The third of six videos filmed at a talk I gave last August. Here I look at contemplation, reflecting on the traditional understanding of this prayer (“a form of wordless prayer… with faith and love”) and how the elements of love, silence, and gazing into the mystery of Christ can be such a nurturing form of prayer for spiritual seekers  today.


Finding the Treasure: Letters from a Global Monk (Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2011)

A charming and humble autobiography of a twentieth-century Trappist monk, told in the form of letters written to a friend. Roberts, the son of an Anglican bishop, recounts his youth in the far east, conversion to Catholicism and eventual entry into Trappist life, leading ultimately to Rome where for years he served as an assistant to the Abbot General (the leader of Trappists worldwide). As he tells his story, Roberts provides a rich insight into cloistered life, along with down-to-earth reminisicences of several famous monks, including Thomas Keating and Bernardo Olivera. But most important of all is his candid sharing of his own inner life, as he continually sought to be faithful to Christ in the midst of his extraordinarily rich life.

I got to know the Christian faith through its contemplative form, through abbeys. This is no faith of rules and merits. Neither is it a faith of dogmas that must be accepted as truths. Here I discovered a faith of lived experience and inwardness, preserved throughout the centuries and passed on… I knew nothing about abbeys. I had even less of a sense of what can happen to you in silence. Student life — yes, that I knew. And I knew that in a quiet moment, negative thoughts can surprise you. But that at times silence can fill a person with unspeakable richness — no, that was new and foreign to me. I could not figure it out. But it exerted an irresistible pull, and I returned.

Bieke Vandekerckhove
The Taste of Silence (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2015), p. 19

The second of six videos filmed at a talk I gave last August. Here I look at Karl Rahner’s oft-quoted statement (“the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist”) and reflect on what it means for the Christian community to be called into mystical spirituality in our time.

An Engaging Faith Podcast, featuring Carl McColman

On November 16, 2015 I appeared on “An Engaging Faith with Elizabeth Reardon.” We talked about my new book, Befriending Silence, and about my faith journey — from Protestant upbringing to adult seeking (in her very first question Elizabeth asked me about my Neopagan past), to my eventual embracing of both Catholicism and Cistercian spirituality. The show has now been archived as a podcast, so if you missed it live, you can still check it out here— just click on the link above.

We eventually become what we pay attention to, what we contemplate; and paying attention to our hearts in their longing for God eventually builds us up as children of God, and brothers and sisters of each other.

Alan W. Jones
Hour By Hour (Cincinnati, OH: Forward Movement, 2010), p. 111.

Here is the first of six videos filmed last August — I’ll be posting the others in the near future. This video is a brief introduction to one of my favorite Christian mystics, Julian of Norwich.


Sacred Reading: The Ancient Art of Lectio Divina (Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1995)

I’ve read a number of wonderful books on the ancient monastic practice of Lectio Divina, but I keep coming back to this one. Steeped in the author’s own formation as a Trappist monk and spiritual guide, Sacred Reading provides a thoughtful look at lectio not only as a spiritual practice but as a method of theological mindfulness, of discerning the rich meaning of scripture, and ultimately of presenting oneself to the Holy Spirit for the purpose of ongoing formation in Christ.
If approached carelessly, lectio divina can be just another practice of solipsistic self-exploration, offering little benefit other than an opportunity to know the self better. It’s a good thing to know oneself, but this spiritual practice offers so much more, for it is really about knowing God — something Casey clearly understands and an insight which informs this must-read book.

The contemplative life is a marvelous school of discernment where, in the course of the contemplative adventure, one learns to recognize the true consolations of the Spirit among so many desires swarming in the heart.

André Louf
In the School of Contemplation (Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2015), p. 14.

This afternoon I’ll be speaking with Elizabeth Reardon of An Engaging Faith  about Thomas Merton, Cistercian spirituality, and my new book, Befriending Silence. To listen to the show, use the Breadbox Media app (available for your iOS or Android device) or catch it later as a podcast.

Date: November 16, 2015
Time: 04:00-05:00 p.m.
Appearance: An Engaging Faith Interview
Outlet: An Engaging Faith (Breadbox Media)
Format: Podcast

Soul Friend: Spiritual Direction in the Modern World (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse, 2001)

Spiritual direction (or spiritual accompaniment) has become a widespread ministry in Catholic and mainstream Protestant circles over the last four decades, and this book by Kenneth Leech, published in 1977, may have directly contributed to its rise in popularity. Leech wrote the book with Anglican clergy in mind, only to discover that it found a larger audience among American laypeople. Heavily footnoted and steeped in history, it’s not a casual read — but it is a rich and rewarding one. The title comes from the Irish word anamchara (also spelled anam cara, as made popular in the 1990s by John O’Donohue), and speaks to the longstanding Celtic practice of elders providing spiritual mentoring to individuals. Leech explores not only the history of spiritual companionship, but also its therapeutic and prophetic (social/political) dimensions. Soul Friend is an essential book for anyone providing a ministry of spiritual companionship, but it is also a valuable book for anyone serious about the practice of Christian spirituality.

A Quick Word

Just Letting You Know What I'm Up To

Friends, you may have noticed that I’m not posting much lately. Don’t worry, that’s only a temporary situation. I am currently focussed on writing my next book, which will be a companion volume to The Big Book of Christian Mysticism. It will be published in late 2016 or early 2017. I’ll say more about it when […]