“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton in his hermitage. Photo by John Howard Griffin

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Evagrius Ponticus, fourth century Christian contemplative

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Michael Nugent understands idolatry but gets heaven wrong

The Irish atheist Michael Nugent has some interesting things to say about the use and abuse of faith in a recent opinion piece published in the Irish Times. Faith ceases to be a virtue when it has little connection with facts of reality, he asserts, and points out that placing our faith in secular "gods" (like the banks or capitalism in general) can be as irrational as placing faith in religion or priests. He goes on to make an interesting statement: "all 'gods', whether religious or secular, … [Read more...]

Catholic Teaching on Inter-Religious Dialogue

The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks clearly about the need for positive inter-religious encounters. It sees part of the mission of every Christian to include "a respectful dialogue with those who do not ... accept the Gospel. Believers can profit from this dialogue by learning to appreciate better 'those elements of truth and grace which are found among peoples [of other faiths], and which are, as it were, a secret presence of God'" (CCC, #856). Respectful dialogue and appreciative … [Read more...]

Why do Catholics become Protestant?

National Catholic Reporter has just posted a fascinating article looking at research by the Pew Research Center on why people leave the Catholic Church. This particular article focuses on those who leave Catholicism to enter a mainline Protestant or Evangelical Church. The research suggests that the common reasons believed by those who are ideologically liberal — or conservative — are not all that important. What is important? A sense of being spiritually nurtured. Read the article: The … [Read more...]

WSCA Interview Tonight

Tonight I'll be interviewed by Deidre Hebert on WSCA 106.1 FM in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for her "Pagan FM" program. Dee is doing a series on Paganism in conversation with other faiths, and I suspected I was selected to be the Catholic on the show because of my former sojourn in the Pagan community. So the conversation should be interesting: not only about why I am a Catholic, and how I see Catholicism in conversation/dialog with Neopaganism, but also perhaps looking at the dynamics of my own … [Read more...]

A Novice and His Master…

Readers of my blog may find this interesting: the story of Randy De Trinis, who explored monastic life at Gethsemani Abbey in the 1950s under the spiritual guidance of Thomas Merton. Although he did not stay at the monastery, his memoir reveals what an impact Merton had on his young life. In his own words: This is an article by Randy De Trinis originally published in The Merton Seasonal, a quarterly of The International Thomas Merton Society. It is a memoir of my life especially focused on … [Read more...]


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