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...]

Is There a “Contemplative” Personality Type?

I once heard Richard Rohr tell a charming story of giving a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where Thomas Merton lived. Rohr was surprised to find that not all the monks particularly cared for Merton. When he asked about this, one of the brothers said, "Merton told us we weren't contemplatives, we were just introverts!"It's a sweet story and the audience chuckled when we heard it, but it does point to an interesting question: what connection is there between personality type and prayer ty … [Read more...]

Five Essential Dimensions of Christian Prayer

I talk a lot about silent prayer in this blog, which is understandable considering that my focus is on contemplative prayer, which the Catholic Catechism describes as "wordless prayer." As important as silence is to contemplative and mystical forms of prayer, it's only one of five essential dimensions of Christian prayer. In this post I look at all of these dimensions of prayer: what they are, why they matter, and how to cultivate all the essential ways of praying in your daily spiritual pra … [Read more...]

Seven Blessings of Silent Prayer

Silent prayer — contemplative prayer, what the Catholic Catechism calls "wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God's greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration" — is an important element of a mature Christian spirituality. The Bible instructs us to "be still and know... God" (Psalm 46:10), and even promises us that "silence is praise" (Psalm 65:1, translated literally).I thought it might be helpful to reflect on the many ways that contemplation brings blessing into our l … [Read more...]

“The Process of Being in Relationship with God”

Okay: to summarize...Spirituality: the process of being in relationship with God.Belief and Wonder: the mental and emotional qualities of being open to the possibility of Divine presence in our lives.Culture, Ikons, Teachings/Tradition/Scripture: the stuff in our lives that carry the news of God to us; the evidence we have of God's presence and the clues we have to help us recognize God's presence in our own experience...Community: the people who are our spiritual family, who … [Read more...]

Is Contemplation Dangerous?

Is contemplation dangerous? Some people think so.This past weekend I read a book that has given me some food for thought on this subject. The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? is by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, two psychologists in England who study the idea that practices like yoga or mindfulness meditation have observable health benefits. They became involved in a study of prisoners practicing yoga — could it help them to be more at peace, or even less aggressive?As they s … [Read more...]