Anthony de Mello (4 September 1931, Bombay, British India – 2 June 1987, New York, United States) was a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist who became widely known for his books on spirituality. An internationally acclaimed spiritual guide, writer and public speaker, de Mello hosted many spiritual conferences. See below for the names of these programs which are available on audio CD and film. He traveled to many countries to study and later to teach, most notably Spain and the United States.
One can actually listen to a live de Mello Conference, “Wake Up to Life”, the only full-length Conference he ever allowed to be recorded. Listeners across the globe, have found the program to be life-changing. It also includes many principles of psychology and psychotherapy; both of which de Mello practiced in his life. His main objective in the program is “Awareness”, waking up and being present to reality; which means one can be happy, loving, and real right now.
The few talks which he allowed to be filmed, such as “A Rediscovery of Life” and “A Way to God for Today,” have inspired many viewers and audiences since being released; and have been viewed by hundreds of thousands of tv watchers throughout the United States, Canada, and Central America; in colleges, universities, Newman centers, and communities. De Mello established a prayer center in India. He died suddenly in 1987. His works are readily available and additional writings were published after his death.
In 1998, some of his opinions were condemned by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, wrote for the Congregation:
‘But already in certain passages in [his] early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. … With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.’
His quite controversial paradigm for Catholic dogma is mainly because many of his ideas were influenced by Thai Buddhist teacher and founder of monasteries Ajahn Chah – who, some[who?] say, was a kind of teacher to him. Despite the Church’s condemnation, his works are popular especially among those interested in Ignatian Spirituality.
Some editions of his books have since been supplemented with the insertion of a caution:
‘The books of Father Anthony de Mello were written in a multi-religious context to help the followers of other religions, agnostics and atheists in their spiritual search, and they were not intended by the author as manuals of instruction of the Catholic faithful in Christian doctrine or dogma
- Official de Mello site
- Online de Mello resource including Videos & MP3s
- Summary of his writings
- Notification Concerning the Writings of Fr. Anthony de Mello, SJ
- Tony de Mello, S.J.: A Short Biography, by Bill De Mello (brother)
- Here & Now with Anthony de Mello, a 2001 workshop presentation by Malcolm Nazareth
- Spiritual Stories from Anthony de Mello
- Anthony de Mello quotes
- Rediscovery of Life, a conference by Tony de Mello in 5 parts
Anthony DeMello talks about praying from the heart. He is at his best in encouraging us to be fully in touch with truth, beauty, and joy. Fr. De Mello’s approach mixes common sense, startling originality, and wisdom from many sources in the East and West. Segment 1 – How to pray. Segment 2 – How to be real Segment 3 – How to love In this program of three thirty-minute segments, Father Anthony de Mello gives a complete course on spiritual freedom. Using stories, anecdotes, and humor, he begins by focusing on prayer and continues with the topics of freedom and love. Father de Mello’s approach mixes common sense, startling originality, and wisdom from many sources in the East and West. He gives his presentations to a studio audience and handles questions that will provide a beginning for your own group discussions.
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
CONCERNING THE WRITINGS OF
FATHER ANTHONY DE MELLO, SJ
The Indian Jesuit priest, Father Anthony de Mello (1931-1987) is well known due to his numerous publications which, translated into various languages, have been widely circulated in many countries of the world, though not all of these texts were authorized by him for publication. His works, which almost always take the form of brief stories, contain some valid elements of oriental wisdom. These can be helpful in achieving self-mastery, in breaking the bonds and feelings that keep us from being free, and in approaching with serenity the various vicissitudes of life. Especially in his early writings, Father de Mello, while revealing the influence of Buddhist and Taoist spiritual currents, remained within the lines of Christian spirituality. In these books, he treats the different kinds of prayer: petition, intercession and praise, as well as contemplation of the mysteries of the life of Christ, etc.
But already in certain passages in these early works and to a greater degree in his later publications, one notices a progressive distancing from the essential contents of the Christian faith. In place of the revelation which has come in the person of Jesus Christ, he substitutes an intuition of God without form or image, to the point of speaking of God as a pure void. To see God it is enough to look directly at the world. Nothing can be said about God; the only knowing is unknowing. To pose the question of his existence is already nonsense. This radical apophaticism leads even to a denial that the Bible contains valid statements about God. The words of Scripture are indications which serve only to lead a person to silence. In other passages, the judgment on sacred religious texts, not excluding the Bible, becomes even more severe: they are said to prevent people from following their own common sense and cause them to become obtuse and cruel. Religions, including Christianity, are one of the major obstacles to the discovery of truth. This truth, however, is never defined by the author in its precise contents. For him, to think that the God of one’s own religion is the only one is simply fanaticism. “God” is considered as a cosmic reality, vague and omnipresent; the personal nature of God is ignored and in practice denied.
Father de Mello demonstrates an appreciation for Jesus, of whom he declares himself to be a “disciple.” But he considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is “awake” and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God. In addition, the author’s statements on the final destiny of man give rise to perplexity. At one point, he speaks of a “dissolving” into the impersonal God, as salt dissolves in water. On various occasions, the question of destiny after death is declared to be irrelevant; only the present life should be of interest. With respect to this life, since evil is simply ignorance, there are no objective rules of morality. Good and evil are simply mental evaluations imposed upon reality.
Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one’s personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.
With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.
The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.
+ Joseph Card. Ratzinger
+ Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli