Pentecost and Ecstasy

A reader of my blog named Paul emailed me the following question: I realize this is a difficult question to answer because of its lack of specificity, however any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.  The Pentecostal experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit, is it the same thing as experiencing the ecstasy of God? Thanks for your question, even though it does indeed lack specificity! It's a huge question, and I doubt that I can do it justice. So here are just a few thoughts, and I h … [Read more...]

Sanctity and Struggle, or, Why Saints Have Chaotic Inner Lives (Hint: It’s Because We All Do)

An editor at Patheos recently pointed me to the following trailer, and suggested I blog some thoughts in response to it.Well, aside from being very interested in seeing the film, it makes me ponder how so many people we think of as "saints" or "mystics" or particularly "holy" often have interior lives shaped by profound struggle.We need look no further than Thomas Merton. Granted, he's nowhere near canonization (and I doubt he ever will be — he's more like Meister Eckhart than John of … [Read more...]

In Memoriam: Kenneth Leech

I have learned of the passing of Father Kenneth Leech, who died on Saturday after a long illness. With his passing, we have lost one of the great contemplatives of our time, who was also a prophet for God's justice and mercy.He was born in 1939 and grew up in a secular home in the north of England. As a youth he was inspired by Alisdair MacIntyre (later famous for his renowned study of postmodern moral theory, After Virtue) who helped him realize that it is possible to have a critical, inq … [Read more...]

What Has Not Yet Been Revealed

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is I John 3:2. Here is a lectio divina meditation I recently wrote about this verse. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. I think there is a tendency to pay attention to the second half of the verse. "We shall be like God... we shall see God as God is." It's a powerful promise and a lovely summation of what has been cal … [Read more...]

Life is a Pilgrimage — So Embrace the Journey

Christine Valters Painter is one of the most creative and visionary of spiritual directors with a meaningful online presence. Her website, Abbey of the Arts, functions as a sort of "cyber-cloister," a place of quiet presence and spiritual nurture where participants are invited to encounter God not only through the words and practices of contemplative spirituality, but also — and perhaps more significantly — through creative expression.Paintner understands what Evelyn Underhill declared a cen … [Read more...]

Social Media… and Silence

Hi. My name is Carl and I'm a Facebook addict.("Hi, Carl!")This past weekend, against my better judgment, I got into an unpleasant debate in a Facebook group with a young person whom I do not know. No need to go into details here — let's just say that by the end, nobody was edified. Much of my weekend got swallowed up in a back-and-forth conversation that generated much more heat than light. I'm embarrassed that I allowed myself to get so thoroughly triggered, and that I kept going back f … [Read more...]

How to Keep a Holy Lent

Mardi Gras can be a lot of fun, but when Fat Tuesday ends, Ash Wednesday begins. Clean up the mess from the party, and recycle the empty bottles. Welcome to Lent.If you've never observed Lent before, or if it means nothing more to you than "forty days without chocolate," then here are a few thoughts to introduce you to this ancient Christian season. Lent is more than just a time of year — it's a spiritual practice.The word Lent comes from the Old English word lencten meaning "sprin … [Read more...]