For years now I have loved Psalm 37, for it includes one of my favorite verses in all of scripture: Take delight in the Lord,     and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) But there’s much more to this Psalm than that one splendid verse, excellent as it is. I’ve been reading Alexander Ryrie’s Silent Waiting: The Biblical Roots of Contemplative Spirituality, which contains a lengthy chapter called “Waiting for the Lord in the Psalms.” This chapter includes commentary… Read more

N.B. Today’s guest post is by Judith Valente, poet, Benedictine oblate, and author of How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning, and Community. To read the first post in this series, click here: Anam Ċara in Verse: How Poetry Is a Soul Friend.   Gray mist between trees Portal we pass through en route To new adventures — Judith Valente   There are times when a particular moment might grasp our attention. We stop, listen,… Read more

Prayer and meditation — at least for people who believe in God, they go together like love and marriage (or a horse and a carriage). A few months ago The Little Book of Christian Mysticism was published. It’s a book I edited/curated, a collection of over 300 quotations from Christian mystics, arranged for devotional use. It’s meant to be a springboard for your personal meditation. The book features the wisdom of Julian of Norwich, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Ávila, John… Read more

In response to my article The Self, Self-Esteem, and Dying to Self, one reader posted this question: So…I’m just curious but how do you suggest one can find a balance between the two? I agree with your article and I’m grateful that you mention how Christian culture can cause us to have low self esteem as I feel like that’s a large reason why I don’t like myself, however other times I fear I’m just selfish and narcissistic and I… Read more

In response to my recent article Why Are Mystics So… Weird?!?, one reader posted this comment/question: One thing I’d like to see some work on is reintegration. By this, I mean how to integrate with “polite Christian society” when you clearly don’t fit. … It’s one thing to be a Christian mystic in a monastery or nunnery, another to be a mystic in the local Baptist church. Living like this often gets one “invited to seek fellowship elsewhere.” … What about… Read more

I love booklists. I find browsing someone’s list of recommended titles is a great way to find a new treasure. This is an admittedly idiosyncratic list of books that I recommend for your consideration. Obviously I lead off with books on contemplation/mysticism, since that’s the main focus of this blog. But I wander a bit off topic as the list goes on… browse on, you’ll see for yourself. It’s an eclectic, ecumenical, and interfaith-friendly assortment. Books are like people — none are… Read more

Today’s guest post is by Mark S. Burrows, translator of Rilke’s Prayers of a Young Poet. Of Rainer Maria Rilke’s many extraordinary poems collected in Prayers of a Young Poet, #18 beckons us to an extraordinary insight, one startling for those already familiar with his writings or those for whom he is a complete unknown. To understand its frame of reference, remember that Rilke wrote these poems as if they were penned by an old Russian Orthodox monk and icon painter (or,… Read more

A reader of this blog named John wrote to me a while back and asked this question: In your opinion, what role does self worth play in faith and from where does self worth come? Since it’s a broad question, I wrote back to him to get a bit of clarification. In my response, I wrote: Many of us learn not to love ourselves, thanks to the toxicity of our culture and the fact that so many families are wounded…. Read more

If you love the spirituality of the English people, a new treat awaits you, courtesy of Paraclete Press (and SLG Press in the UK). A collection of essays by Sr. Benedicta Ward, SLG, has just been published, called Give Love and Receive the Kingdom: Essential People and Themes of English Spirituality. Sr. Benedicta Ward teaches the history of Christian Spirituality at Oxford. She is a respected authority on figures as diverse as the Desert Fathers and Mothers, the Venerable Bede,… Read more

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Saint Paul throws down the spiritual gauntlet. He instructs his readers to “pray without ceasing.” For almost two thousand years now, Christian saints, nuns, monks, and mystics have been trying to unpack that simple three-word verse (just two words in the original Greek). What, pray tell, did Saint Paul mean? Did he expect us to go through life, every waking hour engaging in a never-ending interior dialogue with God, sort of like The Truman Show On… Read more

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