Books For Celebrating the Canonization of Mother Teresa

Next month, Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized — the process by which the Church formally recognizes that a person is a saint. Saint Teresa of Calcutta will join Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II as one of the most popular of contemporary saints. Indeed, it has been less than twenty years since her passing — just a few days after the untimely death of Princess Diana (I rather like to think that Mother Teresa tried to sneak out the back door while the world was busy mou … [Read more...]

Proof that the Contemplative Life is Good For You

Okay, my new hero is Sister Madonna Buder.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEf7MoQYgzEAlso check out the "behind the scenes" video.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEhKxszMd70&feature=youtu.be … [Read more...]

Books for Beginning the Spiritual Journey

Here is a list of several books I recommend for spiritual seekers — especially those who are working with a spiritual director or companion.When I recently posted a list of books for spiritual directors, I suppose it only made sense that someone would send along this request:https://twitter.com/professorasher/status/765294144998834180Thank you, Seth. I'm assuming that this list of books for directees would be aimed at persons who are relatively new to intentional contemplative s … [Read more...]

The Mystical Body

How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)?Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church here in Atlanta; like so many spiritual seekers of our time, Ray has been a wanderer, setting forth from his conservative Protestant upbringing to explore eastern spiritual paths such as Tibetan Buddhism … [Read more...]

Remembering the Three Dimensions of Prayer at Every Mass

Do you know why Catholics make three small crosses with their thumb — on their forehead, their lips, and their hearts — at every Mass when the Gospel reading is announced?Here is insight into this practice from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults: At Mass when the reading of the Gospel begins, we place the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts and pray, “May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.” Lips, minds, and hearts—these symbolize three kin … [Read more...]

Joyful Sanctity

What is the relationship between holiness and joy?A reader named Gordon writes, in response to my concerns about how "experience" can be misunderstood in a spiritual context:I agree with you that experience is not there for entertainment. But given my background in a very dreary fundamentalist religious upbringing, I always find the word "holy" very off-putting. It connotes too much the grey, dreary community of believers in the movie Babette's Feast that meet weekly for dreary worship. … [Read more...]

St. Benedict and the Prosperity Gospel

This past Tuesday night my wife and I went with some 19,000 other folks to hear Hillsong United, the Australia praise band famous for their song "Oceans," which is the closest thing I've ever heard to an actual contemplative piece of contemporary Christian music. It was quite the extravaganza: over two hours of praise music, the songs punctuated by earnest mini-sermons from the various band members on the necessity of forming or reaffirming an intimate relationship with Jesus, who loves us and wa … [Read more...]