When Prayer becomes Mortification

I first started praying the Liturgy of the Hours in the mid-winter of 2008, a few months after my reversion to Catholicism. At that time it was all exciting and new, and I looked forward to my prayer times every day; but that's not why I adopted the Liturgy of the Hours as a personal devotion. And then, when I became a Lay Dominican, I necessarily embarked on a life of diligent prayer. Per the rule, I am to pray a significant fraction of the Liturgy of the Hours, a daily rosary, daily mass … [Read more...]

Persevering in Prayer

One of the hardest things to do in the interior life is to persevere: to keep going, to keep praying every day, especially when, for some reason, we miss a day.  It's only natural.  If you're learning to play an instrument, and you don't practice, you don't want to face your instructor; and if you continue not to practice, you'll soon not be taking lessons.But the fact is, you're sometimes going to miss a day.  Sometimes you'll just not feel like it, and you'll go with that; other times yo … [Read more...]

Dryness: When God Seems Far Away

The interior life is just like anything else that you begin with excitement and enthusiasm: the excitement and enthusiasm wear off, and you end up with dryness. You don't want to sit down and pray; when you do, it seems meaningless and pointless and boring and no fun. That's the bad news. The good news is that the dryness will come and go.There are two reasons for this, one human and one divine.The human reason is what Uncle Screwtape called "the law of undulation". In any human … [Read more...]

Adore: Live in the Presence

Several months ago, I discovered that the Catholic church around the corner from where I work has a presence chapel that's always open during the work day. This is unusual in my area; most of the churches in my area are locked unless there's a Mass or other service in progress. The chapel has one of those tabernacles with a little door on the front, so that the Blessed Sacrament can easily be exposed for Eucharistic Adoration.Since then I've gotten in the habit of stopping by there on my … [Read more...]

Body: The Outward Affects The Inward

It's tempting to think of the interior life as something that takes place entirely within your mind and heart, but as I pointed out a few weeks ago, it 'tain't so. We are not souls who happen to be stuck in bodies for a while; we are human beings, a composite of body and soul, and whatever we do, we do with our whole beings. There's always been a tendency within Christianity to forget this, and act as though the soul is really what we are; this is called angelism, and it's simply a mistake. … [Read more...]

Listen: Hearing God’s Voice

Usually in this series I've talked about things that have worked for me; today I'm going to talk about something that I wish worked better for me.My spiritual director told me of a man—I think he was a Benedictine, but I really don't remember—who spent an hour with God every morning. Sometimes he talked to God for five minutes, and listened to God for fifty-five minutes; other days he talked for fifty-five minutes and listened for five. It depended on how much he had to say. But that last … [Read more...]

Practice: Living the Interior Life From Day To Day

Reading about the interior life is not the same as living it. (Neither is writing about it.) ’nuff said. … [Read more...]

Divine Office, Part III: Fruit for Meditation

The Rosary is not just a prayer, it's a meditation on the life of Christ. Similarly, the Liturgy of the Hours is not just a set of prayers; it is also fruit for meditation.First, (as I seem to keep saying) the Divine Office is based around the Psalms. I hadn't really gotten to know the Psalms all that well before I started praying the Office; they are poetry (which is usually not to my taste) (which is a sad commentary on my taste), and poetry needs to be lived with. The Psalms speak of … [Read more...]


I'm going to step away from the Divine Office for a moment, and talk about something else.The interior life is a life of learning to love and be loved by God. After all, we are supposed to love Him with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. This makes the interior life sound kind of selfish: like it's all me and God, and other people can go hang. Nothing could be further from the truth: in order to grow in the love of God, you have to grow in the love of those around you. More … [Read more...]