsis: This is one of Charles’ most recent booksThere is a hunger in the modern world for spirituality. One vast resource of spiritual wisdom comes from the pre-Reformation church–from the martyrs of the first centuries of Christianity, through the long tradition of monasticism, to the medieval Christian mystics. These are the deep wells of Christian reflection from persons such as John Chrysostom, Augustine, Benedict, Francis of Assisi, Bonaventure, Bernard of Clairvaux, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, and Julian of Norwich, to mention just a few.
The spiritual insights of over seventy men and women of pre-Reformation Christianity are found in these pages. From these figures we can learn more about the practices of prayer and contemplation, a life of following Christ, the relevance of community, the challenge of asceticism, the movement of withdrawal and engagement, the love of God for God's own sake, living the gospel, sacrificing for the kingdom of God, the longing for union with God, the practices of justice, and a life of prophetic witness.
For us, so embedded and shaped by the modern world, this ancient wisdom will come as refreshing water and as a breath of fresh air, with the wings of the Spirit and whispers of angels.
"Charles Ringma has crafted a unique genre of inspirational literature. . . . Many of these meditations are riveting–stopping us in our tracks and pointing us to God and life. Far from being otherworldly and cloistered, Ringma takes us deeper into this life and, at the same time, the life to come. Walking with these godly men and women then and today . . . is a rich and not-to-be missed experience." (R. Paul Stevens, Professor Emeritus, Regent College).
"Hear the Ancient Wisdom is a book worthy of our time, commitment, and investment, as you will (like me) be sustained and nourished by the astonishing breadth of understanding and depth of spiritual insight contained in these meditations and reflections. Here is lived wisdom given a voice for the twenty-first century, enabling us to find a way to engage with the paradox and complexities of real life as it is today. Highly recommended!" (Reverend Trevor Miller, Abbot of the Northumbria Community).
"In Hear the Ancient Wisdom these early voices are not antiquated echoes; instead, their voices resonate through the centuries. Empowered by this great cloud of witnesses that surround us through history, Charles takes us on a discipleship journey that is both beautiful and deeply challenging." (Right Reverend Justin Duckworth, Anglican Bishop of Wellington).
"Students and colleagues of Charles Ringma . . . know him to be a trustworthy guide in matters of the Spirit. In this book, as in his life, he unites a rich, intellectual grasp of the broad tradition of Christian spirituality with a rigorous ethic of service, leading the reader beyond the rhetoric of faith into a life of worship and service. This is a book I will gladly make my companion for a year—or more." (Maxine Hancock, Professor Emerita, Regent College).
"This book of meditations fills a spiritual void in a time when modernity has spent itself and people are longing for a way of seeing life whole beyond ideologies and an efficacy beyond tools. For those of us in the Majority World, it connects us to a spiritual tradition whose depths can be owned as part of the continuities of our historic Christian faith, even as we shed off elements from that past that necessarily ought to be discontinuous with our own pathways to encountering and loving God. I thank Charles Ringma and his work for being a bridge to that important past and a companion in our present journey as non-western churches." (Melba Padilla Maggay, Ph.D. President, ISACC ).
SELECTION OF OTHER BOOKS BY CHARLES
Seize the Day
This devotional of 365 meditations by theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer helps you see that it is possible to impact that world if we allow ourselves to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. Experience the power of Bonhoeffer’s words in a way that challenges you to live out your discipleship daily―combining personal spirituality with an active concern for those around you.
Dare to Journey. OMF Literature
The secret to genuine spirituality is not to re-main at the point of our great experiences Such experiences should never be the terminus of our spiritual journey Henri Nouwen puts it rather strongly: "Those who think that they have arrived have lost their way." –From Reflection 147
Is There More?: The Journey of Faith
In this collection of 180 reflections, author Charles Ringma interacts with Henri Nouwen, one of the most influential contemporary writers on Christian spirituality. Designed to he used as a handbook for inner development, times of retreat, spiritual renewal, re-evaluation and prayer, this book is meant to be a conversation partner—to encourage each one of us in our own journey of faith.
Resist the Powers
Synopsis: Through 365 challenging and stirring reflections based on the bold message of French philosopher and theologian Jacques Ellul, Charles Ringma invites you to consider the profound connections between personal faith and social responsibility. Resist the Powers with Jacques Ellul will encourage you to pursue an active faith that resists the powers of our age by embracing a vision of the kingdom of God that brings together head, heart and hands.
Catch the Wind: The Shape of the Church to Come
Synopsis: Most agree the church needs to change, but how can this be brought about? Innovations and openness to new ideas are all around us, but in the church there seems to be a way of thinking and behaving that has written change out of the agenda. As a result, many have left the church, or as Charles Ringma says, go to church "out of habit or guilt, but are frustrated, alienated and don't participate in its life." In Catch the Wind, Charles Ringma answers questions such as: How can people be empowered for change? Can they become responsible for their own spiritual growth? What is the shape of the church of the future? How can churches be organized as if people mattered? How can our experience of church be a family one? Catch the Wind doesn't offer a single "model" for the church. But it does make a case for a more dynamic, less structured and risk-taking approach to our life together that builds people up and equips them for mission in the world.
The Seeking Heart: A Journey with Henri Nouwen.
