Jesus, following the law of his people, instructed his followers to “love your neighbor as yourself.” But then he upped the ante by telling the story of the good Samaritan — in his society, the Samaritans were the social outcasts. Yet here was a parable in which the social outcast was a better neighbor to a man in need than the community and religious leaders who didn’t want to get involved. The message is simple: Our neighbors are not just the… Read more

“Prologue 9”? What does that mean, pray tell? It’s an allusion to the Rule of Saint Benedict, and — by a sort of happy coincidence — also to the Gospel of Saint John. Both the Rule and John are documents renowned for their prologue — and in both documents, verse 9 of the prologue is packed with meaning. The Prologue to Saint Benedict’s Rule is itself a renowned spiritual document, a stirring cry to holiness and fervor for anyone who… Read more

Recently I have read two wonderful books that offer a glimpse into the life of a Trappist monk and Trappistine nun. Both books are autobiographical, yet imbued with a deep and rich spirituality. Both of the authors entered the cloister before Vatican II, went on to become an abbot or abbess of their respective communities, and are still alive today. Taken together, these books celebrate the down-to-earth simplicity and beauty of monastic life as lived in our time — and… Read more

I’ve been re-reading Thomas Merton’s The Waters of Siloe for a class I’m teaching at the monastery. It’s basically Merton’s history of the Cistercian order, but it’s also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to… Read more

Today is my stepdaughter Rhiannon’s 29th birthday. It’s always a sweet day, but today is a bit sweeter than most, because just a few months ago we thought she wouldn’t live to see it. As I’ve explained in a previous post, Rhiannon lives with kidney and liver disease. Born with polycystic kidney disease that was so serious she almost didn’t make it out of neonatal intensive care, she developed problems with her liver as a result of her kidney problems…. Read more

Beautiful God, Blessed Trinity, I thank you for the gift of this new day. O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me. I ask for the gift of grace today. All that I long for can only come from you. I ask for the gift of peace today. Lead me to the silence deep beneath my inner turbulence. I ask for the gift of light today. May your resplendence shine on me, without and within,… Read more

Talk about a trip down memory lane. Richard Cole’s Catholic By Choice: Why I Embraced the Faith, Joined the Church, and Embarked On the Adventure of a Lifetime (Loyola Press) recounts the story of how the author, at midlife, suddenly embraced the Catholic faith, even though he had spent most of his adult life looking down on religiously devout people as somehow mentally or emotionally deficient. Raised a mainline Protestant, like so many members of his (my) generation, Cole never… Read more

Blessed are the peacemakers, and today I want to celebrate two such persons in particular. I could have called this blog post “A Tale of Two Walters,” for both of these men share that same slightly nerdy first name. Both are the subjects of recently published books: a biography of one; a memoir by the other. Each of these men died in 2012, and both were not only renowned, but controversial, for their commitment to social justice and progressive theology…. Read more

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,… Read more

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 history lesson with… Read more

Follow Us!

Browse Our Archives