Five Ideas that Shape Contemplative Prayer

I recently listened to the audiobook version of Chris Anderson's TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking. If your work in any way involves public speaking, I heartily encourage you to give it a listen. Chris is a humble and charming enough speaker in his own right, but fortified with tips and tricks, the do's and don't's, from the best speakers to give talks at TED Conferences over the years, the book provides an excellent survey of what really makes a speech effective.And one … [Read more...]

St. Teresa’s Advice for Dealing With People Who Cannot or Will Not Engage in Christian Contemplation

Some things never change.Here's a little quote from Teresa of Ávila's classic book about prayer, The Way of Perfection: Let us now return to speak of those souls I have mentioned who cannot practise recollection or tie down their minds to mental prayer or make a meditation. We must not talk to them of either of those two things— they will not hear of them; as a matter of fact, there are a great many people who seem terrified at the very name of contemplation or mental prayer. The next time … [Read more...]

Why I Still Recommend Verbum Software for Catholics… and for all Contemplatives

Two years ago this week, I wrote a glowing review of a Bible Software program called Verbum. Click here to read that review. Among other things, I said... I use Verbum every day. I repeat: every day. It’s not perfect, but it’s far and away the best Bible software I’ve ever come across. Twenty-four months later, and I'm still using this software every day.Not only do I consider Verbum an essential tool for my work as a Catholic writer, speaker, and catechist, but as a student of the contemp … [Read more...]

Know Who You Are: When God Gazes At You, Who Does God See?

In Delphi, in ancient Greece, at a famous pagan temple these words were carved above the entrance: γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Gnothi Seauton), which in English means "Know Yourself." It's a universal spiritual principle, not just something the Greeks thought up.For example, in 12-Step Programs, the first step to recovery involves admitting to yourself that addiction has made your life unmanageable. Without that self-knowledge, the rest of the program is a non-starter.In the Bible, St. Paul makes this … [Read more...]

Books for Beginning the Spiritual Journey

Here is a list of several books I recommend for spiritual seekers — especially those who are working with a spiritual director or companion.When I recently posted a list of books for spiritual directors, I suppose it only made sense that someone would send along this request:https://twitter.com/professorasher/status/765294144998834180Thank you, Seth. I'm assuming that this list of books for directees would be aimed at persons who are relatively new to intentional contemplative s … [Read more...]

The Mystical Body

How do we embody the contemplative life? And how does the contemplative life make a difference in our bodies (both as individuals and collectively)?Fran and I had dinner the other night with a charming couple named Ray and Lee. We had met Ray a few weeks earlier when I spoke at a UU Church here in Atlanta; like so many spiritual seekers of our time, Ray has been a wanderer, setting forth from his conservative Protestant upbringing to explore eastern spiritual paths such as Tibetan Buddhism … [Read more...]

Remembering the Three Dimensions of Prayer at Every Mass

Do you know why Catholics make three small crosses with their thumb — on their forehead, their lips, and their hearts — at every Mass when the Gospel reading is announced?Here is insight into this practice from the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults: At Mass when the reading of the Gospel begins, we place the sign of the Cross on our foreheads, lips, and hearts and pray, “May the Lord be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.” Lips, minds, and hearts—these symbolize three kin … [Read more...]