Recommended Reading for Spiritual Accompaniment

Spiritual direction, also known as spiritual accompaniment, is an essential ministry for anyone seeking to embrace contemplative Christianity. Not only is it a vital and beautiful ministry to receive, but many find meaning and value in providing this kind of soul friendship and guidance to others.Recently a reader of this blog wrote to me and asked, "Do you have a list of books you recommend that discuss spiritual direction?" It has been over twenty years since my own formation as a sp … [Read more...]

The Place of Joy in Christian Spirituality

What is the relationship between prayer and joy? If we enjoy our prayer, does that mean we are avoiding the hard work of spirituality (which, at least in Christian terms, is meant to make us holy, not to entertain us)?I had an interesting little exchange on Facebook the other day, when a reader, who is a priest of the Church of England, took exception to the headline of my post from last year, called Five Ways You Can Enjoy a Deeper Personal Prayer Life.Reacting simply to that post's … [Read more...]

Reviving an old page from my first blog

Reading books about the spiritual life can be a substitute for actually devoting time each day to prayer. So if you have to choose between prayer and reading, make prayer your priority. Nevertheless, one of the best ways to nurture an ongoing prayer practice is to devote some time each day to reading nurturing and inspiring books — including books by and about the great Christian mystics.In 2007 (hard to believe it's been almost a decade), I set up my first Wordpress blog (Wordpress is one o … [Read more...]

St. Athanasius on the Nature of Angels

The Life of St Antony of the Desert, written by the fourth century Bishop of Alexandria, St. Athanasius, contains this charming passage in which the author explains a little bit about the nature of angels. What I love about this passage is, while he is not trying to make a point about how contemplative the angels are (and how their presence in our lives helps up to be more contemplative), that is nevertheless pretty much the gist of what he's saying. The holy angels are friendly and calm in … [Read more...]

Contemplation and Peace

A Facebook friend shared with me that she has been "thinking about contemplative prayer as a resource for peacemaking or for community building." Especially given the horrors in Orlando this past weekend, perhaps this is something we all need to be thinking about. Is contemplative prayer a meaningful tool for fostering reconciliation? Can it foster peace — not only inner peace, but peace in the world as well?I don't have any scientific data to help provide any kind of definitive answers to th … [Read more...]

Remembering (and Praying with) Evelyn Underhill

Today (June 15, 2016) marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the death of Evelyn Underhill, the Anglo-Catholic writer who probably did more than anyone else in the first half of the twentieth century to promote Christian mysticism as a spiritual path for everyone, not just priests or saints, monks or nuns. In this way she anticipated the Second Vatican Council and its affirmation of a "universal call to holiness." Underhill is best remembered for her landmark book Mysticism: A Study in the … [Read more...]

Rehabilitating Catholicism?

Rodney Stark is a Protestant historian who teaches at a prominent Baptist university. He's not exactly the kind of academic one might expect to write a book defending Catholicism from the prejudicial myths that have dogged the faith over the past few generations. Yet that is exactly what he has done with Bearing False Witness: Debunking Centuries of Anti-Catholic History. Written for the general public rather than for scholars, it is an engaging and at times eye-opening read, and I think it has s … [Read more...]