Concerning the Heart and the Skeleton of the Body of Christ

Following last week's post Bhakti Jesus, I've been pondering the relationship between devotionalism and contemplation. In Centering Prayer, Narcissism and Relativism I considered the dangers of a contemplative practice cut off from a devotional framework. For example, engaging in a centering prayer practice without relying on discursive practices like the Daily Office, or even lectio divina, places the seeker at risk of getting lost in a kind of spiritual funhouse where one's own "experiences" … [Read more...]

Finding the True Path

A reader of my blog has emailed me the following questions. They seem to involve the question of how to embrace the Christian mystery when one cannot be sure if it is the "true" path or not. As a former neo-pagan, didn't you find getting to grips with Christianity's necessity to hold a set number of essential beliefs? Don't you have any doubts and don't you find them restricting? I was wondering if you knew much about Islamic mysticism - sufism - and if you had ever written something about it … [Read more...]

Christmas Every Day, Easter Every Day

When I was a teenager I used to attend the Fisherman's House charismatic prayer and praise meeting in Hampton, VA. This was a non-denominational, neo-pentecostal Christian youth group, evangelical in its theology. On the meeting just before Christmas, the leader of the group commented that "we don't particularly observe Christmas, because any day can be the day when Christ is born in someone's heart."That observation has always stuck with me. And even though I love the liturgical year and am … [Read more...]

Félix Caeli Porta

Yes, the concert last night by the Atlanta Schola Cantorum was gorgeous. And among other things, it ramped up my interest in the early medieval hymn, Ave Maris Stella. I spent a little bit of time last night and this morning looking at various translations of it, trying to find one that would work as a devotional prayer (one of my Lay Cistercian promises is to cultivate a devotion to Mary, and it seems that praying the Ave Maris Stella would be a worthy means to that end). But I couldn't find … [Read more...]

Simple Promises and the Star of the Sea

God willing, this Sunday May 3, I make my first simple promises as a Lay-Cistercian of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. This comes at the culmination of two years in the Lay-Cistercian novitiate. These promises are basically for one year, and I will renew them again at least twice before making my lifetime promises.While generally the big celebrating takes place with the life profession, I must confess to a measure of excitement even as I approach my simple promises. Becoming a novice two … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

The Holy Ghost never urges a thing against charity, and if he did, he would be contrary to his own self, for he is all charity. — Julian of Norwich, providing spiritual direction to Margery Kempe, as recounted in The Book of Margery Kempe … [Read more...]

Celtic Devotions

Celtic Devotions: A Guide to Morning and Evening Prayer By Calvin Miller Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2008 Review by Carl McColmanFirst, a confession: I don't really like daily devotional books, least of all when they're arranged in a structured "say this prayer on the morning of day 5" and "say this prayer on the evening of day 13" kind of a format. I try not to be a liturgical chauvinist most of the time, but I must admit that books designed to get you to in the habit of praying every day … [Read more...]