After the Goose, a Rough Week, and Simplicity

Dear friends, my apologies for taking such a long time between posts. As you may know, I was at the Wild Goose East Festival June 21-24. Indeed, Jana Riess (author of the delightful book Flunking Sainthood) wrote a very kind piece on her blog about the talk I gave on Sunday morning at the Wild Goose Festival. You can read it by following this link: Five Gifts of Contemplative Prayer.One of the reasons I didn't write anything after returning to Georgia (aside from being rather exhausted for a … [Read more...]

Images from my Lay Cistercian Life Promises Ceremony

On May 6, 2012, I made my Lifetime Promises as a Lay Cistercian of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, affiliated with the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. It's been quite a journey, the culmination of a five year formation process (and several months of discernment prior to that). Here are a few photographs taken on that happy day. If you want to learn more about Lay Cistercian spirituality, click here.  … [Read more...]

Cistercian Spirituality, Anyone?

My latest installment of the Let the Earth Keep Silence column is now live at Patheos: it's called Cistercian Spirituality 101.As always, I hope you'll click on the link and take a look. And if you find it interesting, or would like to see more columns devoted to Cistercian spirituality, please say so (i.e., leave a comment, either here or there). I'm thinking it might be fun to write a series of columns on the Cistercian Charisms — but only if enough folks seem to be interested in the t … [Read more...]

Contemplation and the Lay Cistercian Life

My latest column is now online at Patheos. It's called Beholding the One Who Beholds Us and, as always, you can access it by following the link.It's my most personal column to date. In it I talk about my recent profession of life promises as a Lay Cistercian, and explain how that is related to my sense of being called to a contemplative life — even though, technically speaking, I live a "mixed" life since I aspire to contemplation without formally entering monastic life.Please take a m … [Read more...]

Spirit and Standards

Certainly, Christians in the world cannot live precisely as monks. They can however live in accordance with the spirit and standards of monastic life. This will aid them greatly in preserving their own inner unity and balance while living in a troubled and anxious world.— Archimandrite George Capsanis, The Eros of Repentance:Four Talks on Athonite MonasticismHere is one of the most concise statements of the rationale behind Lay Cistercian spirituality, coming from an Eastern Orthodox monk o … [Read more...]

Simplicity and Prayer

In the simple promises for the junior lay associates (Lay Cistercians) of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, we promise, among other things, to live "life in simplicity and prayer." I love that juxtaposition. Prayer and simplicity go together so beautifully, it seems to me, that one of the best ways to cultivate in our hearts the space for prayer is by allowing things to be simple. I don't mean simple in the sense of not very smart, but simple in the sense of what Taoists call wu-wei, or "going … [Read more...]

Humility and Love

I had a chat with my friend Paco yesterday. Paco is a Lay Cistercian and shares my love of the contemplative life. He was my "angel" (my mentor/ "big brother") during my novitiate as a Lay Cistercian, so we've become pretty good friends. I asked Paco to read the unedited manuscript of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism and he stopped by my office yesterday to tell me he had finished it. His main criticism of the book is that he felt I did not stress humility enough. "You mention it," he said, … [Read more...]


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