St. Benedict and the Prosperity Gospel

This past Tuesday night my wife and I went with some 19,000 other folks to hear Hillsong United, the Australia praise band famous for their song "Oceans," which is the closest thing I've ever heard to an actual contemplative piece of contemporary Christian music. It was quite the extravaganza: over two hours of praise music, the songs punctuated by earnest mini-sermons from the various band members on the necessity of forming or reaffirming an intimate relationship with Jesus, who loves us and wa … [Read more...]

“That God’s Love Might Live in Us” — A Few Lovely Words from Thomas Merton

I've been re-reading Thomas Merton's The Waters of Siloe for a class I'm teaching at the monastery. It's basically Merton's history of the Cistercian order, but it's also full of his insights into Cistercian spirituality (and monastic spirituality in general). I especially love the book because it devotes several pages to the founding of the monastery in Georgia, including a wonderful photograph of the monks sitting in front of the old barn where they lived when they first came to the … [Read more...]

Contemplative Commerce

The motto of Benedictine spirituality is ora et labora — a deceptively simple Latin phrase that means "to pray and to work." A variation of it, ora est labora, means "to pray is to work" — a sentiment handily embodied in the Latin words, where ora is actually part of labora. Prayer and work: the heart of Benedictine spirituality, and by extension, the heart of all spiritual traditions based on the Rule of St. Benedict, including the Trappist/Cistercian tradition.Plenty of books can be found o … [Read more...]