Listening for the Heartbeat of God

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality By J. Philip Newell Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1997 Review by Carl McColman"Celtic Christianity" is the name given to a distinctive expression of the Christian faith that emerged in the lands where Celtic languages were spoken — Ireland, Scotland, and Wales in particular — during the 250 years following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early years of the fifth century. Essentially abandoned to fate and located far away from the … [Read more...]

Mysticism in a book?

A blogger named SaltSister recently wrote a post called The Mystic Way in which she takes aim at the kind of person who reads a book or two on mysticism and then decides that he or she is a mystic. While in principle I totally agree with her, the tone of her post bothered me a bit, so I posted a comment asking for clarification. After all, my blog is all about the joys of reading books by and about the mystics. Her response to me included this genuine jewel: "Studying to learn how to enter into … [Read more...]

Portraits of Grace

Portraits of Grace: Images and Words from the Monastery of the Holy SpiritBy James Stephen Behrens, OCSOSkokie, IL: ACTA Publications, 2007Review by Carl McColmanWindows feature prominently in this luminous collection of photography and pithy meditations from Trappist monk James Behrens. In this striking and singular glimpse into the multivalent world quietly hidden within a third millennium cloister, Behrens eschews stereotypes and clichés. Instead of pious images of monks praying or … [Read more...]

The Limitation of Christ

I can't resist a good pun, and the only thing I like more than a good pun is a really bad one. Yesterday when I was restocking books at the store where I work, I looked at Thomas à Kempis' The Imitation of Christ and thought "somebody should write a book called The Limitation of Christ." More cutesy than clever, I thought, and so obvious that it had probably been done a trillion times. So I was surprised when I couldn't find a book on with that title; indeed, when I googled … [Read more...]

Listen with Your Heart

Listen with Your Heart: Spiritual Living with the Rule of Saint Benedict By M. Basil Pennington, OCSO Edited by Br. Chaminade Crabtree, OCSO Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2007 Review by Carl McColmanMany books are available on the Rule of St. Benedict and how it applies to modern life. Esther De Waal, Joan Chittister, Michael Casey, Laura Swan, Norvene Vest and Elizabeth Canham are just a few of the writers who have offered their take on the Holy Rule for readers in our day. Almost without … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

No writing on the solitary, meditative dimensions of life can say anything that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees. These pages seek nothing more than to echo the silence and peace that is "heard" when the rain wanders freely among the hills and forests. But what can the wind say when there is no hearer? There is then a deeper silence: the silence in which the Hearer is No-Hearer. That deeper silence must be heard before one can speak truly of solitude. — Thomas M … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

...we who serve an entirely indoor God have lost a great part of our faith. We must break through the cold, hard walls of our institutionalized worship and reach for the soft, warm reality of God that is found out of doors. It is impossible to imprison God within walls of a church and yet claim that Christianity brings light, growth and life. We need to open the windows of our souls to admit God's creative energy. Our inside God is too small. We need to view him through the universe he … [Read more...]