Mainline Neo-Monasticism?

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Elaine A. Heath is a true friend of contemplation.She recognizes the vital importance of bringing contemplative prayer and mystical spirituality not only into the local church, but into the hearts of the clergy and other ministerial leaders in the church. As a seminary professor (she teaches Christian Evangelism at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas) and Methodist elder, she understands the crisis that mainline churches are facing in our time; while as a student of the contemplative tr … [Read more...]

“Empty yourself completely and sit waiting”

Front Gate, Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers GA

I sometimes get asked if contemplative prayer is "really Christian." When someone asks that question, it's usually because they have noticed the similarity between practices like centering prayer and eastern disciplines such as zazen or transcendental meditation. The fact that many practitioners of centering prayer or other silent prayer forms tend to be interested in interfaith dialogue is sometimes worrisome to others, who do not have a sense of being called to interfaith dialogue and who only … [Read more...]

A Beautiful New Bible and a Contemplative Request

Bibliotheca: Making the Bible a beautiful book that will be a joy to read.

Today I wrote a letter to Adam Lewis Greene, who is known for his wonderful project, Bibliotheca, which achieved an awesome level of crowdfunding through Kickstarter. And yes, I'm one of the nearly 15,000 backers.It is a great concept. Greene is publishing a new edition of the Bible as four (or five, if you include the deuterocanonical books) separate books, each beautifully bound, with the text laid out for reading rather than for studying. So there's no verse numbers, endless annotations, o … [Read more...]

Beatrice of Nazareth: Seven Manners of Divine Love

"Beatrice of Nazareth" by Catholic artist Gwyneth Holston. Used by permission. www.gwynethholston.com

Today is the feast day of one of the lesser known of Cistercian blesseds (and medieval mystics), Beatrice of Nazareth, who lived ca. 1200-1268 CE.Born in or around 1200 CE, Beatrice of Nazareth was the youngest child of a devout Flemish family; her father may have been a mason involved in the construction of three different monasteries. A devout child, after her mother’s death when she was 7 Beatrice lived for a year with Beguines (lay women who lived communally). Afterward she went to live w … [Read more...]

Prologue 9

This 1996 translation of the Rule of St. Benedict, by Brother Luke Dysinger, gets it right.

“Prologue 9”? What does that mean, pray tell?It’s an allusion to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and — by a sort of happy coincidence — also to the Gospel of Saint John. Both the Rule and John are documents renowned for their prologue — and in both documents, verse 9 of the prologue is packed with meaning.The Prologue to Saint Benedict’s Rule is itself a renowned spiritual document, a stirring cry to holiness and fervor for anyone who might seek to follow the way of Christ without compromise. … [Read more...]

Monastic Life from the Inside

Light in the Shoe Shop

Recently I have read two wonderful books that offer a glimpse into the life of a Trappist monk and Trappistine nun. Both books are autobiographical, yet imbued with a deep and rich spirituality. Both of the authors entered the cloister before Vatican II, went on to become an abbot or abbess of their respective communities, and are still alive today. Taken together, these books celebrate the down-to-earth simplicity and beauty of monastic life as lived in our time — and for those of us who are n … [Read more...]

“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton in his hermitage. Photo by John Howard Griffin

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]


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