What is Contemplation?

What is contemplation? Unfortunately, answering this question is tricky — for contemplation is like some other words in the English language, such as love or success or happiness.  In other words, different people use it to mean different things.Recently a reader named Daniel sent me this message:I've been gradually learning about contemplative spirituality for a couple of years now.  Throughout this journey I've continually wondered how "contemplation" should be defined.  I've discovered t … [Read more...]

Georgia Author of the Year!

This past Saturday evening I received a lovely honor. The Georgia Writers' Association selected me as a "Georgia Author of the Year" in the Inspirational/Religious category for Befriending Silence.The Georgia Author of the Year Awards is the oldest literary awards ceremony in the southeastern United States, started by the Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists in 1964 and hosted by the GWA since 1994.Befriending Silence was among 154 nominations in 14 categories that include both fi … [Read more...]

Charismatic Mysticism

"Do Gifts of the Spirit, especially those like tongues, have any connection with mysticism? Historically, theologically, experientially, in connection with the Divine... If so, in what way, and if not, why not?"A few months back, I asked folks on Facebook if they had any questions they would like me to address on my blog. Here is what a person named Anna wrote in reply:Well - this was a question I asked when I was on my silent retreat in a very small Christian ashram in South India last ye … [Read more...]

Remembering the Monks of Tibhirine

May 31, 2016 marks a grim anniversary in the history of the Cistercian Order. It's been twenty years since the assassination of seven Trappist monks of Notre Dame de Atlas Abbey in Tibhirine, Algeria. The monks, who had been kidnapped by insurgents two months earlier, were probably killed on May 21; their remains were recovered ten days later — on May 31. The circumstances surrounding their death — and who was responsible — remains clouded in mystery.The Martyrs of Atlas, as they have come to … [Read more...]

Mystagogy: the Heart of Spiritual Formation

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults — the Catholic process by which adults enter the Church — suggests that there are four stages or steps in the process of Christian initiation. These steps — evangelization, catechesis, initiation, and mystagogy — not only define the journey of general formation in the life of Christ (in other words, "becoming a Christian") but they also give us insight into the process by which followers of Christ are called "deeper" into the contemplative or mystical li … [Read more...]

Who’s Who Among the Christian Mystics…

My friends, I'm happy to announce my forthcoming book, due in October 2016.Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages is a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I originally envisioned including a section in that book that would serve as a sort of who’s who of mysticism, with entries for all the major figures that gave biographical informa-tion, key teachings or ideas, and a representative quote or two. For a variety of reasons, that never came to pass, and so The Big B … [Read more...]

Coming in the Fall of 2016

Friends, I'm so excited to announce my forthcoming book, due in October 2016 from Hampton Roads Publishing Company: Christian Mystics: 108 Seers, Saints and Sages.This book is designed to be a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. While that book explained the "what" and "why" of Christian contemplative spirituality, this book covers the "who" — by profiling the lives and teachings of over 100 of the most significant and interesting of the great mystics, from Biblical times … [Read more...]