Following the Good Shepherd

A Meditation for Good Shepherd Sunday (May 7, 2017)So I suppose the obvious topic for a reflection on Good Shepherd Sunday is… well… sheep!But I am not a farmer, I have never lived on a farm, in fact I don’t know that I have ever lived particularly near a farm. I’m a vegetarian, so I don’t eat mutton. Really, my knowledge of sheep pretty much begins and ends with a couple of nice wool sweaters that I own. And in Georgia, you don’t even need to wear those very often!But I’m not just tr … [Read more...]

Compass Points for the Spiritual Life (Video)

How do we orient ourselves in the life of the Spirit? What landmarks, or directions, guide us along the way as seek to walk the path of God?https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHiONeI1NQYHere is a video that was recorded a while back — I believe it was the summer of 2012 (I still had a beard, which didn't disappear until early 2015). At the time, I was playing around with the idea that spirituality functions as a kind of "compass" by which we orient our lives.But just as a compass o … [Read more...]

How to Cultivate Your “Contemplative Ecosystem”

Recently I had a wonderful conversation with Kevin Johnson, who contributes to the Inner Room blog here at Patheos. Kevin shares my deep conviction that contemplative practice forms an essential aspect of mature Christian discipleship.Among other things, we talked about how contemplative practice needs a supportive "ecosystem" so that meaningful attentiveness to God's deep silence can truly occur.So what is a contemplative ecosystem? Well, like any other ecosystem: it's a habitat, an e … [Read more...]

Three Essential Elements of Christian Conversion

What is Christian conversion? In other words, what does it mean to truly respond to the love and call of God?Is following Christ merely a commitment to learn about Jesus, what he said and what he taught? Or is there a deeper dimension: how does following Christ make a real difference in our lives?To answer these questions, I'd like to share some thoughts on conversion that come from William Johnston's lovely book "Arise, My Love...": Mysticism for a New Era. Johnston was a Jesuit priest, … [Read more...]

One Step Christians Must Take To Receive the Gift of Illumination

In his wonderful book about the present and future of Christian mysticism, "Arise, My Love...", author William Johnston, SJ tells a charming study about one of his brother Jesuits, Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, who made an arduous journey to Thailand to meet with a renowned Buddhist teacher called Buddhadasa. Like Johnston, Enomiya-Lassalle was engaged in Buddhist-Catholic dialogue, so a meeting like this would have been significant for his work.After arriving in Bangkok and riding on a rickety old … [Read more...]

Seven Tips for Returning to Church (After Being Away for Awhile)

Have you been away from parish life for a while, but now feel like returning?  You're not alone.Every now and then I hear from someone who, because they are interested in mysticism or contemplation, decide to participate in their neighborhood parish or congregation. Problem is, they left church many years ago (perhaps as a teenager or young adult) and now, deeply interested in the spiritual life, they recognize that they need a communal expression of faith but they simply find returning to ch … [Read more...]

Encountering Jesus through Questions in the Gospels

Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest of Christian mystics, understood clearly that the height of mystical spirituality, at least for Christians, must be grounded in the humble humanity of Jesus Christ. In chapter 22 of her Autobiography, she writes, I see clearly... that if we are to please God, and if He is to give us His great graces, everything must pass through the hands of His most Sacred Humanity, in whom His Majesty said that He is well pleased. I know this by repeated experience: o … [Read more...]