Conjugal Spirituality (or Radical Proximity):
A New Form of Con-templ-ation
by Mary Anne McPherson Oliver

Spring 1991, Vol. 43, No. 1, pp. 53-67

Mary Anne McPherson Oliver has published in Studio Mystica and has a book in progress on conjugal spirituality to be published by Sheed & Ward; she is adjunct professor at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, CA.

Distinguishing between celibate and conjugal spirituality, Oliver points out that spirituality for the married develops in three stages.

ABOUT thirteen years ago, I began studying the history of spirituality. I read saints' writings. I read saints' lives. I plowed through Garrigou-Lagrange's long attempt at synthesizing nineteen centuries of Christian experience. Sometimes I would say with satisfaction, "I've seen that happen," or "So that's what that means." Sometimes I would say with interest: "How different people are," or "How times have changed." But often, quite often, I found myself puzzled, saying "Yes, but not quite like that," or "Yes, but that's not all," or even "That just isn't right, though I don't know why."

As I read on and reservations accumulated, I began to suspect that it was not just a matter of this or that detail, and when I had surveyed the whole field, I realized that from my personal perspective as a woman who has lived with one man for thirty years, the whole of spiritual history and theology was not untrue but slightly warped, slightly out of focus, that spirituality as recorded in writing was celibate, and I am not.

This discovery of mine is nothing new to the scholarly world, and the world at large generally knows that sexuality was until our time perceived as an obstacle to spirituality. But there have not yet been produced for the couple guidelines or blueprints comparable to those available for individual piety or for communal life, and the very idea that our notion of spirituality is a celibate one goes almost universally unrecognized. People find it hard to believe that they themselves, like Christians in the distant past, can in fact be looking at their spiritual lives through the lens of celibacy and monasticism. The truth of this assertion can be illustrated, however, by three short excursions into the respective domains of systematic theology, history, and spiritual literature.

For example, if asked to name typical Christian virtues, we can all answer "faith, hope, and charity." If asked to name typical monastic virtues, most can call to mind that other triad, "poverty, chastity, and obedience." But what three conjugal virtues come quickly to mind, or two, or even one? Love? Fidelity? Endurance? Are there indeed any virtues which can be said to be specifically conjugal? If so, they remain to be formulated and made familiar.

Or we can look at the canonized saints, who reflect changing styles of holiness in history. Scholars, such as Pierre Delooz and Kenneth L. Woodward, have recently pointed out that very few were married, and that none of these few were canonized as models for conjugal virtue, a pattern which continues through the present day. The only married saints canonized in the twentieth century have been martyrs or stigmatics, widow/foundresses of religious orders, and husbands who left wife and family to become missionaries or hermits. The three most well-known, for example, are Nicholas von Flue, whose solitary life is known in great detail, but whose marriage and ten children are mentioned only in passing; Rita of Cascia, whose marriage was a living martyrdom, and who was popularly acclaimed as a saint after becoming an Augustinian nun and experiencing the stigmata of the crown of thorns; and, finally, the actual martyr Thomas More, who seems to have married a second wife (his first having died quite young) only to mother his children, and whose household, pictured in the film A Man for All Seasons, was a model of Benedictine order. None of these, obviously, provide widely accepted models for today.

And finally, lest one should think the situation more "conjugal" in other Christian communions, a survey of non-Roman Catholic books is otherwise convincing. The spiritual literature available could aptly be summarized by Presbyterian Charles Olson's title: "The Closet [private], the House [familial], and the Sanctuary [communal]" (1285-1289). A prominent Anglican theologian, U. T. Holmes, called marriage as a path to Christ "a yet undeveloped theme of spirituality"(118), and Paul Evdokimov (Eastern Orthodox) writes that successful love has neither history nor literature, that there is no archetype of the conjugal being (164, 168). Even more recently, in an article in Sojourners, Ernest Boyer sees two spiritual "ways" (reconciling them in the image of a circle in which the "edge" is traditional asceticism and the "center," a "new" spirituality of everyday concerns), but speaks only briefly of marriage and concludes by describing a familial spirituality hardly distinguishable from the Benedictine monastic pattern (16-17).


