Encountering Jesus through Questions in the Gospels

Saint Teresa of Ávila, one of the greatest of Christian mystics, understood clearly that the height of mystical spirituality, at least for Christians, must be grounded in the humble humanity of Jesus Christ. In chapter 22 of her Autobiography, she writes, I see clearly... that if we are to please God, and if He is to give us His great graces, everything must pass through the hands of His most Sacred Humanity, in whom His Majesty said that He is well pleased. I know this by repeated experience: o … [Read more...]

Instructions on Prayer from a Trappist Monk

"I'm speechless," remarked Brother Elias Marechal, OCSO, after a congregation of several hundred young evangelicals vigorously applauded his visit to their worship service last month. But then he quipped, "We don't talk in the monastery much."Grace Fellowship in Athens, GA (home of the University of Georgia) recently invited this deeply contemplative Trappist monk to come and speak to the congregation, comprised mostly of students. Grace's pastor, John Raymond, has for the past decade re … [Read more...]

The Place of Joy in Christian Spirituality

What is the relationship between prayer and joy? If we enjoy our prayer, does that mean we are avoiding the hard work of spirituality (which, at least in Christian terms, is meant to make us holy, not to entertain us)?I had an interesting little exchange on Facebook the other day, when a reader, who is a priest of the Church of England, took exception to the headline of my post from last year, called Five Ways You Can Enjoy a Deeper Personal Prayer Life.Reacting simply to that post's … [Read more...]

“We have been given the Holy Spirit”

Jesus returned to Nazareth, the town where he had been brought up. And on the Sabbath day, he went to the synagogue, as was his custom. On this particular day, he was appointed to read, and the passage for the day came from Isaiah — the same passage we heard, just a few minutes ago.Jesus unrolled the scroll, and found the place where the following words were written:The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed meto bring good news to the poor.He has sent me to proclaim r … [Read more...]

Seven Reasons to Pray the Divine Office

Everyone knows that monks devote their lives to silence, but also to daily prayer and chanting. Monastic prayer occurs at fixed-hours throughout the day. The rota of Psalms, canticles, scripture readings, antiphons and other prayers that incorporate this daily liturgy is known as the Divine Office (or the Daily Office, or the Liturgy of the Hours).Praying the Divine Office is central to monastic life, but even those of us who aren't monks may find that this type of prayer is an essential … [Read more...]

#1 on Amazon!

Okay, I know this is a "big fish in a small pond" moment. Indeed, it's a VERY small pond.But still!Over the last 24 hours, Befriending Silence (which will be published in four weeks) has been listed as Amazon's "#1 New Release in Christian Monasticism & Asceticism"!Woo hoo!My little book on Cistercian spirituality has topped several books by authors I admire (like Joan Chittister, Charles Cummings and William of St. Thierry) to land this coveted spot.Granted, I'm being a b … [Read more...]

Happy St. Hildegard’s Day!

One of the most colorful and remarkable of mystics, of any age, is the irrepressible twelfth century Abbess, Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Today (September 17) is her feast day.Hildegard was a Renaissance woman who lived several centuries before the Renaissance: not only was she a mystic and visionary, but she was also an accomplished musician, an artist (or, at least, an art director), a preacher, an herbalist, a prophet, and a respected leader in the church of her day. She lived at a … [Read more...]