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...]

What is Contemplation?

What is contemplation? Unfortunately, answering this question is tricky — for contemplation is like some other words in the English language, such as love or success or happiness.  In other words, different people use it to mean different things.Recently a reader named Daniel sent me this message:I've been gradually learning about contemplative spirituality for a couple of years now.  Throughout this journey I've continually wondered how "contemplation" should be defined.  I've discovered t … [Read more...]

Charismatic Mysticism

"Do Gifts of the Spirit, especially those like tongues, have any connection with mysticism? Historically, theologically, experientially, in connection with the Divine... If so, in what way, and if not, why not?"A few months back, I asked folks on Facebook if they had any questions they would like me to address on my blog. Here is what a person named Anna wrote in reply:Well - this was a question I asked when I was on my silent retreat in a very small Christian ashram in South India last ye … [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...]