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Prayer of the Heart is the Heart of Prayer

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Scripture very bluntly tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God — and so, my brothers and sisters, I feel that I must begin today’s sermon by confessing one of my own sins. When I was a little boy — and I am not proud to admit this, but it is the truth — when I was a little boy, maybe four or five years old, I was a thief — and the object of my nefarious activity was the...

Secrets of the Sacred Heart

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The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs every year on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi. In 2018, that means it falls on June 8. Before I became a Catholic, I thought images and statues of the Sacred Heart were, well, a little creepy. I remember my first visit to Ireland, staying at B&Bs which allowed me an intimate glimpse into the homes of ordinary Irish folk. At...

Learning to Love the “Habit” of Spirituality

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We human beings are creatures of habit. We brush our teeth in the same direction, we take the same route to work, we fold our clothes or make our beds in pretty much the same manner day after day. We like to sit in the same pews at church and eat the same kinds of candy bars. We shop in our favorite stores and sometimes we even have a particular method of shopping (look at the clearance rack...

Mysticism, Separation, and Unity

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A friend on Facebook a few weeks back asked me what is the relationship between mysticism and separatism. Put another way: does the mystical life inherently involve a quest for separation — from the world, the flesh, the body, basically from all that is “not-God”? In other words, does our quest for union with God necessarily imply withdrawing from anything and everything that...

We Need to Find the Silence Within — Even in the Midst of a “Joyful Noise”

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Check out this insightful, evocative quotation from Barbara A. Holme’s wonderful book Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices in the Black Church: Those who study contemplation have assumed that the difference between European and Africana approaches to contemplation is the presence or lack of silence … We tend to presume that one must create silent spaces for contemplation. It is as...

Just What is Contemplation, Anyway? And Why Should I Care?

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A Jesuit priest, a Trappist monk, and a Tibetan buddhist walked into a bar. (No, this is not a joke). A sign above the bar said, “Free drinks to everyone in your party, if you can all agree on a definition of the word “contemplation.” Two hours later, the Buddhist and the two Catholics were very thirsty — and still arguing. Contemplation is one of those words that, frankly...

Why Christian Social and Political Activists Need Contemplation and Mystery — and Now More Than Ever

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Last week I attended a book signing at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip here in Atlanta, in which Jon Sweeney promoted his new biography, Phyllis Tickle: A Life. I’ve known Jon for years — we share a love for Cistercian spirituality and he edited my book The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader. But I wasn’t there just for Jon — I’m also very much a Phyllis Tickle fan, and...

What’s the difference between Ignatian Spirituality and Centering Prayer?

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What is the difference between centering prayer and Ignatian spirituality? To answer this question, let’s consider the difference between meditation and contemplation — or, perhaps we could say, the difference between a beautiful painting and the expansive wall on which it is hung. A reader of this blog recently posted this on Facebook: As I work with people interested in Centering Pray I...

Running After Something You Already Have

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I had a dream last night — about one of my favorite retreat centers, and one of my favorite books. The setting of my dream was the Montreat Conference Center, in Black Mountain NC, just up the road from Asheville. I’ve been to Montreat numerous times over the past six or seven years, but always in a leadership role. But in last night’s dream, I was a participant in a program, led by...

Meet Julian of Norwich

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I created this video using photographs that Fran and I took in Norwich, along with a few book covers and a wonderful photo of the stained glass of Julian in Norwich Cathedral, used by permission of the photographer. It’s just a brief little introduction to who Julian is, and why she matters. Less than 3 minutes long. Hope you enjoy it. And please, share it far and wide! The books that are...

On the Contemplative Role of the Ear… and the Tongue (Lectio Divina Diligens for Palm Sunday)

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Here is the final installment of my Lenten series on Lectio Divina I’m calling  Lectio Divina Diligens. Click on the link to read about this idea, if you’re not familiar with it. March 25 brings Lent to a close with Palm Sunday, marking the beginning of Holy Week. This week let’s reflect on the first reading, found in Isaiah 50:4-7. Lectio — reading 4 The Lord God has given me a...

Carl McColman

Soul Friend and Storyteller. Lay Cistercian, Centering Prayer Presenter, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Speaker, Teacher, Retreat Leader.

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