Why Trappists Make Great Spiritual Guides

The Silent Dialogue

If you want access to a living Catholic contemplative tradition, look to the Trappists.In the past few weeks I've read three books that demonstrate the wisdom of Trappist monks. Two of the books are new, and one is an overlooked gem from twenty years ago. One of the titles is written by a monk; the others by laypersons who share how the friendship and guidance of monks helped them in periods of transition in their own spiritual journey.First up is Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship … [Read more...]

Five Approaches to InterSpirituality

The Buddha and Christ (image credit: beachlane/shutterstock)

Brother Wayne Teasdale, author of The Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World's Religions and A Monk in the World: Cultivating a Spiritual Life, coined the new word "interspirituality." Sort of a mash-up between "interfaith dialogue" and "spirituality," interspirituality refers to the possibility or practice of integrating spiritual exercises and practices from more than one faith tradition into one's own expression of spirituality.Obviously this covers a wide … [Read more...]

Five Things I learned from Phyllis Tickle

Phyllis Tickle in 2009. Photo by Courtney Perr, used i accordance with Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

September 2015 has turned out to be a rough month, at least for awesome Anglican writers. First Kenneth Leech passed away on the 12th, and just ten days later Phyllis Tickle followed him into the silence of eternity.That's two authors I considered role models, both of whom warmly supported my own work. In fact, my forthcoming book Befriending Silence will feature an endorsement from Phyllis — the third time she offered praise for something I had written.I feel like one of the elves in M … [Read more...]

Happy St. Hildegard’s Day!

A Feather on the Breath of God

One of the most colorful and remarkable of mystics, of any age, is the irrepressible twelfth century Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Today (September 17) is her feast day.Hildegard was a Renaissance woman who lived several centuries before the Renaissance: not only was she a mystic and visionary, but she was also an accomplished musician, an artist (or, at least, an art director), a preacher, an herbalist, a prophet, and a respected leader in the church of her day. She lived at a … [Read more...]

In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech


I have learned of the passing of Father Kenneth Leech, who died on Saturday after a long illness. With his passing, we have lost one of the great contemplatives of our time, who was also a prophet for God's justice and mercy.He was born in 1939 and grew up in a secular home in the north of England. As a youth he was inspired by Alisdair MacIntyre (later famous for his renowned study of postmodern moral theory, After Virtue) who helped him realize that it is possible to have a critical, inq … [Read more...]

Five Things Christian Contemplatives can learn from Buddhists

The Meditation Hall, Dharma Jewel Monastery

Last night I attended a Beginner's Meditation Class at the Dharma Jewel Monastery in Atlanta. Dharma Jewel is the home to several Chan Buddhist nuns from Taiwan.Recently, two friends of mine — one a Zen Buddhist priest, the other a Catholic theologian — suggested within 24 hours of each other that I would enjoy exploring Chan (the Chinese form of what in Japan is called Zen). So I signed up for this class, figuring it would be a way for me to connect with the nuns here in Atlanta.I was bl … [Read more...]

The Contemplative Story of Dear Prudence

"Dear Prudence" by Prudence Bruns

I love the Beatles, and like many Beatles fans, I think The White Album is one of their great masterpieces. And one of the best songs on The White Album is, without question, "Dear Prudence."But did you know that the song was influenced by the music of the Gypsies, Transcendental Meditation, and the daughter (and sister) of Hollywood celebrities?"Dear Prudence" was written in early 1968, when the Beatles were in India, while John and George were studying Transcendental Meditation with th … [Read more...]