Why Trappists Make Great Spiritual Guides

The Silent Dialogue

If you want access to a living Catholic contemplative tradition, look to the Trappists.In the past few weeks I've read three books that demonstrate the wisdom of Trappist monks. Two of the books are new, and one is an overlooked gem from twenty years ago. One of the titles is written by a monk; the others by laypersons who share how the friendship and guidance of monks helped them in periods of transition in their own spiritual journey.First up is Seeking Surrender: How My Friendship … [Read more...]

The Intelligent Person’s Guide to Prayer

Arriving at Amen

Like so many folks in the blogosphere, I was fascinated by the story of Leah Libresco, atheist blogger who in 2012  surprised all sorts of folks by converting to Catholicism. I haven't been a regular follower of her blog, either before or after she entered the Church, but the few times I've checked it out her writing struck me as articulate, intelligent and thoughtful.So when Libresco's first book, Arriving at Amen was published, I jumped at the chance to review it. And I'm happy to say t … [Read more...]

Seven Essential Thomas Merton Books

New Seeds of Contemplation

Today is the 100th anniversary of Thomas Merton's birth.To celebrate this day here is a list of seven books I would recommend to anyone who wants a grounding in Merton's life and wisdom, without having to read all of his many books. With over seventy titles to his name, it can be daunting to approach his work, especially for the first time. I hope this list will help readers to find the key themes and insights of his body of work; and even if you are a long-standing fan of Merton, maybe … [Read more...]

Following the Ancient Path Today


If you're anything like me, the first thing you'll notice about The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today is how beautifully designed the book is. The dust jacket features a fifteenth century fresco by Giovanni Pietro da Cemmo, of Saints Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and Jerome. It is simultaneously elegant and inviting. The book itself presents a polite and at times engaging story in which a popular Catholic musician tells the story of his own spiritual … [Read more...]

Mainline Neo-Monasticism?


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...]

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...]

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...]