Thus, theology, history, and literature all suggest to us that spirituality is, or has until very recently been, thoroughly celibate. Thus despite the fact that couples exist before, during, after, and sometimes even without children, there are no alternatives to individual or familial (i.e., eremitic or monastic) models for couples feeling called to some intensity in Christ, no publicly available patterns for developing the Christian couple as couple, no prayers which have grown out of and reflect the peculiarity of being more than one and only two.

In practical terms, this means that couples, in line with the "celibate" model for spiritual practice, are advised to read their Bibles, meditate, worship, pray, aloud or silently, with or without words, with or without set forms, all essentially in the same way monks and hermits did. But, one may well ask, what more can there be than this "celibate" prayer? What more can there be than the silent and the verbal, the personal and the communal? It is so nearly comprehensive that it seems to suffice.

Martin Luther is said to have thought he prayed "less well" after his marriage, which some have taken as an indication that marriage interferes with prayer. Others, such as Pierre-Yves Emery, have suggested that couples' "difficulty" with prayer may lie in their spiritual dissimilarity (161). But the research I have done since my initial discovery suggests that their problem lies rather in spiritual ignorance of their own peculiar potential and in the absence of spiritual models and forms.

A small but growing body of literature testifies to the fact that the new dimension of experience and knowledge brought about in long-term physical relationship and the interpenetration of being which results from it make of the couple a spiritual reality fundamentally different from the individual and communal units familiar to the history of spirituality. Though couples do indeed, like celibates, breathe, eat, and die alone, they cannot say, in the same way that celibates do, that they stand alone before God. It is not a falsification to say that they are alone, but a falsifying simplification. It is not as though another were always present with the self and God in some eternal triangle, but that the self is in some sense another in addition to being itself. Before God the coupled person stands alone only partially and physically.


A spirituality which would be conjugal, therefore, will necessarily diverge from this "celibate" tradition, and will in fact require a more radical shift in thinking about spirituality than history has yet seen, even greater than the shift which occurs in passing from the solitary, silent, intensely self-disciplined freedom of the hermit to the liturgy, familial obedience, and moderate rule of the monastery. So paradoxical and peculiar is coupledom, commonplace yet unique.

The couple seems at first glance a quite ordinary social unit. Fragile though it might be, it has been and continues to be universal as a cultural choice. On-going human relationships are the principal means whereby the great majority of people find pleasure, combat loneliness, or finitude, and order the deep forces of soul and body. And the process by which people enter into more or less formal agreements to share each others' lives represents the most important legal contract in every human society.

Yet on further reflection, a pair dissolves if one tries either to consider it constituted simply of two separate individuals or if one assimilates it to a familial, larger group. A pair is not structurally the same as a family. It is not a true group, not even a small one. The dynamics of two are quite different from the dynamics of even three -- eyes can only look at one person at a time.


On closer analysis, therefore, one realizes that the couple today is unique in at least three important ways. The first is that their love (both the initial attraction which leads to the formation of the couple and the on-going affinity which sustains it) is unlike any other. According to the Russian Orthodox theologian Soloviev, love is the highly non-rational glimpse of ideal being which pleasurably tempts us toward self-transcendence, which obliges us to recognize the same absolute significance we attribute to ourselves in another concrete, alien, human being.(1) The increase in ability to love, to see value outside self, is a measure of our progress in the life of the spirit, our seeing with the eyes of God. It is this love, the recognition of God in another and the relation of attraction and affinity it brings into being, which is the basis both for the friendly, "one-soul" relations known to the celibate tradition and for the more total conjugal relations.

What is specifically characteristic of conjugal love, however, is that it is ultimately called forth not simply by the perception of absolute value in the other, but also by the suspicion, however vague, that there will be absolute value in this particular union of other and self -- the suspicion that the other's particular imperfections are tolerable enough not to impede inter-penetration, and that the other's perfections, and one's own will gradually come together as a sort of whole, the most helpful image is perhaps the ellipse often used to surround divine figures in ancient art, a geometrical figure resulting from the overlapping, greater or lesser, of two independent circles, an interpenetration or coinherence which will, in some sense, reunify divided humanity, thus restoring to some imperfect degree the original image of God. This initial vision is, of course, possibly illusory and certainly impermanent, a highly personal response to qualities that may be absolutely hidden to everyone else, a private revelation that cynics call madness, but its persisting recurrence and its embodiment in sexual union underlie conjugal love, contributing to its particularity and its fragility.

