Do You Need a Spiritual Teacher?

St. Joseph's Abbey in Massachusetts. Monasteries are often excellent places to find guidance in Christian contemplation.

A reader of my blog wrote the following message to me: I have been meditating for about a year now. I have been working with a meditation teacher who has been helpful, but, even though we are of the same Christian faith, he leans too far into the Yogi tradition for my comfort level. My experience with Centering Prayer has been very positive and what I have read and heard about the Christian Contemplative Path resonates with me. To really deepen my practice, do I need a spiritual teacher? If so, … [Read more...]

Concerning Contemplative Prayer and Spiritual Xenophobia

Contemplative spirituality is a spirituality in which, in the words of Richard Rohr, "everything belongs." It's a spirituality of inclusion, rather than exclusion. It seeks to build bridges rather than walls. To me, this is part of the towering beauty of contemplation. But we live in a world where not everyone sees things the same way, and contemplation, like anything else, has its critics. Generally speaking, my experience shows that the critics of Christian contemplation reject it for two … [Read more...]

Sometimes When I Sit in Silence…

Chateau d'Amboise

Contemplative prayer — the prayer of sitting in silence, waiting in faith and trust on God — needs to be a daily practice. There are a number of reasons for this, but today I'd like to look at something I experience in my own prayer. I have to eat a little bit of humble pie to write this, because I'm admitting how poor I am at praying. But the truth is the truth. I need to pray in silence every day because, well, most days my silent prayer is not all that silent. Futhermore (and this is actually … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Conclusion)

receive

This is the final part of a series on “Why Contemplation is Revolutionary.” If you want to start at the beginning, follow this link: The Archbishop and the Community Theologian.We've made our way through the quotations from Archbishop Rowan Williams and community theologian Kenneth Leech. We've looked at contemplation as a means for transformation. In the silence of "being still and knowing God," contemplation hones our awareness of the chaos within us (which fosters humility), but also of th … [Read more...]

Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part One)

In yesterday's post (The Archbishop and the Community Theologian) I quoted two renowned living contemplatives — emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and author/community theologian Kenneth Leech — both speaking of the communal and social implications of contemplative prayer.Naysayers, stand aside. Contemplative prayer is not about navel-gazing or self-absorbed "spiritual experiences." Indeed, anyone who explores contemplation only out of a desire for mystical experience or per … [Read more...]

The Archbishop and the Community Theologian

I've posted both of the following quotes in this blog before, but they are such wonderful quotes that I find myself going back to them again and again. Last night I taught a class on contemplative spirituality at an Episcopal Church in Gainesville, GA, and I used the first of these two quotes. It's from the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, on the occasion of his addressing the Catholic Synod of Bishops in Rome: the first time an Anglican Archbishop ever gave such an address. The … [Read more...]

Contemplative Prayer in Decatur

Wow. I feel so privileged to have been part of the first contemplative gathering at First Christian Church of Decatur, Georgia.It was a very simple thing, actually. There were over 20 of us (I counted 21, but someone else said 22, maybe I forgot to count myself) gathered together in one of the education rooms at the church. We sat in a circle and after introducing ourselves, we shared a communal exercise based on the ancient monastic practice of lectio divina (sacred reading). … [Read more...]


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