The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus occurs every year on the Friday after the Feast of Corpus Christi. In 2018, that means it falls on June 8. Before I became a Catholic, I thought images and statues of the Sacred Heart were, well, a little creepy. I remember my first visit to Ireland, staying at B&Bs which allowed me an intimate glimpse into the homes of ordinary Irish folk. At that time the overwelming majority of the… Read more

Today’s guest post is by Neil Douglas-Klotz, author of The Little Book of Sufi Stories. What’s the story with Sufis today? Sufis, usually called the mystics of Islam, are best known in the West through the popular love poetry of Jelaluddin Rumi, the 13thcentury Persian mystic. Yet an internet search of “Sufi news” over the past year reveals that Sufis are just as present today as they were eight centuries ago and are playing a major role in the culture wars… Read more

We human beings are creatures of habit. We brush our teeth in the same direction, we take the same route to work, we fold our clothes or make our beds in pretty much the same manner day after day. We like to sit in the same pews at church and eat the same kinds of candy bars. We shop in our favorite stores and sometimes we even have a particular method of shopping (look at the clearance rack first, then… Read more

A friend on Facebook a few weeks back asked me what is the relationship between mysticism and separatism. Put another way: does the mystical life inherently involve a quest for separation — from the world, the flesh, the body, basically from all that is “not-God”? In other words, does our quest for union with God necessarily imply withdrawing from anything and everything that threatens to hold us back from God? Certainly mystical traditions from around the world — not just… Read more

Check out this insightful, evocative quotation from Barbara A. Holme’s wonderful book Joy Unspeakable: Contemplative Practices in the Black Church: Those who study contemplation have assumed that the difference between European and Africana approaches to contemplation is the presence or lack of silence … We tend to presume that one must create silent spaces for contemplation. It is as if we have drawn the spiritual veil around contemplative activity, seeking to distance prayerful and reflective practices from the noise of the… Read more

A Jesuit priest, a Trappist monk, and a Tibetan buddhist walked into a bar. (No, this is not a joke). A sign above the bar said, “Free drinks to everyone in your party, if you can all agree on a definition of the word “contemplation.” Two hours later, the Buddhist and the two Catholics were very thirsty — and still arguing. Contemplation is one of those words that, frankly, means different things to different people. Even religious people can’t figure… Read more

Last week I attended a book signing here in Atlanta, in which Jon Sweeney promoted his new biography, Phyllis Tickle: A Life. I’ve known Jon for years — we share a love for Cistercian spirituality and he edited my book The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader. But I wasn’t there just for Jon — I’m also very much a Phyllis Tickle fan, and relished hearing stories about the woman I’ve called “the merry doyenne of the ’emerging church’ movement.” Phyllis… Read more

What is the difference between centering prayer and Ignatian spirituality? To answer this question, let’s consider the difference between meditation and contemplation — or, perhaps we could say, the difference between a beautiful painting and the expansive wall on which it is hung. A reader of this blog recently posted this on Facebook: As I work with people interested in Centering Pray I also find an interest in Jesuit Spirituality. Could you do a short compare and contrast, or at… Read more

Richard Rohr — author of numerous books on the contemplative dimension of spirituality, including Everything Belongs and The Naked Now — is the guest on our latest episode of the Encountering Silence podcast. Cassidy, Kevin and I recorded a Skype conversation with Fr. Richard earlier this month, where he joined us from his hermitage in New Mexico, to reflect with us on the relationship between silence and contemplation, between contemplation and action, the importance of Thomas Merton in his own spiritual development, and the… Read more

There are still a few openings in the class I’m teaching in Manhattan on April 22, 2018. If you live in or near New York, I hope I’ll see you there. The class is called Be Still and Know: Reclaiming the Lost Art of Christian Contemplation and Meditation. Click on the title to learn more or to register. It runs on Sunday, April 22, from 9:30 AM to 4 PM, at the New York Open Center on 30th Street. Of… Read more

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