What is the relationship between Christian prayer and meditation?

A reader named Bill wrote to me recently and asked this question: How does a church pray as a group? Is there a place in the church for intercession and supplication? Should a congregation pray as a group? There is very little interest in prayer or teaching on prayer in the church I attend, although great interest in meditation and contemplation. This appears to be a contradiction in terms but sadly it is not. I’m just confused. Should not the Church be a “house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13)? Shou … [Read more...]

Mystery of the Missing Silence

To you, silence is praise, O God in Zion: and unto You shall the vow be fulfilled. ~ Psalm 65; Stone/Artscroll TranslationEveryone knows that nuances and shades of meaning get lost in translation. This is why Muslims insist on praying and reading the Quran in Arabic, and why up until about forty years ago, the Catholic mass was always prayed in Latin. Even the most artful and scholarly of translators will face countless challenges when attempting to render idioms, metaphors, puns, and words … [Read more...]

Is it possible to “fail” at contemplative prayer?

Anyone who has ever trained with weights knows that form is important. If you lift heavy weights without proper form, you run the risk of a significant injury.The other day I was working with a trainer, and we were doing a fairly basic shoulder press, and he noted that my back was bowing. He mentioned it to me, and I immediately began to overcompensate. He pointed that out to me, and I said "I'm worried about my form.""Your form is going to fail," he remarked. In other words, as I … [Read more...]

Why Silence Matters (Video)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgW0vuQnnYoSilence is the heart of the spiritual life, and especially of the Christian contemplative life. Fostering inner silence is a key to entering into the prayer of generous self-giving to the often-hidden but always present reality of the God who is here.Elsewhere I have written about how sacred scripture commends silence to us. In the video above I mention the words of noted spiritual author Thomas Keating, who in his book Invitation to Love said … [Read more...]

Seven Important Bible Verses About Silence

Catholics (and other Christians) can be a noisy bunch. I'm always a bit surprised when I visit a church just before Mass and it's filled with chatter. Maybe I'm showing my age here, but I recall as a boy that visiting a church was like visiting a library — it was a place reserved for the utmost silence.Of course, to be fair, nowadays many libraries seem to be pretty chatty places as well.Contemplatives intuitively recognize that silence is the lingua franca of the spiritual life. Silence … [Read more...]

Andrew Garfield and Stephen Colbert talk about Silence, Jesuits and Humility…

Are you as eager to see Martin Scorsese's film adaptation of Shusako Endo's Silence as I am? Not sure when I'll get to see it, but hopefully soon!In the meantime, check out this fascinating interview that aired on "the Late Show" the other night, Stephen Colbert interviewing Andrew Garfield about the movie. They talk about Jesuit spirituality, the Ignatian exercises, the relationship between silence and spirituality, the Jesuit charism of "finding God in all things," and even the importance … [Read more...]

“Constantly Seek His Face”

Today’s Mass Readings (Hebrews 2:14–18, Psalm 105:1–9, and Mark 1:29–39) offer an interesting insight into the role of prayer in the life of faith.The Gospel reading, from the first chapter of Mark, gives us several stories of healing and exorcism in rapid succession. But there is a sentence right in the middle of the reading, that is very humble and unassuming, but I think it is so important for us to reflect on. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where … [Read more...]