Secondly, the way a couple is formed is unique. In all other social institutions with which an individual may be associated, the primary task is to assimilate to rules and patterns already established -- e.g., a child in the family or at school, an adult at work, or a novice in a religious community. Though the individual may eventually influence social structure, the framework is already set. If one ignores it too drastically, one is excluded. In a long-term relationship, however, the partners must actively collaborate in creating an order for which there are two separate pictures rather than a single one. The couple must by trial and error discover its own peculiar shape. It must arrive at consensus on the basics of its form -- its way of relating to each other and to outsiders.

Third, the end product is unique, both like and unlike any other social unit. Coupledom is like friendship and partnership, but with a different, deeply physical dimension. It is a bond which simulates but is even closer than the bond of blood relation, for in our society a spouse becomes one's nearest kin, and will be admitted to a hospital before other relatives or friends. But when a marriage is terminated the partner becomes an ex-spouse, while one could never speak of an ex-father or ex-sister. Today, the ever-present possibility of divorce has transformed marriage from an institution to an adventure.

Thus the couple could be said to embody the myths of both Prometheus and Sisyphus, that is, it tries to achieve the impossible, a unity of differences, not once but over and over. It tries to cause to be and to keep in being that which in a sense is not and cannot be, to bring into being a more-than-blood relationship by sheer act of will. The couple always remains, therefore, an unstable artifice, never having the solidity of real kinship, a fragile miracle dependant on the continued willingness of the partners to be in relation. The spiritual equivalent of this peculiar human and superhuman creation, this reality neither singular nor plural, is, I take it, the reality referred to in the Biblical term "one-flesh." And the mystery of its formation, the discipline of its continuance, and the rewards of its achievement will be the matter to be elaborated by a conjugal spirituality, of which I can here sketch only a few highlights.


One can see at least three distinct stages in a conjugal lifetime, parallel in a sense to the familiar purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages of traditional spirituality, but different in kind because of the couple's peculiar nature. In the beginning stage of a conjugal relationship, the world as it appears to each partner is slowly compared to the world as it appears to the other. In the process every aspect of reality is re-evaluated, or re-viewed, through the eyes of the other: family, friends, possessions, Christmas customs, past events and patterns of behavior, favorite ideas and activities, priorities for spending time and money. The partners have, so to speak, different linguistic backgrounds, and must arrive at a common vocabulary by a lengthy process of agreeing together what each word's meaning will be. (2)

In a second stage, when the couple is conscious of having a past together, the fruitfulness of the couple, thus far exercised in building up their unity, spills over in commitment to larger values and new ventures. This widening of finite selves is necessary both to the individual and to the relationship, but imbalance and over-extension are ever-present dangers, and the creativity which went into building the couple must now be used to preserve its equilibrium, so that the beloved "You," the "I" of integrity, and the "We" of partnership remain reasonably equal, so that none is so lop-sided as to damage the others.

Couples who persevere in relationship find that emotional proximity, particularly that involving physical union, tends toward greater and greater unification. If prolonged and more than superficial, proximity brings about and fosters a real participation in the other, an indwelling. There is an automatic interpenetration of being which operates, increasing over time to a state of fulfillment which Charles Williams calls coinherence.

In this third stage of conjugal life, when the couple has achieved an easy, habitual union of mind, body, and heart, they have the possibility of becoming visible incarnations of that otherwise abstract reality which can only be pointed to with metaphorical words like one-flesh, and whose perfection is conveyed only in such symbols as the Yin-Yang circle, the ellipse, which has two centers, or the conventional heart shape, its upper part clearly two, the lower and whole clearly one.

There are two qualifying remarks which must be made here. First, this is clearly an ideal from which most of what we see and experience is far removed. But just as clearly, our perceptions are drastically limited by what we expect to see (as a British wine-expert discovered when he mis-identified as a cheap Spanish vintage an excellent white wine that had been colored red.) So if there are couple-saints around us we probably wouldn't recognize them, and if we have never looked for the work of the spirit in sexuality, we probably haven't noticed it. Besides, saints are rare, and holy couples should be statistically rarer still. Logically one could expect a three-to-one ratio, since there are not only two human beings but their relationship to perfect. And furthermore, to adapt C. S. Lewis' observation, the imperfection of results does not invalidate a spiritual discipline. One never knows how much worse things might have been without it!

