Praying with the English Mystics


Dear friends, I have now experienced what it is like to direct a spiritual retreat online.

And while it is certainly not the same thing as a retreat in person (especially at a monastery, surrounded by the atmosphere of prayer and the timeless cadences of monastic chant), it is still a way for us to pause, take a deep breath, and attend to our souls — especially in this time of pandemic and social distancing.

Thanks to Br. Aidan of Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY, who invited me to lead this retreat online. The topic he and I chose was Praying with the English Mystics. The retreat consisted of three conferences, exploring the prayerful wisdom of Evelyn Underhill, Julian of Norwich, and the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing.

In case you missed it, we recorded the three sessions, which you can watch below. Also, below the videos is a link to a bibliography of recommended books by and about our three English mystics (along with a few other suggested titles).

Hope you enjoy this retreat — and that it encourages you to move deeper in your own journey of prayer, meditation and contemplation.

The first conference explored Evelyn Underhill’s teaching on meditation and contemplation from her books Mysticism and Practical Mysticism.

With the second conference we went back in time to the 14th century, where the medieval mystic Julian of Norwich spoke about the spirituality of seeking God, and deepening prayer through generosity and trust.

We finished the retreat by considering an anonymous book written during Julian’s lifetime, The Cloud of Unknowing, which offers detailed instructions for a contemplative way of praying — which in turn inspired the 20th century’s Centering Prayer movement.

Click here to download the Praying with the English Mystics Bibliography

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About the author

Carl McColman

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

By Carl McColman

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