A Meditation on the Fruit of the Spirit (A Patreon Sneak Peek)


A note from Carl: Friends, I am currently writing a manuscript that I am calling Meditations on the Christian Mysteries. I’ve identified fifty-two key themes, wisdom teachings, and mystical principles of the Christian tradition — and each month, I take one of those themes and I wrote a meditation based on it. I’m well over halfway done — in fact, the meditation I’m sharing with you here is #37. I...

Two Essential Questions for the Mystical Journey


I was speaking with a few friends of mine who are spiritual directors recently, and we were talking about the work they do accompanying people who seek to draw closer to God. If you are not familiar with spiritual direction, it is a ministry of interactive care, in which a person supports another in the journey into deeper intimacy with God. A spiritual director does not “direct” in...

Do the Ten Commandments Still Matter?


N.B. Today’s post is a meditation on the Ten Commandments that I wrote for the people who support this blog through Patreon. I’m sharing this particular post with the public because I hope it will spark reflection and dialogue. Eventually every post I share with patrons will eventually be published, but if you’d like to be the first to see much of my new writing, then I hope...

The Cathedral Beyond the Forest (A Dream)


Last night I had this dream: Fran and I were visiting friends who had a beautiful house out in the woods. The house was covered with natural wood paneling that hadn’t been painted, maybe only varnished, so the beauty of the wood was apparent. The house was surrounded on all sides by woods, like my old house north of Monteagle where I lived from 1990 to 1993. I don’t know who lived there, but they...

The Problem with Christianity in a Nutshell


We all know that so many people today prefer to remain spiritually independent, intentional about cultivating their interior life but unencumbered by affiliation to a faith community. In other words: “spiritual but not religious.” We know that this annoys some religious people, while others seem to roll with it. Even though I remain engaged with Christianity-as-religion, I also try to...

Even Your Breath Can Be Your “Sacred Word”


A reader of this blog submitted this question: How explicitly Christian does the prayer word need to be in contemplative prayer (e.g., Centering Prayer)? My quiet-time practice is a hybrid of Lectio Divina with the Liturgy of the Hours. “No problem” with the three discursive steps of Lectio, but when I get to the non-discursive contemplatio, I struggle with monkey brain…...

Two Online Retreat Options for October: Celtic Wisdom and the Spirituality of Tolkien and Lewis!


Hi friends, just want to make sure everyone is aware of two upcoming retreats I am doing online. If one or both of these topics appeal to you, I hope you’ll join me! On October 22 and 23, the Rock Hill Oratory is sponsoring a retreat called “The Wisdom of the Christian Imagination” featuring insights from the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I know fantasy isn’t...

Catholic Spirituality versus the Institutional Church: Navigating the Choppy Waters


A friend on Instagram wrote this to me recently: Hello, Carl! I have become so drawn to the Catholic Church and I don’t know what to do. I am an LGBTQ+ Christian, and I have to admit, the sexual-abuse scandals in the RCC plus their stance on female clergy and birth control REALLY hold me back from going forth and becoming Catholic. And yet… I cannot seem to shake the desire to become...

My Latest Initiative, or, What is a “Contemplative in Residence”?


Friends, I am honored to announce that I have embraced a special relationship with one of Atlanta’s most progressive and visionary spiritual communities. I have been named the “Contemplative in Residence” for Zeitgeist Atlanta. What is a Contemplative in Residence? As you may know, many universities or non-profit organizations will appoint an “artist in residence” or...

Why the Desert Mothers and Fathers Still Matter


In one of his daily emails, Richard Rohr once admitted that he has some issues with the sayings of the Desert Mothers and Fathers — the early Christian hermits and monastics who lived in Egypt, Palestine and Syria in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Rohr admitted that, on some levels, because these writings are so ancient, they can be very problematic when viewed from the perspective of the 21st...

Faith, Science, PBS — and Trappist Monks


I’m so happy to share this segment from a recent episode of the PBS News Hour with you. It features the monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit — the monastery of which I am a Lay Associate. The topic is about how the monks are getting vaccinated to protect themselves from the coronavirus, but of course it’s also a wee glimpse into the world of the cloister, a world of prayer and...



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