What is the Relationship Between Contemplation and Privilege?

We live in a moment in history when, finally, our global human family seems to be starting to truly wrestle with the problems associated with systemic oppression — including racism, sexism, classism, and other ways in which we create social distinctions, or limit people’s freedom or opportunity, merely on the basis of their identity. There’s still much work to be done, but compared to where we were 50 or 100 years ago, it seems like progress is being made, however slowly. This,… Read more

Imagine Thomas Merton Teaching You a Class on Christian Mysticism…

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have access to the lecture notes of a class on Christian mysticism taught by one of the twentieth century’s greatest mystics? With the publication of Thomas Merton’s A Course in Christian Mysticism, that’s now possible. When Merton, the renowned twentieth-century monk and Catholic writer, was the Master of Scholastics at Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, he taught students on a variety of fascinating topics, including Benedictine and Cistercian spirituality, Celtic spirituality, interreligious dialogue, and the… Read more

The Church Says One Thing. My Conscience Disagrees. So What Do I Do?

For anyone who is trying to discern whether or not to become a Catholic, the question must begin with faith and with God. Read more

How to Practice Mindfulness without Narcissism

On Friday the Washington Post took a close look at the Mindfulness movement — and how at least in some sectors it has been undermined by good ol’ American narcissism. The article is well worth reading: Mindfulness would be good for you. If it weren’t so selfish. It is written by Thomas Joiner, a psychologist who authored a book on this topic, called Mindlessness: The Corruption of Mindfulness in a Culture of Narcissism. A little over four years ago, I was invited to speak… Read more

What to Do When Contemplative Prayer Leads to Sadness

A reader, who has asked to remain anonymous, writes: I have been practicing centering prayer for about 3 years. It took me a while, but I stuck with it and it has helped me immensely. Besides becoming more mindful, I also feel more centered and calm since beginning this practice. In the beginning it did bring out a lot of negative emotions to the surface that have since disappeared. I know 3 years is not much; I’m still just a… Read more

What I learned from the Solar Eclipse

I don’t remember much about the spring of 1970, when I was in the third grade. I remember the girl with whom I was rivals for smartest kid in the class (she now is a successful artist in California). I don’t think I had any rivals for nerdiest kid, but I escaped being bullied because somehow I managed to be friends with the biggest boy in the class (I have no idea whatever happened to him). I always got picked… Read more

Charlottesville

As someone whose ministry is focused on Christian contemplation, I do not like to write about politics. There are several reasons for this. One is simple humility: my skill as a writer and speaker is inspirational rather than confrontational, so my gut sense is to leave political writing to those who do it better than I could. But just as important is my deeply-held conviction that Christian contemplation is for everyone, across the political spectrum, and that I would be… Read more

How Should A Christian Respond When a Friend Becomes Interested in Witchcraft and Magic?

As long-standing readers of this blog know, I have not always been a Catholic; I embraced Catholicism in 2004 after a Protestant upbringing and then about a seven-year stint in which I followed a neopagan spiritual path. Indeed, I wrote a number of books about paganism, a fact I discussed in an earlier blog post, You Wrote Books About Paganism? These days, my work as a writer is primarily geared toward Christians, but I do not consider myself hostile to paganism… Read more

How do Contemplatives Share the Gospel with Others?

In my recent book, Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I made a comment that inspired a reader to reach out to me. It involves the question of evangelization, or proclaiming the Gospel. In reading this person’s email, I realized that it points to a larger question: how do contemplatives share the Gospel of Christ with others? Is there a “contemplative” style of evangelization? I believe there is. But first, here’s the letter from my reader. Hi Carl, I’m enjoying… Read more

Can We Measure the Scientific Benefits of Christian Contemplation?

A recent article on the UK-based website Christian Today (not to be confused with Christianity Today) poses the question “Can Science Prove Christian Meditation Works?” (click on the link to read the article). The author notes that spirituality is a “hot topic” these days, and so speculates how Christian forms of meditation stack up against meditation practices from other religious traditions and/or secular forms of meditation. “Buddhist meditation has long had a big advantage over Christian contemplation, because the latter hasn’t been scientifically researched,”… Read more

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