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...]

The Silence of the Heart

Silence of the Heart

In its very last paragraph, Norris J. Chumley describes Be Still and Know, his new book on contemplative silence (hesychia), as a "research study." And therein lies what is both wonderful and frustrating about this book.First, the frustration: the book reads like someone's PhD dissertation. While Chumley provides a concise historical survey of the development of hesychasm, or the practice of meditative silence through the Orthodox Jesus Prayer (Prayer of the Heart), and follows up the … [Read more...]

The Choices We Make Determine Who We Are

Drawing by St. John of the Cross

This morning I was reading St. John of the Cross, and came across this passage.An act of virtue produces and fosters in the soul mildness, peace, comfort, light, purity, and strength, just as an inordinate appetite brings about torment, fatigue, weariness, blindness, and weakness. Through the practice of one virtue all the virtues grow, and similarly, through an increase of one vice, all the vices and their effects grow.—John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, I.10.5 from The C … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Evagrius Ponticus, fourth century Christian contemplative

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Sometimes When I Sit in Silence…

Chateau d'Amboise

Contemplative prayer — the prayer of sitting in silence, waiting in faith and trust on God — needs to be a daily practice. There are a number of reasons for this, but today I'd like to look at something I experience in my own prayer. I have to eat a little bit of humble pie to write this, because I'm admitting how poor I am at praying. But the truth is the truth. I need to pray in silence every day because, well, most days my silent prayer is not all that silent. Futhermore (and this is actually … [Read more...]


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