The Three Streams of Celtic Spirituality (and Three Lessons We Learn from it)

Friends, I am in the process of writing a book about Celtic spirituality. This will be the first book on Celtic wisdom that I have written since becoming a Catholic in 2005. Over the next few weeks I hope to post excerpts from the manuscript to this blog, both to share with you what’s on my mind these days but also to garner any comments or feedback you’d like to share. Please remember that this is “unvarnished” writing — the book… Read more

How Julian of Norwich Changed My Life

Julian of Norwich, the author of Revelations of Divine Love, had a series of visions on May 8, 1373. Or maybe May 13, we’re not entirely sure.[1] Nevertheless, today is a day that people around the world honor as a memorial of Julian’s extraordinary encounter with Divine Love. And it was 33 years ago on this date — May 8, 1984 — that I attended a one-woman play about Julian of Norwich, at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. I… Read more

Following the Good Shepherd

The sheep obey Jesus not because they’re stupid, not because they’ve been trained the right way, but because they know his voice. They trust him. Read more

Compline — Prayer for the Closing of the Day

This video presents a service of Compline, sung live by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, England, under the direction of Graham Ross, recorded in Clare College Chapel. It includes an Introit by the sixteenth century composer, Robert White (1538-1574), Christe qui Lux es et Dies. It also includes an anthem by the nineteenth century composer, Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901), Abendlied. Compline is the final liturgical prayer office of the day. It represents the final prayers that anyone praying the Divine Office (the Liturgy of the Hours) prays before… Read more

Essential Writings from Two Important Living Catholic Authors

Orbis Books has a long-standing collection of books called the “Modern Spiritual Masters Series.” With over sixty titles to date, this series anthologizes writings from key spiritual authors of the 20th and 21st centuries, ranging from Thomas Merton to Evelyn Underhill, from Dorothy Soelle to Howard Thurman. While the featured authors are mostly Christian, other significant figures appear as well, such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. Modern Spiritual Masters Books are excellent introductions and career-spanning overviews of some… Read more

How the Deserts of Egypt Inspired the Saints of Ireland

In the Celtic lands, you’ll find places with names like Dysart or Dysert. There’s Dysart in Scotland, a suburb of Kirkcaldy, where a Celtic holy man named St. Serf once lived. Or there’s Dysert O’Dea in Co. Clare, Ireland, the site of a monastery said to have bene founded by St. Tola in the eighth century. Others can be found, sprinkled across the land, often with some sort of connection to a saint or monastery of old. These places are… Read more

When a Jesuit talked to a Franciscan (Video)

Check out this video, where two of my favorite living Catholic authors — Fr. James Martin, SJ and Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM — have a chat together at a religious education congress a couple of years ago. James Martin is a Jesuit and is an editor at large of America magazine; Richard Rohr is a Franciscan and the director of the Center for Action and Contemplation. Both are widely admired, not only within the Catholic Church, but also beyond it. Martin is… Read more

Can Beauty Help Us to Be More Ecumenical?

Five hundred years ago this coming October, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on a church door in the University town of Wittenberg. He was just an academic interested in having a debate, but his unlikely act was the flashpoint in what we now call the Protestant Reformation. For centuries, bitterness, acrimony, mutual suspicion, and at times even violence enforced the line of separation between Catholic and Protestant. Within the last century, however, ecumenism — an effort to at least improve… Read more

C. S. Lewis, Brendan the Navigator, and Evelyn Underhill

In March I was one of several presenters at a symposium on C. S. Lewis and Joy Davidman sponsored by Brenau University and Grace Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA. The theme of the symposium was “Love Letters to Jack, Love Letters to God.” Here is the transcript of my talk, in which I weave together my love for C. S. Lewis — especially the Narnia stories — with two influences on him: Evelyn Underhill and St. Brendan the Navigator. Did “The… Read more

A Contemplative Faith — with a Gaelic Accent!

Friends, 2017 is shaping up to be the year of Celtic spirituality for me. I hope you’ll join me in exploring this lovely dimension of Christian wisdom. What, exactly, is Celtic Christianity? Sure, it’s the spirituality found in books like John O’Donohue’s Anam Cara or Esther de Waal’s Every Earthly Blessing, among many others. But still: what is it? The easiest answer to this question is: the distinctive spirituality of the Celtic peoples, which includes the people of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of… Read more

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