Cats in the Cloister!

Here's your silly cat video for the day: filmed at the Optima Orthodox Monastery in western Russia, apparently this documents a daily occurrence in the cloister: as a monk walks through the grounds blessing the place, eight or so feline friends accompany him through the snow. Perhaps dinner awaits them when the task is done? Or perhaps these are "cloister cats" who take their formation seriously!Who says you can't herd cats?!? Although, if you watch the video all the way through it's pretty … [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...]

Books to Give Away this Christmas

It's that time of year again... Advent! And if you're like me and many other Catholics, you're devoting some energy into trying to honor the deeply contemplative spirit of the season, while at the same time keeping up with all the demands on your time: parties, planning, gifts to buy, presents to wrap, and so forth.Well, hopefully this blog post can be a wee bit of help. Here are seven ideas for books you might want to give to loved ones this year. Okay, it's actually eight (the last one is … [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...]

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...]

Instructions on Prayer from a Trappist Monk

"I'm speechless," remarked Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO, after a congregation of several hundred young evangelicals vigorously applauded his visit to their worship service last month. But then he quipped, "We don't talk in the monastery much."Grace Fellowship in Athens, GA (home of the University of Georgia) recently invited this deeply contemplative Trappist monk to come and speak to the congregation, comprised mostly of students. Grace's pastor, John Raymond, has for the past decade re … [Read more...]

Why I Wrote a Book About Christian Mystics

When Peter Gabriel came to Atlanta in 2003, my wife Fran and I were able to get tickets to the concert through a friend who works in the music business.Not only did we have the best seats in the house (right behind and above the soundboard), but we were seated next to a row of VIPs. In fact, the man sitting right next to Fran had a copy of the setlist, so obviously he was connected with the band. I started chatting him up, and when I asked him if he had a professional relationship with … [Read more...]