Synopsis: Explore the way of the seeking heart with Henri Nouwen as your guide. In this lively new book, Charles Ringma recognizes the human quest for transcendence, beauty, peace and inner well being, as well as the search for relational wholeness. Focusing on the most basic human needs, using the human heart as a recurring metaphor? The Seeking Heart explores: Heart Cries; The beauty and pain of the human condition; Heart Transformations; The joy and challenge of conversion and renewal; Heart and Head; The journey and empowerment of faith seeking understanding; Heart to Heart; The wonderment and responsibility of friendship and community; Heart Darkness; Faith and mystery in the journeys of doubt and the dark night of the soul; Heart and Hand; Self-giving and receiving in the midst of loving and serving; and, The Heart's True Home?
Written for spiritual sojourners, this "reflective reader" combines the wisdom of retired Regent College mission studies professor Ringma with themes, quotes and stories from the life of the late Henri Nouwen, a prolific writer and teacher of Christian spirituality. Proclaiming that "heart matters," Ringma follows a typical journey of the heart through travails that lead to transformation, understanding, service and finally to its "true home," described as "God's final future." In each brief chapter, Ringma begins with his own reflection and then ties it to a related musing from one of Nouwen's vast library of publications. Although the book contains a good deal about Nouwen, it never places him on a pedestal as a divine authority. It's more like a conversation begun by Ringma, drawing us in and helping us listen to Nouwen's thoughts on the theme. Ringma understands—as Nouwen did—how the many voices of culture today bombard us. He invites us to an inner renewal that results in "the gift and ability to hear another voice," one that is contrary to culture. The conversation between Ringma and Nouwen echoes this "voice of love," making this written journey an inspiring one indeed. (From Publishers Weekly).
Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton.
Synopsis: In this volume of short reflective pieces, Thomas Merton acts as a conversation partner for the author, who draws on Merton's monastic experience in order to help us reflect on the motivational center out of which we all live, work and serve. Seek the Silences is not a call to a spirituality that pulls us towards God but removes us from the pain, need and challenges of the world. Rather it highlights that it is necessary to be still before God in order to hear and then do; to disengage in order to be empowered; to be embraced in order to serve.
Wash the Feet of the World with Mother Teresa.
Synopsis: Mother Teresa once said she wanted to "do something beautiful for God." Looking back at her decades of service and recognition—including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize–Mother Teresa's life indeed proved to be a work of art in its purest form. Charles Ringma's daily reflections, based on her life and service among the poor, allow you to look for ways you, too, can do something beautiful with your life. Each reading will challenge you to emulate her spirit of service and humility, to live your life with a higher purpose in mind.
Let My People Go with Martin Luther King, Jr.
Synopsis: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired his generation with a dream and a promise. His unwavering vision of a more equitable, just society permanently changed the lives of millions around the world. One of the greatest men of the twentieth century, Dr. King's faith, conviction, and strength continue to inspire us today. In 120 daily readings, Charles Ringma encourages us to reflect on Dr. King's powerful legacy. Find a moment each day to ponder his words and dare to dream.
Whispers from the Edge of Eternity
Synopsis: The Christian journey is far more complex than an evolutionary upward movement. There are strange contours in the road. Faith has its uncertainties, and our healing is far from complete. Moreover, we continue to live in a world where there is so much injustice. This meditational reader seeks to reflect something of this kind of textured picture of the Christian journey.
This book contains daily Scripture readings and reflections on many issues of the Christian life. Charles mediates the wisdom of theologians, philosophers, novelists, and writers on Christian spirituality from across the centuries, challenging us to experience God not only in times of prosperity, but also in the shadows of pain and suffering. Readers will be encouraged by such diverse voices as St. Augustine, Blaise Pascal, Dorothy Day and Henri Nouwen.
Finding Naasicaa: Letters of Hope in an Age of Anxiety
Synopsis: In a post-Christendom world, young people continue to be vitally interested in matters of spirituality and justice, despite their lack of engagement with the Christian faith and church. This situation calls for new forms of communication and a reconsideration of the claims of the Christian faith. This book for searching minds does just this.
A series of letters written by theologian Charles Ringma to his 19-year-old granddaughter, Finding Naasicaa addresses ultimate issues of life, faith, spirituality and social transformation accessibly, unpretentiously and winsomely.
Life in Full Stride
Synopsis: Spirituality cannot be an escape from reality. Jesus Christ empowers us to live in the world in ways that glorify God, enhance the well-being of others, and transform our world. We are encouraged to take life seriously in all its dimensions: personal, social, economic, cultural, political and spiritual. Here are 110 faith-stretching reflections on many issues of daily living. Each is an encouragement to live life realistically, proactively, and with hope.
Hear the Heart Beat with Henri Nouwen
Synopsis: Henri Nouwen is one of the best loved spiritual writers of the last twenty years or so – there is a good market for a book which explores his life and thought in this reflective way. This is a volume of reflective pieces in which the author engages with Henri Nouwen, one of the most popular and prolific spiritual writers of the late twentieth century. Similar in shape and feel to our recent "Seek the Silences with Thomas Merton", "Listen to the Seeking Heart" will draw on some of the biographies on Nouwen and take in all his published works.
Ragged Edges: Poems from the Margins
Access to Articles by Charles Ringma
What Can the New Monasticism Learn from the Old Monasticism
Homilies from the Heart (No. 1)