A Contemplative Curriculum?

I've written in this blog several times recently about what a contemplative practice group might look like, and hopefully I'll be involved in setting up at least one such group in the near future. But in a conversation with a clergy friend last night, he asked me what it would look like to have a fully-formed curriculum of classes, workshops, retreats, etc., all designed to support individuals and communities in the quest to grow toward deeper intimacy and union with Christ?Wow. What a sweet … [Read more...]

Intercessory Contemplation

This thought came to me yesterday. We Christians understand spirituality and mysticism in communal ways: we are knit into the Body of Christ, our mandate is to love one another, we are to "be Christ" for each other, and so forth. For this reason, intercessory prayer — praying on behalf of others — is an important part of Christian spirituality. Indeed, in Catholicism it is customary to make offerings to the church to have masses said for the intentions of those we love.Meditation and con … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The important thing in contemplation is not enjoyment, not pleasure, not happiness, not peace, but the transcendent experience of reality and truth in the act of a supreme and liberated spiritual love. The important thing in contemplation is not gratification and rest, but awareness, life, creativity, and freedom. — Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience … [Read more...]

Four Dimensions of Christian Spirituality for Our Time

About a month ago I wrote this: I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how my spiritual identity is shaped by the contemplative tradition (as exemplified by the Lay-Cistercian community where I am in formation), my Celtic heritage (of which I have written several books and which continues to inform much of my self-understanding as a Christian), my love for mysticism (primarily Christian mysticism, but extending into all the wisdom streams of the world) and the emergent conversation ( … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

Broadly speaking, then, we can say that there are three kinds of contemplation: one is philosophical and its peak-point is a metaphysical experience of being; the second has for its object Christian dogmas the inner meaning of which it savors with the light of faith; the third is a high form of union with God, conferred gratuitously upon His intimate friends. A consideration of these three kinds of contemplation helps us to understand the traditional relationship between reason, dogma, and … [Read more...]

The Naked Now

The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See By Richard Rohr New York: Crossroad, 2009 Review by Carl McColmanMany of the finest studies of Christian mysticism are just that: studies. While authors as renowned as William Ralph Inge, Cuthbert Butler, Evelyn Underhill, Louis Bouyer, John Macquarrie, Bernard McGinn and Robert Davis Hughes have made splendid contributions to our knowledge and understanding of contemplative and mystical spirituality, their erudite and scholarly works are, … [Read more...]

Advice for a Beginner

A reader posted these questions to my blog this morning: As a novice to Contemplative Prayer I guess I should take the introduction pace . Any suggestions ? Also, Carl, do you consider Henri Nouwen a mystic? I'll answer your second question first. I certainly have the sense of Henri Nouwen as a contemplative, based on what I know of him and his work. As you may have surmised if you've poked around this blog very much, though, I tend to be reticent about applying the word "mystic" to people … [Read more...]


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