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...]

Simplicity and Silence

This message came to me the other day.Hi Carl. Love reading your blogs. From one who is a struggling contemplative can you tell me what form of contemplative prayer you do and why? Also can one do more than one form of contemplative prayer? ie, will one complement the other?Two questions here. First, what does my own daily practice look like? And secondly, what do I think about using more than one method of contemplative practice?First, about what I do. I'm assuming you simply want to … [Read more...]

Contemplation and the Daily Office

A reader writes: I am a deep devotee of praying the Daily Office through morning and night. How do you think praying the set Divine Office affects more Contemplative prayer, and vice versa? Wonderful question. I believe that, from an orthodox Christian perspective, the Daily Office (Liturgy of the Hours) has a relationship to silent prayer similar to how a setting relates to a jewel. A talented jeweler, by properly setting a diamond, will only enhance the beauty and brilliance of the … [Read more...]

Fast Food Mysticism?

Consider these two interesting quotes. This one comes from Simon, who commented on my essay The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism: One of the dangers of Centering Prayer, as I see it, is that contemplation is being served up as some sort of fast food. MacContemplation, so to speak! And this, from Ali at Meadowsweet & Myrrh, reflecting on the Northern Ireland retreat: What is the connection between silent contemplation and peace? Is there one? ... so far the lesson of this week … [Read more...]

Centering Prayer, Narcissism and Relativism

In a comment to my Bhakti Jesus post yesterday, a reader writes: I do have one question Carl, if you don’t mind? What did you mean by: "One of my teachers insists that practitioners of centering prayer need to be immersed in the Daily Office as a safeguard against narcissism or relativism. I think he’s right." Being relatively new to centering prayer and meditation practices, I’m not sure I understand how either could lead to narcissism or relativism. Would you please say more about that? … [Read more...]

Bhakti Jesus?

I know a monk who criticizes devotionalism. Rosaries, novenas, consecration to Mary, that sort of thing: he sees no use for it. He simply prefers methodless silent prayer. We have an ongoing conversation/debate about this. I keep saying that such devotionalism is a valid, cataphatic form of spiritual practice. He is willing to accept that but only if cataphatic spirituality is seen as a prelude to the "higher" apophatic form of practice.Incidentally, cataphatic (also spelled kataphatic) … [Read more...]

Contemplation, the Demonic, the Shadow, and Original Sin

Consider these two quotations, found after only the briefest of Google searches. The quotes are verbatim, but the emphasis has been added: And I know that Scientology, Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, and even some strands of “Christianity” offer techniques for you to control your mind: auditing, “mind exercises”, contemplative prayer, meditation, chanting, yoga, etc. What you are actually doing with these is giving full control over your mind to evil spirits that allow you to THINK that you are in c … [Read more...]


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