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February 29, 2016

As we at The Inner Room blog, spend some time with Henri Nouwen’s book Reaching Out, news just broke about the President Simon Newman of Mount Saint Mary’s University resigned in a controversy about Catholic University identity and the mission of Catholic Universities.  In this time, I think Nouwen’s words about community and hospitality are important for all involved in Catholic education to remember: “But is it possible to become hospitable to each other in a classroom?  it is far… Read more

February 23, 2016

In my prior Lenten post, I discussed Nouwen’s idea that the way to deal with loneliness is not to run from it or desperately try to drown it out, but rather to enter into it and let our desperation transform into a calm and positive solitude, a place in our hearts set apart and protected yet also open to entertaining strangers. In this post, I would like to delve a bit more into one aspect of this, the way that solitude… Read more

February 18, 2016

“But the solitude that really counts is the solitude of heart; it is an inner quality or attitude that does not depend on physical isolation.” — Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out In the book Reaching Out, Nouwen traces out three movements of the Christian spiritual life:  reaching out to the fullest sense of one’s self; reaching out to others; reaching out to God.  And in each of these movements he makes clear that there are different poles between which our lives… Read more

February 16, 2016

I have comorbid depression and obssessive compulsive disorder. I write this, not as a bid for particular sympathy – everyone has crosses – but to help give an idea of the loneliness that Henri Nouwen’s book, Reaching Out, can speak to. Of course – and very fortunately – most won’t know these experiences with such intensity as I. But I am convinced that the kind of things I experience with these issues is different from the experience of others in degree… Read more

February 9, 2016

  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:27b-40, NRSVCE While affirming that these words do in fact sum up the law and the prophets, there are those of us who can’t help wondering… Read more

February 5, 2016

  In the past few posts on old spiritual texts, we have moved from those instances and soundbytes that have become our favorite memes into the more uncharted and less spiritually titillating sea of textuality that sometimes bores us; we have also seen the ascetic benefits of bearing with patience such ascetic doldrums, trusting that we ought to be there because those we trust have been there, waiting for the reality that unfolds itself in the silence when no one… Read more

February 3, 2016

In the last post, I explored the way that, once we have moved beyond the glitter of favorite quotes and carefully selected passages in old spiritual texts, we can begin to feel lost in a sea of material not quite as inspiring or engaging as we wish it to be. The purpose of this post is to explain why this is not only all right and precisely what we might have expected, but in fact part of the benefit of reading old… Read more

February 1, 2016

Part of prayer is learning to pray with all other Christians – where two or three are gathered together – and so among other things this means learning to pray and contemplate alongside Christians from the past. One of the ways we do this is by engaging traditional texts on spirituality and mysticism. Yet, when it comes to this matter, engaging such texts and traditions is neither intuitive nor easy. Moving beyond the more popular quotations that have become memes,… Read more

January 27, 2016

As originally posted on Huffington Post: “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving.” Bell Hooks This time, after jumping in my car, no maps were necessary as I navigated my way towards New Mellerary Abbey for the 10th time since 2011. Maybe I had gone enough times to know my way, maybe something beyond myself was helping to guide me, or maybe there was nothing mystical to the experience other than the way I chose to view… Read more

January 26, 2016

The most perilous place for each of us is the desert within our own hearts; it is also the place of our salvation. For this desert, familiar to St. Anthony and so many other saints, verges on that same desert Christ visited after His baptism. It is haunted by devils, yes. But it is also where Christ wins victories. We do all we can to avoid this desert, this barren sandscape of pitiless and searing fear; we fear if we… Read more


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