Via Mystica


Is the Liturgy of the Hours a Required Practice for Christian Contemplatives Today?


A reader writes, I’ve been leaning into a contemplative way of life for a couple of decades now… I’ve settled down into a daily pattern of Examen, Lectio Divina, and Centering Prayer. Along this way, I’ve used Daily Office or Liturgy of the Hours. But I moved on, as they were “busy” and “noisy.” Every now and then, especially when I’m on a...

Teresa of Ávila: A Passionate Mystic of the Love of God


Visit the Cornaro Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, and you will see a 17th century masterpiece of Baroque sculpture: Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s The Ecstasy of St. Teresa. This life-sizes statue depicts a nun reclining with a look of bliss on her face, while a grinning cherub stands before her, an arrow pointed at her heart. It is a striking work of art — but the...

A Reason Why Liturgy Matters: "Like Staring Out Into Eternity"


So often, it seems to me, that people who are drawn to the Christian tradition of mysticism and contemplation are eager to learn practices like Centering Prayer or the Jesus Prayer — but they are far less enthusiastic about some of the less “glamorous” Christian practices, like participating in the Mass or the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office or the Daily Office)...

Is Mystical Spirituality an Appropriate Response to the Social and Political Crises of Our Time? Absolutely.


I am writing these words on a Monday morning following two mass shootings that occurred on the previous weekend — one in El Paso, TX, and the other in Dayton, OH. These two events left over thirty people dead and many others wounded, both physically and emotionally. Like many Americans, I am alarmed at what seems to be an escalation in mass violence. Statistically speaking, mass shootings are...

Centering Prayer: Embracing Every Moment of Silence and the Presence


Like many people who are blessed with material abundance, I have more books than I have time to read them. I was so gratified when I recently learned of the Japanese word tsundoku, which loosely translated means “books piling up faster than you can read them.” The idea is that owning lots of unread books can be a sign of curiousity and intellectual humility: knowing that there is more knowledge...

Finding a Mystical or Contemplative-Friendly Neighborhood Church


A reader named Connie wrote to me and asked the following question: Is there a mystic/al church? What would it look like? Does such a thing exist in your experience? It’s a great question. I imagine anyone who truly learns about the spirituality of Christian mysticism can’t help but wonder what it would be like to be part of a neighborhood church that took contemplation and mystical...

Via Mystica — An Online Resource for Exploring Christian Mysticism


Friends, I’m pleased to announce that I have launched a new section on this website called Via Mystica. To visit it, click here: www.viamystica.com. Via Mystica is a website devoted entirely to the study and practice of Christian mystical spirituality. It’s still in its beginning stages, but let me share with you my vision for what it can be. My intention is for this to be an online...

What Do We Mean When We Talk About God


A reader writes, Carl, after reading the article today, What is Spiritual Formation?, I wondered if you’ll tell me what you meant by the word ‘God’? I get stuck on the ‘personification’ of God, the way God is referenced as a real person by so very many Christians who conceive of God as a ‘being/human form sitting on a cloud in the sky’, or some variation...

What is Spiritual Formation?


My children, I am again in the pain of childbirth, until Christ is formed in you… — Galatians 4: 19 For God beholds with his merciful eyes not what you are, nor what you have been — but what you would be. — The Cloud of Unknowing The Spiritual Renaissance Spirituality — the life of the Spirit — has enjoyed a renaissance in our day. My parents, of the World War II generation, never talked...

Five Ways to Think About Mysticism


Mysticism is a notoriously squirrelly word to try to define. In The Big Book of Christian Mysticism I devote an entire chapter to defining mysticism, and even then I admit that defining this word is like trying to put love into a bottle. Not long after the book was published in 2010, I was asked to lead a Friday/Saturday retreat at a Disciples of Christ Church near where I live. The topic for our...

Nondual Christianity and the Problem of Evil


A reader of one of my previous blog posts sent me this question via Facebook messenger. I read your article about non dualism Nonduality in the Bible … and us. So what about scriptures about God hating sin, wickedness, evildoers etc… Or am I misunderstanding? Also there’s a lot of…... Read more at Patheos

Are Art and Mysticism Two Sides of the Same Coin?


I’ve been thinking about the relationship between contemplation and creativity. This is inspired in part by the many contemplatives who are also artists. We see this in the past — think of William Blake, or Johann Sebastian Bach, or of course poets like John of the Cross and Thomas Merton.…... Read more at Patheos

Your sidebar area is currently empty. Hurry up and add some widgets.

Question? Comment?

I'd love to hear from you!