From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a January 1998 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

Twen­ty years ago Harper­San­Fran­cis­co pub­lished a book by an unknown writer — Richard J. Fos­ter — titled Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline. It received lit­tle mar­ket­ing and less pub­lic­i­ty until read­ers start­ed rec­om­mend­ing it to their friends. The rest, as they say, is his­to­ry. Sell­ing steadi­ly and con­tin­u­ous­ly since then, it has been trans­lat­ed from Eng­lish into four­teen lan­guages with more than one and one-half mil­lion copies sold worldwide.

As more than two peo­ple read each copy, Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline has had a pos­i­tive influ­ence on the lives of count­less peo­ple. Richard receives let­ters from peo­ple around the world who relate how it has helped them in their dai­ly walk with God. I talk with grad­u­ates of sem­i­nar­ies and col­leges who have stud­ied it in spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion and devo­tion­al life class­es. It has remained a best-sell­er for Harper­San­Fran­cis­co, and to cel­e­brate its longevi­ty and pop­u­lar­i­ty, Harp­er has giv­en Cel­e­bra­tion a new dust jack­et, and Richard has writ­ten an intro­duc­tion (see excerpt on pages 3 – 4). As you may have guessed by now, we are fea­tur­ing this 20th Anniver­sary Edi­tion — along with two com­pan­ion books, A Study Guide for Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline and Cel­e­brat­ing the Dis­ci­plines—on page 5. But before you turn to those pages, I want to share with you why I feel Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline is a must read for every­one who wants to grow spiritually.

Time­less and Accessible

The clas­sic Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines Richard names in Cel­e­bra­tion—med­i­ta­tion, prayer, fast­ing, study, sim­plic­i­ty, soli­tude, sub­mis­sion, ser­vice, con­fes­sion, wor­ship, guid­ance, and cel­e­bra­tion — are time­less. They have been prac­ticed by peo­ple of the Book — Jew­ish and Chris­t­ian — for cen­turies, and they con­tin­ue to be essen­tial for a full life in the king­dom. Their prac­tice pre­pares us to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done,” and, as we inte­grate them, love, joy, peace, patience, kind­ness, gen­eros­i­ty, faith­ful­ness, gen­tle­ness, and self-con­trol” over­come us (Gal. 5:22).

Richard not only names the clas­sic Dis­ci­plines of the spir­it, but makes them acces­si­ble to us through his sim­ple yet pro­found writ­ing. We don’t need a col­lege edu­ca­tion to under­stand why we should do them and how to get start­ed. He empha­sizes that they are for every­one — not just the reli­gious or cler­gy — and that we can do the Dis­ci­plines right now, right where we are, smack in the mid­dle of our jobs and our fam­i­lies, our church­es and our communities.

Inten­tion­al and Grace-full

In Cel­e­bra­tion Richard also prompts us to be inten­tion­al about our Chris­t­ian life, giv­ing us some­thing to do by work­ing with God on our spir­i­tu­al growth rather than by sim­ply sit­ting on our hands and wait­ing for God to res­cue us from a world gone bad. To be inten­tion­al about prac­tic­ing the Dis­ci­plines is to do them — know­ing that we change incre­men­tal­ly, not in giant leaps — and to be per­sis­tent — rec­og­niz­ing that spir­i­tu­al growth takes time.

Last­ly, Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline is full of grace. We are not con­demned for try­ing and fail­ing. We are not even made to feel guilty if we don’t try. Richard intro­duces us to the Dis­ci­plines in a way that makes us want to incor­po­rate them into our lives so that we can become like Christ. He leads us to be proac­tive rather than reac­tive; we learn to train rather than mere­ly to try. Won’t you join me as I con­tin­ue to study Cel­e­bra­tion and to do the Disciplines?


Lyn­da L. Graybeal

Text First Published January 1998

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >