What is the relationship between Christian prayer and meditation?

A reader named Bill wrote to me recently and asked this question: How does a church pray as a group? Is there a place in the church for intercession and supplication? Should a congregation pray as a group? There is very little interest in prayer or teaching on prayer in the church I attend, although great interest in meditation and contemplation. This appears to be a contradiction in terms but sadly it is not. I’m just confused. Should not the Church be a “house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13)? Shou … [Read more...]

Mystery of the Missing Silence

To you, silence is praise, O God in Zion: and unto You shall the vow be fulfilled. ~ Psalm 65; Stone/Artscroll TranslationEveryone knows that nuances and shades of meaning get lost in translation. This is why Muslims insist on praying and reading the Quran in Arabic, and why up until about forty years ago, the Catholic mass was always prayed in Latin. Even the most artful and scholarly of translators will face countless challenges when attempting to render idioms, metaphors, puns, and words … [Read more...]

Why Silence Matters (Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgW0vuQnnYoSilence is the heart of the spiritual life, and especially of the Christian contemplative life. Fostering inner silence is a key to entering into the prayer of generous self-giving to the often-hidden but always present reality of the God who is here.Elsewhere I have written about how sacred scripture commends silence to us. In the video above I mention the words of noted spiritual author Thomas Keating, who in his book Invitation to Love said … [Read more...]

Thoughts are to contemplative silence like a monstrance is to the Host

The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines contemplation like this: A form of wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God's greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration; to look on Jesus and the mysteries of his life with faith and love. I emphasized "wordless prayer" because that is often what people struggle with the most. Critics of contemplation attack it because they see it as "emptying the mind" which they think makes it too similar to eastern meditation (which is an … [Read more...]

In Pursuit of Silence: A Quiet Movie with Much to Say

"Silence is where we speak something deeper than our words...""Silence returns us to what is real."These are two of many jewels of insight spoken over the course of In Pursuit of Silence, a luminous and vitally important movie, which, as far as I am concerned, everyone needs to see.In 2014 I interviewed the film's director Patrick Shen (read the interview here), and now I have had the privilege to screen the film ahead of its North American debut later this month at the SXSW Festival … [Read more...]

When Silence Rings

 A reader named Nick writes: I am interested in the subject of meditation and Christian meditation in general, but I have a minor concern. I would like to engage in practices like centering prayer, but in the instructions for these meditations, I often hear an emphasis on finding a silent place to engage in these activities. I don't have problems finding a silent place, but silence is not something that I carry with me. I have a condition called Tinnitus that causes me to perceive a rin … [Read more...]

Requiem for a Trappist Monk

Rest in peace, Father Luke Kot.Father Luke died tonight, at the age of 102.Father Luke was the last surviving of twenty Trappist monks who, almost seventy years ago, left Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to take the midnight train to Georgia, arriving on a rainy day in Atlanta in March 1944 — the Feast of St. Benedict — to move into a makeshift cloister in a barn on an old plantation some thirty miles southeast of the city. From that humble beginning came the Monastery of Our Lady of the Hol … [Read more...]