Why Evelyn Underhill Remains Required Reading After Over 100 Years

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZXAH-wchdE A Book for All Time: Why Evelyn Underhill’s Mysticism Still Matters For pretty much my entire adult life, if anyone would ask me who my favorite authors are, without hesitation I would say Evelyn Underhill and Thomas Merton. To me, the work of Evelyn Underhill represents the call for the revival of mysticism in our time, while Merton anchored the call to mysticism in the urgent political and social concerns that shape life in America over the last f … [Read more...]

Three Essential Elements of Christian Conversion

What is Christian conversion? In other words, what does it mean to truly respond to the love and call of God?Is following Christ merely a commitment to learn about Jesus, what he said and what he taught? Or is there a deeper dimension: how does following Christ make a real difference in our lives?To answer these questions, I'd like to share some thoughts on conversion that come from William Johnston's lovely book "Arise, My Love...": Mysticism for a New Era. Johnston was a Jesuit priest, … [Read more...]

It’s Not Too Late to Select Your Lenten Reading!

In chapter 48 of his Rule for Monasteries, St. Benedict instructs monks to read a book during Lent. During the days of Lent, they should be free in the morning to read until the third hour... each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through.  These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent. What's good for monks is good for the rest of us too.So in addition to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, I humbly encourage you to find a book to … [Read more...]

What is Christian Mysticism? (Video)

Last week I posted a video about Julian of Norwich which is the first of a series of videos in which I talk about various topics related to the Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality. Here is the follow-up to that video, where I try to answer the question, "What is Christian Mysticism?" It's based on Karl Rahner's often quoted soundbite that "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or... will not exist."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A-T-olAaWM&t=24sSo what is … [Read more...]

One Step Christians Must Take To Receive the Gift of Illumination

In his wonderful book about the present and future of Christian mysticism, "Arise, My Love...", author William Johnston, SJ tells a charming study about one of his brother Jesuits, Hugo Enomiya-Lassalle, who made an arduous journey to Thailand to meet with a renowned Buddhist teacher called Buddhadasa. Like Johnston, Enomiya-Lassalle was engaged in Buddhist-Catholic dialogue, so a meeting like this would have been significant for his work.After arriving in Bangkok and riding on a rickety old … [Read more...]

Five Ideas that Shape Contemplative Prayer

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Chris Anderson's TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. If your work in any way involves public speaking, I heartily encourage you to give it a listen. Chris is a humble and charming enough speaker in his own right, but fortified with tips and tricks, the do's and don't's, from the best speakers to give talks at TED Conferences over the years, the book provides an excellent survey of what really makes a speech effective.And one … [Read more...]

Who is Julian of Norwich?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPkdHMdtMw4&t=29sHere is a video filmed about a year and a half ago in which I talk about Julian of Norwich, one of the greatest of Christian mystics and the first woman to write a book in the English language, Revelations of Divine Love.Julian lived from late 1342 to probably around 1412. We know very little about her — indeed, we don't even know her real name, for "Julian of Norwich" refers to her parish church, St. Julian's Church in the English t … [Read more...]