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...]

Living with Hospice

"The Grace in Dying" — a book which explores the contemplative dimension of death and dying

Today is my stepdaughter Rhiannon's 29th birthday. It's always a sweet day, but today is a bit sweeter than most, because just a few months ago we thought she wouldn't live to see it.As I've explained in a previous post, Rhiannon lives with kidney and liver disease. Born with polycystic kidney disease that was so serious she almost didn't make it out of neonatal intensive care, she developed problems with her liver as a result of her kidney problems. To top it all off, she is also … [Read more...]

A Prayer for the Morning

Beautiful God, Blessed Trinity, I thank you for the gift of this new day. O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. I ask for the gift of grace today. All that I long for can only come from you. I ask for the gift of peace today. Lead me to the silence deep beneath my inner turbulence. I ask for the gift of light today. May your resplendence shine on me, without and within, and on all people. I ask for the gift of true repentance today. Change my mind and give me the … [Read more...]

Finding Faith in Midlife

Catholic By Choice

Talk about a trip down memory lane.Richard Cole's Catholic By Choice: Why I Embraced the Faith, Joined the Church, and Embarked On the Adventure of a Lifetime (Loyola Press) recounts the story of how the author, at midlife, suddenly embraced the Catholic faith, even though he had spent most of his adult life looking down on religiously devout people as somehow mentally or emotionally deficient. Raised a mainline Protestant, like so many members of his (my) generation, Cole never gave the … [Read more...]

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

The Good Bishop

Blessed are the peacemakers, and today I want to celebrate two such persons in particular.I could have called this blog post "A Tale of Two Walters," for both of these men share that same slightly nerdy first name. Both are the subjects of recently published books: a biography of one; a memoir by the other. Each of these men died in 2012, and both were not only renowned, but controversial, for their commitment to social justice and progressive theology. Finally, both embodied a deep and … [Read more...]

Spirituality for the Second Half of Life… and Beyond

Sacred Fire

It's been almost three years now since the release of Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. But in that short time, it seems that this book has already become something of a minor classic, thanks to its insightful consideration of how the spiritual blessings, challenges, and concerns of people in the "second half of life" differ markedly from those in the first half. The first half is typically about building one's life: establishing identity, discerning and … [Read more...]


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