What to Say to the Nay-Sayers: Talking About Contemplation With Its Critics

Often, remaining silent is better than getting into a pointless debate.

If you are active in a church or other faith community, and you are drawn to (or practicing) silent prayer, if you talk about it with others you will likely, sooner or later, hear somebody say something along these lines: “Isn’t meditation Buddhist? Or Hindu? Christians don’t need to do that sort of thing.” “Sitting […]

Mindfulness and Contemplation: What’s the Difference?

Like a gentle stream, mindfulness and contemplative prayer both seek clarity. Yet only prayer seeks the face of God.

Recently a reader left the following comment on this blog: I have been reading and tried to practice the way of a contemplative life although poorly I believe. But my hunger for anything on the topic of contemplation continues. Recently I have also been enticed into “mindfulness” practices. Now what or how do you relation […]

Artist, Mystic, Pilgrim, Companion: An Interview with Christine Valters Paintner

The Soul of a Pilgrim

Recently I had the opportunity to interview author and contemplative artist Christine Valters Paintner of the Abbey of the Arts. We talked about contemplative spirituality, pilgrimage, and her latest book,  The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within. The book celebrates the spirituality of pilgrimage by identifying eight essential practices that can […]

The Rule, the Discipline, and Spiritual Growth

Saint Benedict, author of the mostly widely used rule in western Christianity

I bet if I took a poll, almost everyone who reads my blog would agree with this statement: “I want to grow spiritually.” Readers of spiritual blogs want to grow in their faith and practice the way that readers of marketing blogs want to expand their business, or the readers of investment blogs want to […]

The Last Instructions of Christ to His Disciples

Gold mosaic from Neamt Monastery, Romania

In the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles, Jesus gives his disciples their last instructions before his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:6-12). The first chapter of Acts is one of the easiest chapters in the New Testament to gloss over. After all, the real action of Acts begins with the second chapter, which […]

Contemplative Leadership with Saints Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola

Saints Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola, Contemplative Leaders

In recent months I have become very interested in the topic of leadership. Which might seem silly, since I do not manage people, or lead a congregation, or hold a military command position. But I’ve come to recognize that “leadership” is a topic that has broad implications, broader than just our job descriptions. And for […]

You can do it, my friend: you can thrive with a daily practice of silent prayer

Photo by Fran McColman

In my travels I hear a lot from people who get discouraged regarding silent prayer. Some folks tell me their minds race too much when they try to pray in silence. Others tell me they’re so busy, they just can’t seem to find the time to pray. Still others talk about how they get bored during […]

Psalm 131: Humility, Silence and Hope

A Silent, Restful Place: Monastery of the Holy Spirit, photo by Haven Sweet.

Sometimes I get asked “Where is contemplation in the Bible?” One obvious answer to this question is Psalm 131. It’s a short Psalm, only three verses. Here it is in its entirety from the Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (but every translation works): O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised […]

Why We Need Contemplation

Ss. Teresa of Avila and Brigid of Kildare, St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Macon, GA. Saint Teresa and Saint Brigid were two great contemplatives who were also engaged in making the world a better place.

I am troubled by the idea that it’s harder to be a child today than it was when I was young. Is that just my personal angst, the anxiety of someone moving rapidly through midlife? Or is there some truth to my worrisome intuition? Well, consider the following sobering statements, all culled from recent articles on respectable news […]

The Dazzling Darkness

Photo by Fran McColman

“There is in God (some say) A deep, but dazzling darkness” — Henry Vaughan “Truly, you are a God who hides himself, O God of Israel, the Savior.” — Isaiah 45:15 “Your brightness is my darkness. I know nothing of You and, by myself, I cannot even imagine how to go about knowing You. If I imagine You, […]

My Forthcoming Book on Cistercian Spirituality

Abbot Francis Michael of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. Photo by James Behrens, OCSO

Dear friends, I’m excited to announce the title and subject of my forthcoming book. In July 2013 I began a conversation with an editor associated with Ave Maria Press about writing a book grounded in Cistercian spirituality. If you’re not familiar with it, this is the spirituality of Cistercian monks and nuns — including mystics like Thomas […]

Mary and Martha are Sisters

"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" by Diego Velázquez (1618)

A sermon preached at First Baptist Church, Springfield, Ohio, on October 26, 2014 Scripture: Luke 10:38-42 When I was a little boy, my brother took me to the theater to see my first movie. It was called The Parent Trap. While younger members of the congregation may remember the 1998 version starring Lindsey Lohan, those of […]