And second, even the miraculous achievement of this bonding, great as it is, is not yet a spiritual goal, for both good and bad bonding exist and have been documented, for example, by Schwartz, Synder and Peterson in recent studies of retirement communities (223-226). When a couple is harmonious, their beauty is that of dancers moving effortlessly together. The two in their dance are one. When the co-habitation has been only endured coinherence still occurs, but its result is either dulness or unresolved conflict as succinctly illustrated in J. V. Cunningham's epigram (on experience, personified as a mistress of long standing) which concludes wrathfully: "I... would kill her, but which of us is which?" (124).

Thus relationship "until death do us part," though an accomplishment, is not necessarily a good. Only when equals choose and affirm, and continue to the end to choose and affirm radical proximity, physical and emotional, can their senses be progressively transfigured by the harmonious co-ordination of two worlds into one. Only as they learn to move gracefully in the same spiritual space, opposites yet visibly united, do we get glimpses of unpolarized humanity. And only as they make of their relation a templum, a space marked out by seers as the location for observing manifestations of God, a space consecrated to be the dwelling place of the deity, will they be able to work toward their potential as Christian couple. Only then can they in their relation begin to become fully one-flesh -- transparent, magnetic witnesses to the image of God for us, the closest human disclosure, as D. S. Bailey puts it, of that Trinitarian "union without confusion or loss of distinction" (116).


The glory of the goal and the simplicity of this outline should not be allowed to obscure the difficulty of what is being at tempted in this way of life. Prolonged harmony between two human beings is without doubt the hardest thing one can ever

attempt. It requires nothing less than a thorough-going willingness to relate, therefore the willingness to give up anything or anybody standing in the way of relating -- anything past, present, or future. It might in some cases require, for example, giving up name, habits, self-sufficiency, freedom of movement and choice, old friendships, personal creativity, wider social participation, or leisure -- ascetical renunciation, in short.

Moreover, it necessarily entails twenty-four-hour-a-day accountability for the rest of life, and drastically reduced if not totally eliminated privacy. Penelope Washbourne speaks movingly of the "all-pervading, ever-seeing presence of the other... a mirror of unmasking" (91). There is no hiding place. Every element of the personality eventually becomes manifest Katherine Anne Porter refers to it as the risky strategy "of surrendering gracefully with an air of pure disinterestedness as much of your living self as you can spare without incurring total extinction" (187). Others, such as Sidney Callahan, have called it "treading the fine line between sacrifice and suicide" (Scanzoni, 190).


Yet the rewards can also be great. New self-definition is possible because the awareness characteristic of a lover in the beloved's presence will trigger new knowledge of self, new self-value and self-blame. Strengths and weaknesses, limits and abilities appear more clearly, mirrored in the other's eye. The spouse, unavoidably and unalterably other, can serve as a reality principle, setting boundaries, so that the disparate strands of personality can begin to be unified and goals discerned.

In addition to self-knowledge, each can come over the years to know the other fully, all romantic posing past. As masks slip and as all childish projections, subconscious fantasies and social stereotypes are set aside, the couple can arrive at a full, trans-rational, bodily knowledge of the other that Yelchaninov says is "as wonderful and unique as the mystic's knowledge of God" (446).

And, most of all, the coordinated coupledom which they build can be a supportive space in which defense mechanisms can relax, past resentments dissolve, and personal weaknesses be faced and conquered. The couple can be secure within this space because within it personal value is guaranteed. In companionship and mutual affirmation they can stop fearing that those masks will slip; they can drop them altogether in the freedom accorded by intimacy.

In loving encounter each can reveal anxieties, each can be gently challenged and expanded, consciousnesses gradually enlarged. The spouse, by sympathetic, selective perception, can help the other toward fulfillment. Charles Williams describes this process as a "mutual invasion, breaking down both selves so that both can be transformed by the love both receive" (130). This continual interchange, more than a simple pooling of spiritual resources, can lead to what D.S. Bailey has termed a "balanced and fruitful androgyneity," one for example learning to nurture and the other to achieve, so that both are more fully human beings (18).


