A Celtic Lenten Story

Once, St. Brigit and two of her sister nuns were travelling during Lent, and it so happened that they were offered hospitality by a pagan chieftain whose land they were passing through. They gathered at the chieftain's house, only to be surprised by a dinner including pork. The two sisters immediately protested, explaining that their Lenten fast prohibited them from eating any type of meat. At that, Brigit stood up, grabbed each of her sisters, and roughly threw them out of the house. She … [Read more...]

Advice for a Beginner

A reader posted these questions to my blog this morning: As a novice to Contemplative Prayer I guess I should take the introduction pace . Any suggestions ? Also, Carl, do you consider Henri Nouwen a mystic? I'll answer your second question first. I certainly have the sense of Henri Nouwen as a contemplative, based on what I know of him and his work. As you may have surmised if you've poked around this blog very much, though, I tend to be reticent about applying the word "mystic" to people … [Read more...]

Thich Nhat Hanh on Christian/Buddhist relations

My friend Martha just alerted me to this wonderful article by Thich Nhat Hanh. It looks like it's quite a few years old, since in it he talks about wanting to write Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, which was published in 2000. But its message remains important for us today: Going Back to Our Religious Roots In this article, the good Vietnamese monk tells the story of counseling a young Buddhist woman who had fallen in love with a Catholic man, and was distraught because his family was … [Read more...]

The Places that Scare You

The American Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön has written a book called The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. I haven't read it yet, although I like her work and so I hope to one of these days; but I'm mentioning it because the title alone is, for me, provocative. Sooner or later meditation or contemplation alone will take us to the places that scare us. Indeed, life will take us to the places that scare us. We lose a job, a relationship, a valued possession, our h … [Read more...]

More on the Fortress and the Beacon

Sometimes I'm a slow learner. My "fortress and beacon" analogy (see yesterday's post) emerged out an email correspondence I'm having with a Catholic laywoman who is feeling called to the contemplative life, but also feels the tension with mainstream Catholics who are afraid of, or hostile to, contemplative and centering prayer, because of their alleged new age or eastern mystical characteristics (as I've said repeatedly on this blog, I think such fears/hostility are groundless and based on … [Read more...]

Transcend for purity, and in hospitality include

Peter writes, in response to yesterday's post: I repeat here my appreciation of your purity-vs-hospitality perspective, and your inclusiveness of those who have not “yet” agreed with you and maybe never will. You are right that this is difficult and painful. But I want to add one more word of support: in taking a stance like this, you are strongly and consistently favoring oneness, non-dualism, in a pragmatic application. Way to go! I highly commend this. Thanks, Peter, for the insight. Yes, I se … [Read more...]


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