In Defense of Forgiveness


Forgiveness is a central tenet of Christian faith and practice. But what exactly is it? Is it an emotional process by which people are supposed to overcome hurt feelings — or is it something much deeper, much more radical and revolutionary? At least one person online thinks it’s all about the emotions; I’d like to make the case for something much more powerful and spiritually healing...

Questions After a Retreat: What Books to Read, What Steps to Take Next


Shortly after concluding my Praying with the Spanish Mystics Retreat, one of the persons who participated sent me this follow-up email: Hello. I have your book Answering the Contemplative Call, which I will be reading shortly. Which other books do you recommend for someone who attends silent retreats? I started reading Thomas Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain — what commentary book would you...

Missing Your Favorite Monastery or Retreat House? Here are Some Online Retreat Opportunities


In these extraordinary times that we find ourselves in, I have been profoundly moved at how meaningful online retreats and courses have become for so many. Everyone knows that Zoom is no substitute for a week at a monastery — but it’s much better than nothing! Here are some online events that will be happening over the next few months. Although they are sponsored by monasteries and retreat...

The Sheer Sound of a Still Small Voice


“God speaks to us in a whisper,” or so said an Episcopal priest I once knew. It was one of his trademark sayings, and the idea was obvious enough: if we want to discern the voice (will) of God in our lives, we had better listen carefully, because it won’t come with any amplification. While I can’t say so for sure, my hunch is that all this came from a reading of 1 Kings 19...

Your Home is Your Abbey; Your Heart is Your Cloister


I met a woman once, many years ago, who taught writing in a prison. She had the inmates read The Rule of Saint Benedict. She encouraged them to use the spirituality and culture of Benedictine monasticism as a way to reflect on their experience of incarceration. She certainly wasn’t the first — or the last — person to see a correlation between the cloister and correctional facilities. In her...

Advice for Surviving a Pandemic from Julian of Norwich


Anyone who spends time on this blog knows that I love Julian of Norwich; just as John Ruysbroeck was Evelyn Underhill’s favorite mystic, Julian is far and away my favorite. You can read a few of my previous posts about Julian here, here and here. Today I was prepared to write something about St. Patrick, given that tomorrow is his feast day, but — since we are now dealing with the COVID-19...

Celtic Spirituality, Celtic Prayer, and the Promises of the Heart: Three Contemplative Online Courses


It’s March, and that means St. Patrick’s Day is just a few days away! This year, instead of (or, in addition to) enjoying a pint of green beer, why don’t you observe St. Patrick’s Day by enrolling in a Celtic spirituality e-course through Spirituality and Practice? These courses are available “on demand” — which means you can sign up, and receive the course...

Less than 12% of the Catholic Catechism is devoted to spirituality. That, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the church today.


Over the years I have discovered that there are three types of people interested in Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality: Some are practicing Christians, active in their local parish or church but frustrated by what they see as the lack of spiritual nurture that takes place in such settings; Others are people who may have been raised in the church, but really have no connection to...

“Blessed are the Peacemakers” — Jesus Said It, and It Still Applies Today


A couple of days ago in a dream I was instructed to write about “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” At first I put it off, because it’s such a huge topic and I’m not sure how qualified I am to write about it. But then today, while working on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, I had the task of meditating on the Beatitudes. So it seems that I need to go ahead and listen...

Ora et Labora and Right Livelihood: Some Notes Toward a Contemplative Spirituality of Work


Most of us spend a lot of time working — so what is the spirituality of work? And how does work impact, or integrate with, our spiritual practice? The motto of Benedictine monasticism is Ora et Labora. It’s Latin for, “Prayer and Work” or “Prayer and Labor.” I love how the ora is actually found within labora, suggesting that prayer is (or can/should be) a part of...

The Paradox of Radical Trust


On his live album Precious Friend, Arlo Guthrie cracked a joke: “You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.” Seekers of holy nonduality recognize this: in the economy of grace, the words of the author of Ecclesiastes ring true as ever: “There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven: … a time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace.”...

Appreciating the Rosary as a Method for Contemplative Prayer


Nothing says “Catholic” quite as much as a rosary. But anyone — Catholic or Orthodox, Protestant or Pentecostal, Anglican or Evangelical — can find a way to incorporate the simple beauty of the rosary into the life of prayer. Think of a rosary as a tool, which can be used to foster contemplative silence or to train the subconscious into a life of habitual prayer and recollection...



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