Thought for the Day

Too many ascetics fail to become great saints precisely because their rules and ascetic practices have merely deadened their humanity instead of setting it free to develop richly, in all its capacities, under the influence of grace.

— Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech
Mysticism and the Divine Feminine: An Interview with Mirabai Starr
Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It's Because We All Do)
Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Carl Gregg

    Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from “Reaching Out” by Henri Nouwen:
    “Not too long ago a priest told me that he canceled his subscription to The New York Times because he felt that the endless stories about war, crime, power games and political manipulation only disturbed his mind and heart, and prevented him from meditation and prayer. That is a sad story because it suggests that only by denying the world can you live in it, that only by surrounding yourself by an artificial, self-induced quietude can you live a spiritual life. A real spiritual life does exactly the opposite: it makes us so alert and aware of the world around us, that all that is and happens becomes part of our contemplation and meditation and invites us to a free and fearless response.”

  • Al Jordan

    Being a career social worker and clinician, I’ve always believed that true spirituality can be a very messy thing when it puts on skin and lives in the everyday world…the very same world that God created and partners with us (in us) to redeem and make whole. Our deep contemplation lived outward becomes loving kindness and engaged compassion.

  • jane brunette

    While I can appreciate the dangers of quietude–and the dangers of taking any spiritual practice to it’s extreme–I tend to think that in our culture, we are far more likely to err on the other side. The problem I have with the story of the priest and the New York Times is the assumption that to stop consuming popular media means to cut off from the world. Sometimes I think the opposite is true. So much of what we call “the news” is just plain gossip, and somehow people think that reading the newspaper or the online news and having opinions about what is written there makes them real citizens, or involved in the real world. I’m not so sure I agree with that. How many people use the media as a virtual replacement for the world around them? Maybe that priest was able to come into a truer relationship with the real world of the here and now and of the breathing humans in his actual vicinity without the constant influx of what the media says is important.