A reader of my blog writes: “Christian Contemplative prayer gets a lot of bad press, as you are well aware. Many say there is no Biblical support for it whatsoever. Can you please give me your take on this.” Thanks for the question. The word contemplation, like the words mystic, mystical, mysticism and even spirituality, never appear in the Bible. Some folks might see this as reason enough to dismiss these topics as “unchristian.” But we know that language naturally… Read more

Note: Today’s post, by guest contributor Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, is an excerpt from his new book, Bruised and Wounded: Struggling to Understand Suicide. This may seem to be a difficult topic for the Advent season, but as anyone knows who has been touched by suicide (or even by the sudden death of a loved one, under any circumstances), loss and grief can be particularly acute during this time of year. So I’m honored to offer you Fr. Rolheiser’s thoughts on a… Read more

The great medieval mystic Julian of Norwich is renowned for her theological optimism (“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well”) as well as for her willingness to color outside the gendered lines (“As truly as God is our father, so too is God our mother”). She certainly demonstrated a clear contemplative sensibility (“The fullness of joy is to behold God in all”) — so it surprises me that more people… Read more

In his book Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World, Orthodox Christian author David Carlson explores how contemplative spirituality might offer a way of responding to the ever-present danger of terrorism and war in today’s world. Haunted by the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Carlson devoted a sabbatical to visiting a variety of both Orthodox and Catholic monasteries throughout North America, interviewing nuns, monks, and other spiritual seekers about how to discern a truly Christian response to… Read more

Today’s post is by guest contributor Mark S. Burrows, who is a poet and an authority on the great medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart. We live our lives, much of the time, within safe boundaries. It feels better to us. And, to be frank, who does not wish to be safe? Those who find themselves facing bodily threat, or illness, know that such matters allow little room for sentimentality. Safe is safe, period; our “fight or flight” reflex, rooted deep in… Read more

What is the relationship between silence and mystery? Why is silence such an essential part of spirituality (not just Catholic or Christian spirituality, but indeed all of the great spiritual traditions of the world religions)? Why are so many people uncomfortable with silence? And why is it that the world we live in keeps getting noisier and noisier? What can we do to find more silence in our lives, or to appreciate the silence when we do encounter it? And… Read more

December 6 is Evelyn Underhill’s birthday, born this day in 1875. Not only did she go on to become one of the most important Christian mystics of the 20th century, but she also influenced a number of key figures who came after her, including C. S. Lewis and Thomas Merton. A Trappist monk once told me that her book Mysticism was required reading when he was a novice monk in the 1950s. A remember talking to a seminary dean, probably 30… Read more

Today’s post is by a guest contributor: writer, photographer, and filmmaker Cassidy Hall.  …your silences will not protect you… — Audre Lorde I used to be a quiet kid that sat in the corner of the room when I’d get overwhelmed. If I was upset, you could find me crying somewhere alone or sprinting to the prairie-land just behind my childhood home for some comfort from the wide open sky. These were the ways in which I met myself; the ways… Read more

For #GivingTuesday this year, please support this blog. After much consideration (and prayer!), I’ve set up a page on Patreon — a website where you can support writers and other artists like me — people who are engaged in on-going creative work. My blog is a forum devoted to Christian mysticism and contemplative spirituality. I write about the wisdom of the great Christian mystics of the past, the practices that can help you foster a meaningful contemplative practice in your… Read more

Today’s post is by a guest contributor: Brother Mark Dohle, OCSO, who serves as the Guestmaster at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA.  Before embarking on some sort of journey, be it going to another destination, or planning a vacation etc., there can be the tendency to romanticize the process. Anticipation is often different than the actual experience. When pondering the need for silence, it can be one sided when it is simply being thought about or when… Read more

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