The Desert Fathers on the Next Step

"Lot went to Joseph and said, 'Abba, as far as I can, I keep a moderate rule, with a little fasting, and prayer, and meditation, and quiet: and as far as I can I try to cleanse my heart of evil thoughts. What else should I do?' Then the hermit stood up and spread out his hands to heaven, and his finger shone like ten flames of fire, and he said, 'If you will, you can become all flame.'" —from The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks … [Read more...]

The String Cheese Incident on Silence

"The silence in your head Is louder than a hurricane The silence in your head Will never let you go" — Malcolm Burn and Kyle Hollingsworth, "Silence in Your Head," from One Step Closer by String Cheese Incident … [Read more...]

Centering Prayer

Today my friend Darrell and I are going to hear Thomas Keating speak in Atlanta. Keating is one of the major spokespersons for Centering Prayer, a method of Christian meditation (contemplation) developed by Trappist monks like Keating in the 1970s, based on the work of Thomas Merton and in response to the popularity of eastern meditation among young people at the time. Unlike many other forms of meditation, Centering Prayer maintains a strong relational and devotional element (it's not just a … [Read more...]

Teresa of Avila

Today is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Avila, who lived from 1515 to 1582. Teresa is well known for a number of reasons; she is one of only thirty-three Doctors of the Church, saints whose writings have been honored by Catholicism as timeless, exemplary teachings of the faith. Indeed, of the 33 doctors, only three are women (!), and Teresa was the first woman to have received this honor (other doctors of the church include St. Thomas Aquinas; St. Augustine; and Teresa's colleague and … [Read more...]

A Dozen CDs of Sacred Choral Music

William Byrd: Gradualia, the Marian Masses

 I love choral music, and I have a particular fondness for sacred choral music. I listen to Vaughan Williams' joyfully melodic Mass in G Minor almost every day, and great choral composers both ancient and modern — including William Byrd, Thomas Tallis, John Rutter and John Tavener — stay in heavy rotation on my iPod. This isn't just a fad I've embraced since becoming a Catholic, either; my love for sacred choral music goes all the way back to my college days, and continued to grow du … [Read more...]

M. Basil Pennington on the Search for God

"Among the Syrian Jews there is a series of stories about a very lovable old fellow by the name of Mullernestredon. One day this good man was seen busily searching in the village square, around the trees, under the carts, behind the trash cans. A sympathetic friend approached and asked if he had lost something. 'Yes, my key,' he answered. The friend joined in the search. After several fruitless and frustrating hours, the friend began to interrogate the old man: 'Are you sure you lost your key … [Read more...]

Feast of St. Francis

Today is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. One of the west's best-loved saints, some scholars (like Edward A. Armstrong, author of St. Francis: Nature Mystic) speculate that Francis may have been influenced by the Celtic tradition.Follow this link to read St. Francis' Canticle of Brother Sun. … [Read more...]