“Constantly Seek His Face”

Today’s Mass Readings (Hebrews 2:14–18, Psalm 105:1–9, and Mark 1:29–39) offer an interesting insight into the role of prayer in the life of faith.The Gospel reading, from the first chapter of Mark, gives us several stories of healing and exorcism in rapid succession. But there is a sentence right in the middle of the reading, that is very humble and unassuming, but I think it is so important for us to reflect on. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where … [Read more...]

How to Think About Angels

Here is a wonderful description of angels from the anonymous Syrian monk who is now called "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite." The angel is an image of God...... a manifestation of the hidden light...... a mirror, pure, bright, untarnished, unspotted, receiving, if one may say so, the full loveliness of the divine goodness and purely enlightening within itself as far as possible the goodness of the silence in the inner sanctuaries. This is from the treatise The Divine Names, as t … [Read more...]

Seven Ideas for a Contemplative New Year’s Resolution

Happy new year!'Tis the season for making a resolution for a positive change in our lives. It's easy to get cynical about new year's resolutions (how many of us join the gym in January, only to cancel our membership by March?), but I think we need to keep a positive attitude. Better to make a resolution and at least attempt to improve ourselves, than just not to bother at all.I think the best approach to a new year's resolution is to start small. Making a modest change in life — and stic … [Read more...]

Why I Still Recommend Verbum Software for Catholics… and for all Contemplatives

Two years ago this week, I wrote a glowing review of a Bible Software program called Verbum. Click here to read that review. Among other things, I said... I use Verbum every day. I repeat: every day. It’s not perfect, but it’s far and away the best Bible software I’ve ever come across. Twenty-four months later, and I'm still using this software every day.Not only do I consider Verbum an essential tool for my work as a Catholic writer, speaker, and catechist, but as a student of the contemp … [Read more...]

“You Wrote Books About Paganism?!?”

The late Kenneth Leech used to tell the story about giving a lecture at a seminary in America on the topic of race relations, and afterwards a seminarian seemed surprised to learn that he was the "same Kenneth Leech" who wrote books on spirituality. Apparently, the mind of this seminarian couldn't equate a social-justice Christian with a contemplative-prayer Christian.But yes, Leech-the-expert-on-racism and Leech-the-expert-on-mysticism were one and the same.I often have a similar c … [Read more...]

St. Benedict and the Prosperity Gospel

This past Tuesday night my wife and I went with some 19,000 other folks to hear Hillsong United, the Australia praise band famous for their song "Oceans," which is the closest thing I've ever heard to an actual contemplative piece of contemporary Christian music. It was quite the extravaganza: over two hours of praise music, the songs punctuated by earnest mini-sermons from the various band members on the necessity of forming or reaffirming an intimate relationship with Jesus, who loves us and wa … [Read more...]

St. Athanasius on the Nature of Angels

The Life of St Antony of the Desert, written by the fourth century Bishop of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, contains this charming passage in which the author explains a little bit about the nature of angels. What I love about this passage is, while he is not trying to make a point about how contemplative the angels are (and how their presence in our lives helps up to be more contemplative), that is nevertheless pretty much the gist of what he's saying. The holy angels are friendly and calm in … [Read more...]