“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...]

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...]

Deep Listening

The other day when several folks gathered at a church in Atlanta to participate in the Shalem Institute's 40th Anniversary "Circle the World in Prayer" vigil, one participant talked about a wonderful teaching she once received from Jerry May, who was a senior fellow at Shalem and the author of such classic books as Will & Spirit and Addiction & Grace. My friend shared an idea that May spoke of, called "deep listening." As we enter into silence, we consciously choose to let go of the … [Read more...]

Shalem Vigil Now Underway (Please Find Time For Silence Today)

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Last month I wrote about how important the Shalem Institute has been in my ongoing contemplative journey. I mentioned that this year is Shalem's 40th anniversary, and that October 13-15 Shalem would be hosting a 40-hour contemplative prayer vigil.The vigil began last night at 7 PM eastern standard time. It runs all day today and concludes tomorrow at 11 AM eastern standard time.So I hope if you haven't already done so, you will take time to enter into the mystery of silence today or … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Conclusion)

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This is the final part of a series on “Why Contemplation is Revolutionary.” If you want to start at the beginning, follow this link: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian.We've made our way through the quotations from Archbishop Rowan Williams and community theologian Kenneth Leech. We've looked at contemplation as a means for transformation. In the silence of "being still and knowing God," contemplation hones our awareness of the chaos within us (which fosters humility), but also of th … [Read more...]

Sharing in the Passion of Christ (Why Contemplation is Revolutionary, Part Eight)

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This is part of a series on “Why Contemplation is Revolutionary.” If you want to start at the beginning, follow this link: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian.When we struggle with contemplative practice — facing our own inner chaos, turmoil, and darkness — we participate in the passion of Christ, which is a deeply revolutionary matter.Here's what Kenneth Leech has to say: The contemplative shares in the passion of Christ which is both an identification with the pain of the world … [Read more...]


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