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...]

How Saint Benedict Can Help Us Grow Spiritually

How can the wisdom of the monastery help folks like you and me — who are not monks or nuns — to grow spiritually?To answer that question, we can begin by looking at The Rule of Saint Benedict.The Rule of Saint Benedict remains one of the great classics of western spirituality, even though it was written for a very small and specific audience: monks and nuns. What on the surface looks like an administrative manual for the smooth operation of a monastery is actually a text full of profound … [Read more...]

Contemplative Leadership with Saints Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola

In recent months I have become very interested in the topic of leadership.Which might seem silly, since I do not manage people, or lead a congregation, or hold a military command position. But I've come to recognize that "leadership" is a topic that has broad implications, broader than just our job descriptions. And for those of us who embrace contemplative spirituality, it's a topic that I think we need to be paying close attention to.In fact, let me make a couple of bold … [Read more...]

The Feast of St. Benedict: Ad Deificum Lumen

Today is the feast of St. Benedict.This morning at mass, Father Tom Francis (who works with me at the Abbey Store) preached on the Rule and on his life experience as a Trappist monk for over 50 years now. During the sermon, he mentioned a conversation that he and I and another Lay Cistercian had a while back about a phrase in the prologue to the Holy Rule of St. Benedict: et apertis oculis nostris ad deificum lumen, which is often translated as "Let us open our eyes to the light that … [Read more...]