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...]

Compline — Prayer for the Closing of the Day

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QolGKCEaCtoThis video presents a service of Compline, sung live by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, England, under the direction of Graham Ross, recorded in Clare College Chapel.It includes an Introit by the sixteenth century composer, Robert White (1538-1574), Christe qui Lux es et Dies. It also includes an anthem by the nineteenth century composer, Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901), Abendlied.Compline is the final liturgical prayer office of the day … [Read more...]

Talking to Christine Valters Paintner about the Wisdom of the Body

My friend and colleague Christine Valters Paintner has recently released a book called The Wisdom of the Body: A Contemplative Journey to Wholeness for Women. I think the question of how do we cultivate a more truly embodied spirituality — including an embodied contemplation — is very important for our time, so I think this book has the potential to be truly healing and affirming for many women.The publisher sent me an advance copy and even though I'm not a woman, I still read it and enjoyed … [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...]

Five Ideas that Shape Contemplative Prayer

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Chris Anderson's TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. If your work in any way involves public speaking, I heartily encourage you to give it a listen. Chris is a humble and charming enough speaker in his own right, but fortified with tips and tricks, the do's and don't's, from the best speakers to give talks at TED Conferences over the years, the book provides an excellent survey of what really makes a speech effective.And one … [Read more...]

Seven Essential Books on the Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

The headwaters of the Christian contemplative and mystical tradition — aside from the Bible, of course — is the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, hermits and early monks and nuns who lived in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syrian in the third and fourth centuries.A literature of stories, parables, wisdom teachings, biographies, and even travelogues grew up around the lives and sayings of the Desert dwellers, giving us valuable insight into early Christian understandings of com … [Read more...]

A Candlemas Meditation

Today is the feast of the Presentation, traditionally known as Candlemas. It's a time when churches would hold lovely candlelight processions (they still do that at the Trappist monastery here in Georgia) and candles would be blessed on this day.It's a feast day to commemorate the day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem. The old prophets Anna and Simeon encountered the baby, and Simeon, who had been promised that he would live to see the Messiah, said these lovely … [Read more...]