Spirituality for the Second Half of Life… and Beyond

Sacred Fire

It's been almost three years now since the release of Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. But in that short time, it seems that this book has already become something of a minor classic, thanks to its insightful consideration of how the spiritual blessings, challenges, and concerns of people in the "second half of life" differ markedly from those in the first half. The first half is typically about building one's life: establishing identity, discerning and … [Read more...]

The Silence of the Heart

Silence of the Heart

In its very last paragraph, Norris J. Chumley describes Be Still and Know, his new book on contemplative silence (hesychia), as a "research study." And therein lies what is both wonderful and frustrating about this book.First, the frustration: the book reads like someone's PhD dissertation. While Chumley provides a concise historical survey of the development of hesychasm, or the practice of meditative silence through the Orthodox Jesus Prayer (Prayer of the Heart), and follows up the … [Read more...]

The Choices We Make Determine Who We Are

Drawing by St. John of the Cross

This morning I was reading St. John of the Cross, and came across this passage.An act of virtue produces and fosters in the soul mildness, peace, comfort, light, purity, and strength, just as an inordinate appetite brings about torment, fatigue, weariness, blindness, and weakness. Through the practice of one virtue all the virtues grow, and similarly, through an increase of one vice, all the vices and their effects grow.—John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel, I.10.5 from The C … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Evagrius Ponticus, fourth century Christian contemplative

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Sometimes When I Sit in Silence…

Chateau d'Amboise

Contemplative prayer — the prayer of sitting in silence, waiting in faith and trust on God — needs to be a daily practice. There are a number of reasons for this, but today I'd like to look at something I experience in my own prayer. I have to eat a little bit of humble pie to write this, because I'm admitting how poor I am at praying. But the truth is the truth. I need to pray in silence every day because, well, most days my silent prayer is not all that silent. Futhermore (and this is actually … [Read more...]

Seven Books I Hope to Read in 2014

Mystagogy

Are you looking for a book or two to read, on the topics of contemplation or mysticism?I thought I'd offer a twist on the typical blog post where books get reviewed. Here is a list of seven books I hope to read, ideally sometime this year. Some of these books are brand new, others a few years old, others older still. They all touch on contemplative prayer, the Christian mystery, and/or interspirituality, in some form or fashion. A disclaimer: copies of three of these seven books were s … [Read more...]

Requiem for a Trappist Monk

Father Luke in the cloister.

Rest in peace, Father Luke Kot.Father Luke died tonight, at the age of 102.Father Luke was the last surviving of twenty Trappist monks who, almost seventy years ago, left Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky to take the midnight train to Georgia, arriving on a rainy day in Atlanta in March 1944 — the Feast of St. Benedict — to move into a makeshift cloister in a barn on an old plantation some thirty miles southeast of the city. From that humble beginning came the Monastery of Our Lady of the Hol … [Read more...]


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