Today’s post is by a guest contributor: Jon M. Sweeney, author of numerous books including The Saint Francis Holy Fool Prayer Book. I’ll always remember the day I decided to introduce my daughter to one of my favorite movies, Singing in the Rain. We sat and watched it together on the couch. She didn’t wiggle much and laughed at the right places. But then we got to the title song and dance number and there was Gene Kelly, blissfully enjoying a rainstorm…. Read more

This post is a sequel to my post from last week called How to Find a Mystical Teacher. The person who originally wrote to me, responding to that post, in which I argued for the importance of embedding our quest for mystical training with engagement in a community of faith. She wrote: I do attend a local church.  After a long search, I have found a church home in the Episcopalian Church (ECUSA).  And, I do study the Bible.  I… Read more

A reader sent me this message the other day: I am loving your book, Christian Mystics, as I read it. I, myself, am tending to that life, and I have tried to find another, experienced Christian mystic from whom I can receive guidance. But, so far, I’ve only found two, a monk and a nun. I tried to contact the monk, but it turns out he is totally withdrawn to a life of prayer and meditation and doesn’t give guidance such… Read more

Note: the following quotations are excerpted from The Little Book of Christian Mysticism which features over three hundred quotations of the mystics, from Biblical times to the present day. Seek by reading and you will find by meditating; cry in prayer and the door will be opened in contemplation. — Saint John of the Cross The important thing is not to think much, but to love much; do, then, whatever most arouses you to love. — Saint Teresa of Ávila… Read more

It’s always a little awkward to write about my own books. But today’s post is in response to a reader of my blog who asked me this question: Carl, Is there an order in which you would recommend reading your books? Is there a flow? Thanks for asking. I’m only going to address the books I’ve written or edited since becoming a Catholic — there are five in print now, and a sixth one is coming out next spring. They… Read more

A reader of my blog writes: How do you know if a certain spiritual experience is God-inspired, ego-driven, or tricks of the devil. How do you discern the meaning of such an experience? Can you give me some clues? This is the kind of thing that a number of mystics struggled with — including some of the greatest spiritual teachers of the Christian tradition, luminaries like St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and St. Teresa of Ávila…. Read more

A reader on Facebook recently asked me: How do Eastern and Western non dualism differ? So here’s my reply… It’s a great question and I’m not sure anyone can truly answer it. Not only are there profound cultural, philosophical, and theological differences between eastern and western wisdom traditions, but also subtle but real differences in the ways that meditation is taught and practiced. Finally, even if someone tries to master both “eastern” and “western” approaches to contemplation, the person’s personality,… Read more

Recently a reader of this blog posted this question: Just curious Carl — what does your typical schedule look like? How do you put it all together? I think the larger question here is how can anyone — not just me — cultivate a daily contemplative practice. So I’ll answer the question, but then I want to reflect on the question of a regular practice in general. Forgive me for humbly declining to directly answer your question. If I describe my practice, some… Read more

I have a new book coming in April 2018: The Little Book of Christian Mysticism! Click on the title to pre-order your copy today. The Little Book of Christian Mysticism invites you to delve into the writings of the great contemplatives and mystics of the past two thousand years. Featuring over three hundred quotations from great mystics from Biblical times to the present day, The Little Book of Christian Mysticism provides a user-friendly, insightful, and potentially life-changing introduction to the essential teachings… Read more

Spirituality — at least, the kind of spirituality that is anchored in a relationship with God — has two essential movements: God’s initiative, and our response. As the 1st letter of John puts it, “We love because God first loved us.” God’s “first love” is the first movement of the spiritual life, and our responsive love — not only toward God, but toward our fellow human beings — is the second movement of the spiritual life. Learn about an upcoming online… Read more

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