Richard of St. Victor on Contemplation

The more I read Richard of St. Victor, the more I love him. Here are a few jewels from the fifteenth chapter of Book IV of The Mystical Ark:See to it that the very time He begins to knock at the door is not the first time that you begin to want to throw out the crowds of those who make noise... All thoughts, empty as well as  noxious, which do not serve for our benefit must be judged to be strangers. In truth, we possess them like domestic servants or slaves, whom we involve for our use or … [Read more...]

Three Myths of Mysticism?

Last night I joined the good folks at Countryside Church in Omaha, NE for their weekly webcast, Darkwood Brew. Needless to say, our topic was Christian mysticism. The host, Dr. Eric Elnes, invited me to comment on what he described as three "myths" related to Christian mysticism — three common misconceptions that many Christians might have about mysticism that might prevent them from taking it seriously as a means of fostering a deeper spirituality.Here are the three myths:That m … [Read more...]

Buy my Kindle

I've just upgraded my Kindle. Which means I have an old one in need of a new home.If you'd like to be its new owner, just head over to eBay to place a bid.If the winning bid is above $75, I'll throw in an autographed copy of The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader.This is the 2011 model Kindle Touch, with the Amazon black leather case. The case has some scuffs on it, but the Kindle itself is in like-new condition. Of course, the cable is included, but I don't have original … [Read more...]

Before the Cloud of Unknowing…

Before the Cloud of Unknowing, Richard of St. Victor (who lived in the twelfth century, a contemporary of Hildegard of Bingen and Bernard of Clairvaux) wrote this lovely passage in his work called The Mystical Ark: When birds want to fly they spread out their wings. So, we surely ought to spread the wings of our heart by longing and wait for the time of divine showing at every house — nay, rather at every moment, so that at whatever hour the breath of divine inspiration drives away the clouds o … [Read more...]

A Prophetic Word from Kenneth Leech

Again and again, the Anglican theologian Kenneth Leech strikes me as one of the most important voices in contemporary Christian spirituality. Here is a passage from an introduction he wrote to a book, now long out of print, called Three Spiritual Directors for Our Time (by Julia Gatta, published by Cowley Publications, 1986):The demand for spiritual direction, which has become something of an epidemic in parts of the United States, is an understandable reaction against consumerism. But it is … [Read more...]

Hildegard of Bingen Retreat in Atlanta This Weekend

This past weekend I led a retreat on Hildegard of Bingen at the Oratory in Rock Hill, SC. We explored Hildegard's life, visions, writings, music, and illuminations, with an emphasis on how to apply her wisdom to our lives today.If you're in the Atlanta area — I'm offering a similar program this coming weekend at the Amerson House of Hospitality and Contemplative Life located on the grounds of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, 1790 LaVista Road, Atlanta. You can sign up for just the Friday e … [Read more...]

The Rare Handful? (Jean Leclercq’s Definition of Mystical Experience)

In the Classics of Western Spirituality edition of the Selected Works of Bernard of Clairvaux, Benedictine scholar Jean Leclercq, OSB offers the follow definition of "mystical experience":...those rare occasions when a handful of Christians may enjoy sublime states of prayer and union with God.What do you think? I have problems with the idea that mystical states are "rare" and only available to a "handful" of Christians. Perhaps Leclercq is trying to protect the integrity of the "sublime" … [Read more...]