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The Love of Thousands: How Angels, Saints, and Ancestors Walk With Us Toward Holiness

Author: Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, OBLSB
Ave Maria Press
Publication date:
August 18, 2023


Is it possible that angels, saints, and even our departed ancestors support and inspire us throughout our lives? How can we connect with them in a real way?

Christine Valters Paintner, popular spiritual writer and abbess of the online Abbey of the Arts, says these sacred beings are paving the way for our journey toward God’s love, even as we pass through a world rife with struggle, discord, and violence. In The Love of Thousands, she helps us open up our spiritual imagination to encounter our heavenly helpers, allowing us to become everyday mystics.

Paintner describes saints, angels, and our ancestors as sacred beings who surround us like concentric circles, watching over us with compassion and offering us spiritual guidance throughout our lives.

In The Love of Thousands, she guides us to see the ways these beings support us, from the care of our guardian angels, to the wisdom of the mystics, to the witness of our loved ones who have crossed the threshold to the light of God’s presence.

Paintner’s gentle guidance reveals that we can be inspired and sustained when we are open and attentive in exploring our connections to these holy companions walking alongside us. Transformed by the encounter, we can grow into the kinds of ancestors—part of the Communion of Saints—who offer spiritual support and wisdom to others in turn.

Throughout The Love of Thousands, we are led to explore and better understand

  • the teachings from scripture and tradition about the four archangels, the protection offered by our guardian angels, and what it might look like to wrestle with angels as Jacob did in the Old Testament;
  • the witness of the saints and mystics, with an exploration of how we are all called to be mystics;
  • the tradition of relics and the practice of pilgrimage;
  • the presence of our ancestors, inviting us first to claim the blessings of our family heritage and then to embrace grief and explore healing the wounds of our lineage.

Each chapter includes a reflection, practice, meditation, and creative exercise that will help cultivate an ongoing relationship with angels, saints, and our ancestors. Paintner also suggests various ways to engage with this book to reflect more deeply on the spiritual content, such as reading it over the course of a year or with others as a form of spiritual pilgrimage.

Pray with the companion Prayer Cycle. Listen to the companion album.

The Love of Thousands Around the Web

Articles and Interviews:

US Catholic ~ Our Ancestors are Allies for Our Creative Journey

Interview in National Catholic Reporter ~ ‘The Love of Thousands’ Describes Building Bridges Beyond the Veil

Interview in Our Sunday Visitor ~ ‘The Love of Thousands’ Help Connecting to Our Spiritual Ancestors

Interview in The Christian Century – Our Unseen Companions


by Jon M. Sweeney at Spirituality & Practice

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Praise for the Book

Reading a book by Christine Valters Paintner is like going on a retreat in your own home. She tells meaningful stories, offers insightful guidance, and presents practical ways to bring spirituality into your heart, body and soul. With The Love of Thousands she invites readers into one of the most beautiful elements of Christian Spirituality: the Communion of Saints (and Angels, and Ancestors). But this is no mere abstract doctrine: the wisdom offered here can help make the love of our heavenly companions truly an embodied presence in our lives.
Carl McColman
Author of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism
In The Love of Thousands Christine Valters Paintner invites us to experience a more authentic way of being and teaches us how to live from there. Warm-hearted, its wisdom keeps us company, whether we are in grief’s wilderness, a joyful time, or another liminal place. Making space for our true, loving self to awaken and reawaken, it shares ways to travel soulcraft’s healing path together and walks us home.
Carmen Acevedo Butcher
poet and translator of Brother Lawrence’s Practice of the Presence and The Cloud of Unknowing
Reading The Love of Thousands is like gathering around a campfire on a clear starlit night or plunging into a cold refreshing stream. It awakens what we know by heart, lifting up simple practices that help us cultivate mystical presence. Drawing deeply from wells of human experience, Christine once again gives us a reliable hope, not just for our individual lives, but for the collective wounds plaguing our planet.
Dori Grinenko Baker
coauthor of Another Way
With her trademark commingling of erudite research and compassionate intimacy, Christine Valters Paintner gently pulls back the veils of both time and space that we might see all those who have come before us looking lovingly upon us in the shadow of every tree, in the echo of every bird’s song. Contemplative prayers and practices invite us into a sacred experience of the love that came before us, the love that surrounds us still, guiding us into the profound peace of knowing that we never walk alone.
Cameron Bellm
Catholic author and speaker
The Love of Thousands is actually a retreat on knowing life more richly.
Robert J. Wicks
author of Riding the Dragon