Joyful Sanctity

What is the relationship between holiness and joy?A reader named Gordon writes, in response to my concerns about how "experience" can be misunderstood in a spiritual context:I agree with you that experience is not there for entertainment. But given my background in a very dreary fundamentalist religious upbringing, I always find the word "holy" very off-putting. It connotes too much the grey, dreary community of believers in the movie Babette's Feast that meet weekly for dreary worship. … [Read more...]

The Place of Joy in Christian Spirituality

What is the relationship between prayer and joy? If we enjoy our prayer, does that mean we are avoiding the hard work of spirituality (which, at least in Christian terms, is meant to make us holy, not to entertain us)?I had an interesting little exchange on Facebook the other day, when a reader, who is a priest of the Church of England, took exception to the headline of my post from last year, called Five Ways You Can Enjoy a Deeper Personal Prayer Life.Reacting simply to that post's … [Read more...]

Joyful Contemplation (No Fooling!)

If you are engaged in a serious and sustained practice of silent prayer and contemplative spirituality, then you need to be a very somber, sober, and serious person, for the mystical life is no laughing matter. . . . April Fool!I was inspired to write about this topic not only because today is April 1, but also because of what is arguably the single most problematic topic in the Rule of Saint Benedict — laughter. Consider these tidbits:Do not say foolish things or things that are intended t … [Read more...]