December 14, 2020

A reader recently wrote to me: Dear Carl, I grew up as a Protestant, but as I’ve journeyed into Contemplative Christianity over the last while I’ve become more amenable to Roman Catholicism. I have been wondering about lay orders and how to connect with the contemplative tradition through a lay order. I was wondering if you could shed some light on which lay orders there are (main ones) and what the main focus is in each one, and specifically which one,... Read more

November 28, 2020

Recently I received this message from a new reader of this blog… Hi Carl, I found your site yesterday. I am a beginner and the Lord has been telling me to practice simple inner awareness of love. Is this what you’re doing? I find it very difficult and I’m not sure I’m doing it right. I’m super frustrated. I’m not sure of what or how I’m to be aware. Am I supposed to just notice feelings, and or sensations in... Read more

November 24, 2020

 Contemplative spirituality has its own jargon, and this “language of prayer” evolves over time. Nowadays you’ll find students of the mystical path speaking about meditation, nonduality, mindfulness and heightened consciousness, whereas a century ago you’d be more likely to encounter terminology like mental prayer, unitive life, recollection and rapture. Sometimes words themselves evolve in how they are used: when Evelyn Underhill spoke about the prayer of rapture, she was not talking about the idea of mass ascension taking place... Read more

November 20, 2020

Here is the third episode of my “Schola Mystica” podcast. The transcript of the episode appears below. Mysticism is a notoriously difficult word to define — which means it is a tricky concept to understand.  The word gets used in slightly — or significantly — different ways, in different contexts. If we speak of Christian mysticism, or Eastern mysticism, or Neo-Platonic mysticism, we are speaking of three contrasting approaches to, and understandings of, mystical spirituality — and therefore, three distinct... Read more

November 17, 2020

A question that sometimes comes up when people are first learning a practice like Centering Prayer is, “How do I sit?” In other words, what is the best posture for a prayer practice like this? We’ve all seen images of yogis and Buddhist monks sitting for incredibly long periods of time in the lotus position, cross-legged on the floor or on a small cushion, each bare foot tidily resting on the opposite thigh. It looks so effortless, and yet for... Read more

November 13, 2020

“Is mysticism in the Bible?” It’s a question I get asked from time to time. And while the word mysticism itself is not found in scripture, the elements of mysticism are very much part of the Biblical story. In the first of what I imagine will be multiple videos on this topic, I begin to explore mysticism in the Bible by focusing on three verses that speak of silence — in a clearly contemplative way. Enjoy reading this blog? Click here to become... Read more

October 31, 2020

Okay, friends, I know we haven’t even made it to All Saint’s yet, but Christmas is less than two months away. If you’re new to my blog, I write about Christian spirituality and contemplation. And I’m a bit of an evangelist about it — I want more people to learn about Christian spirituality (whether or not they go to church or even identify as “Christian”). I’m not trying to convert people, but I am convinced that contemplative and mystical spirituality offers a... Read more

October 26, 2020

This weekend I conducted a retreat on Franciscan spirituality for the Rock Hill Oratory Center for Spirituality in South Carolina. Franciscan spirituality is such a delight, so of course I enjoyed both designing and leading this retreat. I promised the retreatants that I would provide a list of recommended books on the subject of Franciscan spirituality. Once I drew up the list, I figured it was worth posting here — so here it is. Enjoy! Ian Morgan Cron, Chasing Francis: A... Read more

October 19, 2020

What do mystics do? The following list can be a way to begin answering this question. I’m not suggesting that every mystic does everything on this list (for starters, this list is particularly aimed at Christian mystics), or that a person has to do all of these things to be considered a mystic. I’m trying to make the list general, so that it’s not just about persons who live in a cloister (monks and nuns) or who have ordained ministries... Read more

September 9, 2020

St. Augustine said that the human heart is restless until it rests in God. I certainly have a restless heart, and I suspect most people do. But what if the restlessness in our hearts is actually a gift — that helps us to live life fully, grounded in love, compassion and purpose? This is the starting point for my next book, Eternal Heart: The Mystical Path to a Joyful Life, which will published next June by Broadleaf Books. Eternal Heart weaves... Read more

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