The couple has only seemingly simple tools to accomplish this feat. Their spiritual disciplines all come under the category of dialogue, verbal and non-verbal. Conjugal growth is based on communicating and relating. The couple must develop skills in listening, empathizing, confronting when disparity or discrepancy threaten, and diplomacy for conflict resolution. And above all, they must master that powerful force which is popularly called sex, that extraordinarily powerful uprising which can tear us out of ourselves, carry us beyond our mind and senses, and at its departure leave our heightened consciousness at peace and naturally open to a changed world. Talk and "sex" may seem the most natural things in the world, and indeed they are, but using them to create long-lasting intimacy is neither natural nor simple. Spontaneous at first, in the long run they require cultivation and discipline - putting aside distractions, centering and concentrating attention, being present and freely available to the other in awareness and trust.

Talk and sex, therefore, to put things in a nutshell, are the spiritual disciplines appropriate to the making of conjugal saints. From time to time, inasmuch as they are still individuals and do take part in larger groups, the couple will set aside the conjugal to have time for these other dimensions. But a truly conjugal prayer must be grounded in relationship, not in solitude, in communion rather than in silence. Conjugal discipline, contrary to much of what one reads today, can not be merely the perfecting of self within a conjugal context. The truly conjugal task is to create, cultivate, and celebrate the conjugal temple, the one-flesh, by setting aside, or dedicating, sufficient time and energy for both verbal dialogue and corporal communion -- in a word, for a new form of con-templ-ation.

This will at first seem strange to us who have until now known only spiritual disciplines shaped by the particularity of the celibate vocation. It will be difficult at first to take talk and sex seriously as religious exercises. But if we take the couple seriously as a spiritual reality, it is reasonable to assume that its radically different vision, the one-flesh rather than the one-spirit, should imply a parallel but radically different asceticism and spirituality, and more and more we will find ideas and sources to help us in the path.

For example, the Old Testament word for prayer has its root, in action-words, including to prostrate oneself and to caress, (3) and the new Episcopal prayer book provides an order for celebrating the eucharist in which only actions are prescribed (gather, proclaim, respond, pray, exchange, prepare, make, break, share).

If we also delve into earlier periods, it may be possible to recover conjugal traditions which existed alongside communal spirituality in the Jewish sources of Christian piety. The rabbinical tradition, for example, has regarded conjugal intercourse as a religious discipline enjoined in the Law, to be performed every day by the unoccupied, once a week by ass-drivers, once in thirty days by camel-drivers, and at least once in six months by sailors! (Danby, 252). And the thirteenth century Holy Letter describes in six chapters "the way in which a man may consummate sexual union with his wife so that it will be for the sake of heaven", a way in which the couple is of one mind and heart in arriving at their goal, and in which the divine presence is manifest (Cohen, 28).

This "Thou shalt" approach to the sexual may even conceivably be present in the New Testament. Paul is in general conformity with the rabbinical tradition when he advises that married couples abstain from sexual intercourse only by mutual consent and for a short time in order to devote themselves to prayer. It is my suggestion that while Paul's words have usually been taken to mean that couples should be encouraged to abstain from a purely human activity and turn to the really important religious activity of prayer, they can instead, in the light of the rabbinical tradition with which Paul was obviously familiar, be interpreted to mean (or at least to imply) that the two activities are parallel and of equivalent importance, that sexual intercourse in an on-going relationship is indeed a spiritual discipline.

Of all the tools of conjugal spirituality, most emphasis should be placed on sexual intercourse, the ongoing physical dialogue unique to the couple, because conjugal sex recapitulates all aspects of the conjugal relation. Sustaining long-term physical intimacy is not possible if the relationship is seriously out of alignment. Minute fluctuations of mood and spiritual state are perceptible through sexual encounter. While we may not wish to regulate sex as minutely as rabbinical law prescribes, it is important to study it seriously and practice it assiduously. If mastered, sexual encounter is a source of more love, and if integrated, a means toward inner liberty and joy.

Conjugal sex is more than a function of two personalities. Its simultaneous interchange, its taking and giving, and its attentiveness to the five senses all result in a binding of the two minds with one thought and lead on to a veritable possession by a power beyond us and greater than we are, a power which displaces the recognizable selves by acute physical awareness. We become totally transformed, totally unlike ourselves in any other setting.

