“Constantly Seek His Face”

Today’s Mass Readings (Hebrews 2:14–18, Psalm 105:1–9, and Mark 1:29–39) offer an interesting insight into the role of prayer in the life of faith.The Gospel reading, from the first chapter of Mark, gives us several stories of healing and exorcism in rapid succession. But there is a sentence right in the middle of the reading, that is very humble and unassuming, but I think it is so important for us to reflect on. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where … [Read more...]

Encountering Jesus through Questions in the Gospels

Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest of Christian mystics, understood clearly that the height of mystical spirituality, at least for Christians, must be grounded in the humble humanity of Jesus Christ. In chapter 22 of her Autobiography, she writes, I see clearly... that if we are to please God, and if He is to give us His great graces, everything must pass through the hands of His most Sacred Humanity, in whom His Majesty said that He is well pleased. I know this by repeated experience: o … [Read more...]

How to Think About Angels

Here is a wonderful description of angels from the anonymous Syrian monk who is now called "Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite." The angel is an image of God...... a manifestation of the hidden light...... a mirror, pure, bright, untarnished, unspotted, receiving, if one may say so, the full loveliness of the divine goodness and purely enlightening within itself as far as possible the goodness of the silence in the inner sanctuaries. This is from the treatise The Divine Names, as t … [Read more...]

Seven Ideas for a Contemplative New Year’s Resolution

Happy new year!'Tis the season for making a resolution for a positive change in our lives. It's easy to get cynical about new year's resolutions (how many of us join the gym in January, only to cancel our membership by March?), but I think we need to keep a positive attitude. Better to make a resolution and at least attempt to improve ourselves, than just not to bother at all.I think the best approach to a new year's resolution is to start small. Making a modest change in life — and stic … [Read more...]

A Christian Mystics Bibliography

In my books The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages, I suggest a number of books that anyone interested in learning more about Christian mysticism might enjoy.On this page I've gathered together those books (and a few audio recordings). For good measure, I've thrown in a few other important titles, and will continue to add useful books to this page as they come to my attention.I believe this list represents a comprehensive library of Chri … [Read more...]

St. Teresa’s Advice for Dealing With People Who Cannot or Will Not Engage in Christian Contemplation

Some things never change.Here's a little quote from Teresa of Ávila's classic book about prayer, The Way of Perfection: Let us now return to speak of those souls I have mentioned who cannot practise recollection or tie down their minds to mental prayer or make a meditation. We must not talk to them of either of those two things— they will not hear of them; as a matter of fact, there are a great many people who seem terrified at the very name of contemplation or mental prayer. The next time … [Read more...]

Cats in the Cloister!

Here's your silly cat video for the day: filmed at the Optima Orthodox Monastery in western Russia, apparently this documents a daily occurrence in the cloister: as a monk walks through the grounds blessing the place, eight or so feline friends accompany him through the snow. Perhaps dinner awaits them when the task is done? Or perhaps these are "cloister cats" who take their formation seriously!Who says you can't herd cats?!? Although, if you watch the video all the way through it's pretty … [Read more...]