Why Contemplation is Revolutionary (Part One)

In yesterday's post (The Archbishop and the Community Theologian) I quoted two renowned living contemplatives — emeritus Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and author/community theologian Kenneth Leech — both speaking of the communal and social implications of contemplative prayer.Naysayers, stand aside. Contemplative prayer is not about navel-gazing or self-absorbed "spiritual experiences." Indeed, anyone who explores contemplation only out of a desire for mystical experience or per … [Read more...]

Some New Books to Explore

If this were an ideal world and I had all the time in the universe to do everything I would like, I'd be reading all sorts of books — and writing lengthy reviews of many of them on this blog. But, alas, ours is not an ideal world, and so like everyone else I have to make do. And so, in that spirit of making do, here are a few brief comments about some interesting books that have come to my attention lately. Some of them are new and some have been around for a while, but I think they are all w … [Read more...]

Contemplation and the Daily Office

A reader writes: I am a deep devotee of praying the Daily Office through morning and night. How do you think praying the set Divine Office affects more Contemplative prayer, and vice versa? Wonderful question. I believe that, from an orthodox Christian perspective, the Daily Office (Liturgy of the Hours) has a relationship to silent prayer similar to how a setting relates to a jewel. A talented jeweler, by properly setting a diamond, will only enhance the beauty and brilliance of the … [Read more...]

Chants from the Benedictine Monks of Rostrevor

When I was in Northern Ireland, I stayed at a retreat center in Rostrevor, in County Down. Just four miles down the road is Holy Cross Monastery, which according to its website is the first new Benedictine monastery in Ireland since the twelfth century! It was established in 1998, and currently is home to six monks. I attended lauds there one morning, and mass on Sunday; nearly all the locals who spoke of the monastery mentioned that the monks sang beautifully, and indeed they were … [Read more...]

Dangerous Easter?

I once heard an Easter Sunday sermon at an Episcopal Church in which the priest detailed on what day Easter Sunday would fall every year for the forthcoming 25 years. Of course, this is easy to do: the current version of the Book of Common Prayer includes a table listing the date of Easter each year from 1900 to 2089! The point behind the sermon was that we have tamed Easter, made it safe and predictable, and so we rather mindlessly go through the motions of remembering the passion, death of … [Read more...]

Ash Wednesday in the Street

Sara Miles is one of the most amazing voices in the church today. Read about what she was up to on Ash Wednesday — breaking down the barriers between liturgy and "real" life. It's pretty inspiring...Ash Wednesday in the Street … [Read more...]

A few neat Anglican links…

Thanks to my friend Donnie for pointing me to these:The Byzantine Anglo-Catholic — a blog about "the interplay between Benedictine spirituality, high-church Anglicanism, and the hesychast tradition of Eastern Orthodoxy."Yes, Young People Do Like Traditional Liturgy by Luiz Coelho — an interesting essay by a young Latino Anglican on the importance of preserving liturgical tradition.Here's what Donnie had to say when he pointed me to these links: I have often felt that the most radical thi … [Read more...]