Contemplation and Peace

A Facebook friend shared with me that she has been "thinking about contemplative prayer as a resource for peacemaking or for community building." Especially given the horrors in Orlando this past weekend, perhaps this is something we all need to be thinking about. Is contemplative prayer a meaningful tool for fostering reconciliation? Can it foster peace — not only inner peace, but peace in the world as well?I don't have any scientific data to help provide any kind of definitive answers to th … [Read more...]

Remembering (and Praying with) Evelyn Underhill

Today (June 15, 2016) marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill, the Anglo-Catholic writer who probably did more than anyone else in the first half of the twentieth century to promote Christian mysticism as a spiritual path for everyone, not just priests or saints, monks or nuns. In this way she anticipated the Second Vatican Council and its affirmation of a "universal call to holiness." Underhill is best remembered for her landmark book Mysticism: A Study in the … [Read more...]

Rehabilitating Catholicism?

Rodney Stark is a Protestant historian who teaches at a prominent Baptist university. He's not exactly the kind of academic one might expect to write a book defending Catholicism from the prejudicial myths that have dogged the faith over the past few generations. Yet that is exactly what he has done with Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. Written for the general public rather than for scholars, it is an engaging and at times eye-opening read, and I think it has s … [Read more...]

What is Contemplation?

What is contemplation? Unfortunately, answering this question is tricky — for contemplation is like some other words in the English language, such as love or success or happiness.  In other words, different people use it to mean different things.Recently a reader named Daniel sent me this message:I've been gradually learning about contemplative spirituality for a couple of years now.  Throughout this journey I've continually wondered how "contemplation" should be defined.  I've discovered t … [Read more...]

Georgia Author of the Year!

This past Saturday evening I received a lovely honor. The Georgia Writers' Association selected me as a "Georgia Author of the Year" in the Inspirational/Religious category for Befriending Silence.The Georgia Author of the Year Awards is the oldest literary awards ceremony in the southeastern United States, started by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists in 1964 and hosted by the GWA since 1994.Befriending Silence was among 154 nominations in 14 categories that include both fi … [Read more...]

Charismatic Mysticism

"Do Gifts of the Spirit, especially those like tongues, have any connection with mysticism? Historically, theologically, experientially, in connection with the Divine... If so, in what way, and if not, why not?"A few months back, I asked folks on Facebook if they had any questions they would like me to address on my blog. Here is what a person named Anna wrote in reply:Well - this was a question I asked when I was on my silent retreat in a very small Christian ashram in South India last ye … [Read more...]

Remembering the Monks of Tibhirine

May 31, 2016 marks a grim anniversary in the history of the Cistercian Order. It's been twenty years since the assassination of seven Trappist monks of Notre Dame de Atlas Abbey in Tibhirine, Algeria. The monks, who had been kidnapped by insurgents two months earlier, were probably killed on May 21; their remains were recovered ten days later — on May 31. The circumstances surrounding their death — and who was responsible — remains clouded in mystery.The Martyrs of Atlas, as they have come to … [Read more...]