Into the Silent Land

Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation By Martin Laird Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006 Review by Carl McColmanHere is one of the loveliest, most poetic, and most useful books on the practice of mature Christian prayer that I have ever read.First of all, what this book is not. It is not a comprehensive guide to Christian spirituality, or even to Christian prayer. The author does not bother discussing the sacramental or liturgical life of the church, or … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

It makes sense to compare the work of contemplation to sleep. When we're asleep, the functions of our physical faculties are suspended so that our bodies can get complete rest. Sleep nourishes and strengthens our bodies in every way. The same is true of the spiritual "sleep" of contemplative prayer. The stubborn questions of our restless spirituality and all our creative and rational thoughts are firmly bound and totally emptied, so the happy soul can sleep soundly, resting profoundly in the … [Read more...]

Fast Food Mysticism?

Consider these two interesting quotes. This one comes from Simon, who commented on my essay The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism: One of the dangers of Centering Prayer, as I see it, is that contemplation is being served up as some sort of fast food. MacContemplation, so to speak! And this, from Ali at Meadowsweet & Myrrh, reflecting on the Northern Ireland retreat: What is the connection between silent contemplation and peace? Is there one? ... so far the lesson of this week … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The contemplative discipline of meditation, what I will call in this book contemplative practice, doesn't acquire anything. In that sense, and an important sense, it is not a technique but a surrendering of deeply imbedded resistances that allows the sacred within gradually to reveal itself as a simple, fundamental fact. Out of this letting go there emerges what St. Paul called our "hidden self": "may he give you the power through his Spirit for your hidden self to grow strong" (Eph 3:16). … [Read more...]

Where do I go?

A reader named Kathy writes: I have had so many mystical experiences in my life that I have few to share with... I’ve searched in the Christian churches for places to feel understood, where I can worship my love of Christ, and fellowship... but always feel alone. I am a mother and a wife, and am looking for fellowship with others who have a mystical orientation with Christianity.. where do I go? Where shall I find that sense of community? Any thoughts would be most appreciated. Alas, I wish I h … [Read more...]

Bhakti Jesus?

I know a monk who criticizes devotionalism. Rosaries, novenas, consecration to Mary, that sort of thing: he sees no use for it. He simply prefers methodless silent prayer. We have an ongoing conversation/debate about this. I keep saying that such devotionalism is a valid, cataphatic form of spiritual practice. He is willing to accept that but only if cataphatic spirituality is seen as a prelude to the "higher" apophatic form of practice.Incidentally, cataphatic (also spelled kataphatic) … [Read more...]

October 1 and 2: Christian Mysticism Weekend in Atlanta

We are putting together a "Christian Mysticism and Contemplative Spirituality Weekend Event" to take place Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2, 2010 at First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084. Here's what the schedule looks like:Friday, October 1, 7 - 9 PM: “What is Christian Mysticism, and Why Should I Care?” In John 16:12, Jesus says to his disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Perhaps Jesus was referring to th … [Read more...]