Seven Tips for Returning to Church (After Being Away for Awhile)

Have you been away from parish life for a while, but now feel like returning?  You're not alone.Every now and then I hear from someone who, because they are interested in mysticism or contemplation, decide to participate in their neighborhood parish or congregation. Problem is, they left church many years ago (perhaps as a teenager or young adult) and now, deeply interested in the spiritual life, they recognize that they need a communal expression of faith but they simply find returning to ch … [Read more...]

Why do Mystics Love the Church?

For a long time now, I've been fascinated by people who self-define as "spiritual but not religious" (or "spiritually independent," or "none" or some variation thereof) — in other words, people who see the Church or "institutional religion" as overly legalistic, spiritually stifling, hidebound, more concerned with enforcing morality than seeking enlightenment. I don't speak out of judgment, for at times in my life, I've been there myself.Part of what fascinates me is how many SBNR folks, de … [Read more...]

Do Contemplatives Need the Church?

A post on this blog received the following comment yesterday:Having been with the Catholic Church and seminary trained for all my 71 years of life . I am naturally contemplative . But I do now believe practising formal meditation/contemplation is false . Aren’t we missing the point if we try and set time aside for contemplation?Surely if we are made in Gods image we are already suffused with Gods holy grace and we are divinised, so if we are living in Christ what’s the point in pretending to … [Read more...]

How to Find a Contemplative-Friendly Church

Spirituality is all about love, and love only exists in relationship. Therefore, spirituality is healthiest when it is expressed in a communal way. For better or worse, this means — at least for followers of Jesus Christ and the Christian contemplative/mystical path — finding some sort of church or other faith community.That's not always easy. Frankly, many churches are indifferent, or even hostile, to Christian contemplation and mysticism. Many Protestant and Evangelical Christians reject my … [Read more...]

Nine Ways to Foster a Contemplative Church

If you are the pastor of a church or parish, this post is for you. If you are not the pastor but are a member of a congregation, consider sharing this post with your pastor, especially if he or she is interested in silent prayer.Karl Rahner, the renowned 20th century Jesuit theologian, once wrote "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist." I interpret this to mean that Christians need more than just moral guidance and instruction in the proper way to think about God, … [Read more...]

Seven Hopes for the Christian (and Church) of the Future

In his 1981 book Concern for the Church, Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner made his famous prediction, "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all."A third of a century later, has Rahner's prediction come to pass? The "not exist at all" part seems ominously real, as more and more congregations face declining membership, a shortage of priests, nuns, monks and volunteers, and difficulty raising enough money to pay for clergy salaries or building maintenance. But I t … [Read more...]