Father Nicholas Amato is a catholic priest, contemplative and author of several books including the 2021 book, Happiness and Joy: Can a Spiritual Life Have Both? He’s 80-years young, runs three miles a day and walks another 15,000 steps. After talking with Ftr. Amato for a short while, you get the impression that he is just about the wellest person you’ll ever meet.
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Ftr. Amato is also the creator of the Mepkin Wellness Program, a diet, fitness, mindfulness and community support training for parish priests run from Mepkin Abbey Monastery in South Carolina. Mepkin was founded by the same Trappist Order that founded Gethsemane Abbey, in Kentucky. Ftr. Amato is a contemporary of Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington and the founders of the Centering Prayer movement. Ftr. Amato is a graduate of the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC.
If you like Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeois, you will love Ftr. Amato. He is like a cross between Thomas Keating and a fitness coach. We talk about “the four legs” of the table of wellness practice, dreaming big and thinking small, tips on how to stay awake during contemplation and the differences between chasing happiness and waking up to joy.
The interview ends with a ten minute breathing exercise and 5 minutes of sitting silently in God’s presence.
For more on Ftr. Amato check out his highly instructional book, Living in God, Contemplative Prayer and Contemplative Action
This a lovely practical, concise and specific book, written in a gentle voice and filled with step-by-step advice for cultivating a closer relationship with the presence of God.
Happiness and Joy is an excellent book designed to function as a retreat guide or book club focus. It brings one through a spiritual journey to discover the wellspring of joy that pours out of our hearts when we “finally fill the God-shaped hole” inside ourselves.
PS- Correction: It was Irenaeus not Tertullian who said, “the Glory of God is a hu[man] fully alive.”
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