Quote for the Day

The elder opened the Philokalia, searched for an instruction of Saint Symeon the New Theologian and began: "Sit in silence and alone. Bend your head. Close your eyes. Breathe ever more quietly. With the imagination look inside your heart. Carry your intellect, that is your thought, out of your head and into your heart. As you breathe say quietly with your lips or in your intellect alone: 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.' ... Try to drive away your thoughts. Keep restful patience … [Read more...]

Quote for the Day

You might stare for hours at a sunset, and suddenly disappear into the World Soul, and feel yourself at one with all nature. This is well and good. But nature is not the source of this intuition. Worms and rats and foxes and weasels do not stare for hours at the sunset, and marvel at its beauty, and transcend themselves in that release — even though their senses are in many cases much sharper than ours, even though they see nature more clearly than we! No, nature is not the source of this B … [Read more...]

Taken Up

Today is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What I find interesting about this idea of the assumption is its implications for those of us living here on the earth today.Morning prayer today includes this Responsory: "Today the Virgin Mary was taken up to heaven." Now, if we can agree that heaven is all about being in the presence of God, and if we can also agree that God is omnipresent, then it seems obvious that we can be "taken up to heaven" right here and right now. No … [Read more...]

Inside the Shell

Mark Doty has written a wonderful poem called "A Green Crab's Shell." You can read it here. It's about finding a crab shell and wondering at the beautiful shock of "Giotto blue" found within it — the color of the sky, carried by the crab all life long and yet invisible to all (except God). It took the crab's death, probably at the beak of some hungry seagull, to reveal this lovely, hidden color. Doty goes on to muse about what kinds of treasures you and I carry, hidden within our skin, that only … [Read more...]

Four questions about Mysticism

A reader named Matt wrote the following questions to me, quite some time ago (sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you, Matt!):The Reformed, and Protestant traditions have been quite suspicious of some of the practices of "Mysticism", why is that, and what would be a response to Protestant concerns? What is the theology behind Christian Mysticism? Does Christian Mysticism have Biblical Support? How does one go about practicing the more Mystical aspects of the Christian faith?Any … [Read more...]

A Chat with a Methodist Minister

The other day at the Abbey Store I struck up a conversation with a Methodist minister who was making a short retreat at the Monastery. We chatted up books and authors and it became apparent that we had a similar interest in contemplative spirituality."So tell me," I asked him, "What is it like to advocate for contemplative spirituality in your congregation?"He smiled ruefully. "It's not easy," he said."Are people afraid of it?" I wondered, mindful of the small but vocal presence of … [Read more...]

Something I wrote for Amazon.com

Amazon.com offers authors the chance to write something personal about their book(s) to appear on Amazon's website. This morning I finally wrote such a statement for The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. I thought I may as well post it here, so readers of this blog could enjoy it as well. The following text should be published within the next few days on The Big Book of Christian Mysticism's page under the heading "From the Author." When I was eighteen years old, a friend of mine loaned me a copy … [Read more...]