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The Grace of “Nothingness”

The Grace of “Nothingness”

Navigating the Spiritual Life with Blessed Columba Marmion

By Fr Cassian Koenemann, OSB

184 pp

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About the Book

In the early twentieth century, Blessed Columba Marmion’s dogmatically-grounded spiritual theology, expressed in artful prose, set the Catholic world on fire. A century later, in The Grace of Nothingness,” Fr Cassian Koenemann seeks to rekindle that fire for a new generation with his inspired presentation of Marmion’s key spiritual insights. To this task he brings a monk’s sensitivity to friendship with God, a schoolteacher’s focus on the fruits of theology, and a spiritual theologian’s attentiveness to grounding it all in proven sources. Marmion reminds us that God heals and perfects us to the extent we allow him to do so, but that we often block that transformation through prideful “self-reliance,” trying to solve our problems by our own efforts. If only we place our confidence in God, however, we will receive the grace we need.


The Grace of Nothingness’ is a work of deep and sober reflection. What it reveals to us of Columba Marmion’s vision, however, is as fresh and surprising as the Gospel itself. Here we find, in the understanding of ‘nothingness,’ not the least hint of anything mandarin or esoteric, but a theme that focuses attention on the unique, saving grace of Christ. Fr Cassian complements his study with a helpful overview of the centuries of reflection on the theme of ‘nothingness’ in the writings of Catholic saints and mystics. This work is without question a truly insightful contribution to spiritual theology.”


author of A Journey with Jonah

“In The Grace of Nothingness’ Father Cassian brings clarity and focus to Marmion’s notable refrain, that apart from Him we have nothing and in Him we have everything. The book is rich with Marmion’s spiritual theology that ‘nothingness’ is not a negation of self or an expression of low self-esteem, but is rather a liberating, living truth of our nothingness in the face of the infinite greatness of God. Here we are challenged to accept that in order to respond fully to God’s invitation we must remove the obstacles we ourselves have placed to union with Him, most especially the obstacle of self-reliance. Included in the text are both age-old and contemporary examples of saints serving as models for us to emulate.”


author of The Art of Accompaniment

 “St John of the Cross says that at the summit of the spiritual life there is ‘nothing.’ This introduction to the theme of ‘nothingness’ in the writings of Abbot Marmion offers fresh insights into this demanding feature of Christian life.”


Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation

About the Author

FR. CASSIAN KOENEMANN, OSB, STL in Spiritual Theology, is a monk, priest, and the Prior of Saint Louis Abbey. He teaches Friendship with God and the Theology of Marriage at Saint Louis Priory School. He also accompanies people in spiritual direction and prays with people for inner healing and deliverance. 

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