And if when summoned by that untamable power we can surrender to ecstatic joy, harmony, union, and wholeness, we become we know not what, through the suspension of all our exterior senses, the temporary annihilation of time, multiplicity, and corporality, a God-like temporary fusing, transcending duality of being. The long-term practice of such ecstatic union, although I have seen no spiritual writer mention this, cannot help but have its effect on body and soul even as fasting and vigils are known to do within the tradition. We can become, we know not how, a prophecy in act, a fleeting prefiguration of the heavenly kingdom.


In the last analysis individual, communal and conjugal prayer will doubtless be seen to run on parallel lines. The conjugal in a way analogous to the celibate's sets aside a special time and space for contemplation, bringing together two bodies as one temple for the spirit. The similarities between the sexual and the mystical ecstasies which are their culmination are too striking not to be of some significance: their ineffability and transiency; their transcendence of time and space, subject and object, within and without; their surrender to an overwhelming power; and their outcome in non-rational and unitive knowledge.

What is chiefly lacking for couples to take full part in these adventures of the spirit are the forms and rites which would help them to recognize the spiritual significance of their life in common, to understand it as the principal way God speaks to them, to experience God's presence in it, and present themselves more and more to that presence in their mental, emotional, and physical union -- that union which was the culmination of God's creative work before the entrance of the serpent. Finding these forms is the spiritual challenge for couples and for the church today.


1. Vladimir Sergeiev Soloviev, The Meaning of Love, trans. Jane Marshall. London: Geoffrey Bles, The Centenary Press, 1945. For the genesis of Soloviev's teaching on love, see D. Stremooukhoff, Vladimir Soloviev and His Messianic Work, trans. Elizabeth Meyendorff, ed. Phillip Guilbeau and Heather Elise MacGregor (Belmont, Mass.: Nordland Publ., 1980), pp. 306-8.

2. Ernest Boyer, Jr., "Edges and Rhythms," in Sojourners 11:6 (June 1982). Cf. also A Way in the World: Family Life as Spiritual Discipline. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984.

3. Maillot, Vocabulaire Biblique, s.v. "Prière," quoted in Jacques Ellul, Prayer and Modern Man, trans. C. Edward Hopkin (New York: Seabury Press, 1973) 56.

Works Cited

Bailey, Derrick Sherwin. The Mystery of Love and Marriage: A Study in the Theology of the Sexual Relation. New York: Harper, 1952.

Boyer, Ernest. "Edges and Rhythms," in Sojourners 11:6 (June 1982): 16-17.

_______. A Way in the World: Family Life as Spiritual Discipline. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1984.

Cohen, Seymour J., trans. The Holy Letter: A Study in Medieval Jewish Sexual Morality. New York: KTAV Publishing House, 1976.

Cunningham, J.V. The Collected Poems and Epigrams. Chicago: Swallow Press, 1971

Danby, Herbert. "Keth, 5.6; Eliezer" in The Mishnah. Oxford, 1933.

Delooz, Pierre. Sociologie et Canonisations. Collection Scientifique de la Faculté de Droit de l'Université de Liège, no. 30. La Haye: Martinus Niihoff, 1969.

Emery, Pierre-Yves, Prayer at the Heart of Life, trans. William J. Nottingham. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1975.

Evdokimov, Paul. The Sacrament of Love: The Conjugal Mystery in the Light of the Orthodox Tradition. Paris: Éditions de l'épi, 1962.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Les Trois Ages de La Vie Intérieure: Prélude de celle du Ciel. Paris: 1938.

Holmes, Urban Tigner. A History of Christian Spirituality. New York: Seabury, 1980.

Olson, Charles M. "The Closet, the House and the Sanctuary," Christian Century 98 (9 December 1981): 1285-1289.

Porter, Katherine Anne. "Marriage is Belonging," in Collected Essays and Occasional Writings of Katherine Anne Porter. New York: Delacorte Press, 1970.

Scanzoni, Lethan and Nancy Hardestry. All We're Meant to Be. Nashville: Abingdon, 1974.

Schwartz, Arthur N., Cherie L. Snyder, and James A. Peterson. Aging and Life: An Introduction to Gerontology. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1984.

Washburn, Penelope. On Becoming Woman: The Quest for Wholeness in Female Experience. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

Williams, Charles. Descent into Hell. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1949.

Woodward, Kenneth L. Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't and Why. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1980.

Yelchaninov, Alexander. "Fragments of a Diary: 1881-1934," in A Treasury of Russian Spirituality, ed. G.P. Fedotov. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.