This Silent Blog is Going Silent

(But Only Until Pentecost)

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I hope you have had a wonderful and prayerful Lent, and that your Holy Week is likewise a time for reflection and contemplative waiting. Here’s looking forward to Easter — and the Easter season. May it be filled with joy, warmth, and plenty of “alleluias”! One thing that won’t be part of this Easter season: new […]

The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism

FI-Julian

Karl Rahner, one of the most renowned Christian theologians of the twentieth century, once famously remarked that “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” For people whose experience of Christianity is, often, little more than a religion invested in obedience and in patriarchal morality, this seems to […]

As for you, however, if you do not trust the prophets, and if you suppose both the fire and the men who saw it to be a legend, the Lord Himself shall speak to you, He “who being in the form of God did not count equality with God as an opportunity for gain, but emptied Himself,” the God of compassion who is eager to save man. And the Word Himself now speaks to you plainly, putting to shame your unbelief, yes, I say, the Word of God speaks, having become man, in order such as you may learn from man how it is even possible for man to become a god.

Clement of Alexandria
Exhortation to the Greeks (and other works) (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1919), p. 21-23.

What better place to celebrate the spirituality of Julian of Norwich than at a St. Julian’s Church? On May 21 (the week after Julian’s feast day) I’ll lead a day retreat on the theme “God is Our Mother and Other Wisdom Teachings from Julian of Norwich.” Call the Church for more information and/or to register. Cost is $30. Bring your own lunch or order a boxed lunch for an additional $10.

Date: May 21, 2016
Time: 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Event: Julian of Norwich Day Retreat
Topic: Julian of Norwich
Sponsor: St. Julian's Episcopal Church
770-949-9949
Venue: St. Julian's Episcopal Church
770-949-9949
Location: 5400 Stewart Mill Rd
Douglasville, GA 30135
Public: Public

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

I’m a featured presenter at the 2016 “Super Seminar” sponsored by the International Association of Conference Center Administrators. My topic: Benedictine Spirituality and the Mission of Church Camps and Conference Centers. If you’re a member of IACCA, I hope to see you there.

Date: April 27, 2016
Event: IACCA "Super Seminar"
Sponsor: IACCA
Location: Fruitland Park, FL
Public: Private

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

In the Christian tradition, everyone is called to be a mystic — that is, to enjoy that direct relationship with God for which every human soul is created. Cor ad cor loquitur: heart must speak to heart in the final most intimate encounter that is nearer to the self than breathing, for the perception, however feeble, by the soul of its Creator must eventually be direct.

Anne Fremantle
The Protestant Mystics (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1964), p. vii.

Do Contemplatives Need the Church?

And while we're at it: does the Church need contemplatives?

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A post on this blog received the following comment yesterday: Having been with the Catholic Church and seminary trained for all my 71 years of life . I am naturally contemplative . But I do now believe practising formal meditation/contemplation is false . Aren’t we missing the point if we try and set time aside […]

I’m so pleased to be heading to Florida April 1-3 to lead a retreat on behalf of the Bishops Institute for Ministry and Leadership, specifically for college students. The retreat has been organized on behalf of the Episcopal campus ministries at the University of Florida, University of North Florida, and Florida State — but students from other campuses are welcome.

Date: April 1, 2016—April 3, 2016
Event: Florida College Student Retreat
Sponsor: The Bishop's Institute for Ministry and Leadership
Venue: Camp Weed
Location: Live Oak, FL 32060
Public: Private
More Info: Click here for more information.

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Fr. Daniel Horan, OFM, offers an introduction to the life and writings of the Trappist author/contemplative/spiritual guide, Thomas Merton.

Three Approaches to Prayer When the Dry Times Come

Spiritual Aridity Requires Patience and Perseverance — and More

St. Catherine's, one of the oldest Christian monasteries, is in the Sinai desert where monks have prayed for over 1500 years.

A friend of mine posed the following question recently on Facebook: You may have written about this before but how about dry times in prayer? What to do? Does it really mean anything? Can we have an impact on it or do we patiently wait it out? The fancy term here is “aridity.” I suspect […]

Pray Every Day (And Be Willing to Start Small)

I often am asked for advice on how to begin a daily prayer practice — whether that involves silent prayer (such as centering prayer) or praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Many people find the idea of setting aside forty minutes a day for centering prayer (twenty minutes in the morning, and another twenty at night), or the ninety minutes or so it takes to pray the complete Liturgy, to be daunting. “How can I ever establish a daily habit of prayer? I can barely find enough time brush my teeth, let alone commit an hour or more each day to prayer!”

I believe the secret to daily prayer is in the word daily. It’s better to start small, and develop a daily habit, than to attempt a large commitment that will just compete with all the other demands on your time — and lead quickly to a sense of frustration or defeat, when all those other demands get in the way of your prayer time. It’s the same principle for learning a new musical instrument or adopting a new exercise regimen. If you have been sedentary for the last decade and decide you want to run a marathon, you need to recognize you’re not going to run 28 miles the first day you train! It’s better to start with a nice brisk walk — and then keep training daily, gradually building your strength and stamina so that you can eventually achieve your goal.

The same logic works in fostering a new commitment to prayer. If you want to begin a centering prayer practice, at first just do it five or ten minutes a day — but try to do it every day. And if you do miss a day or two, let go of the temptation to judge yourself; just get back into the daily practice as soon as you can.

Likewise with the Liturgy. Maybe at first you only can find the time to pray one Psalm in the morning and one Canticle in the evening (or something like that). Or maybe you just have time to pray one of the shorter offices, like Compline, each day. It’s okay to start small. It’s better, in the long run, to begin with fostering that daily commitment, and then allowing the commitment to grow over time. As you become established in your daily practice, it’s almost inevitable that you will begin to hunger for more. You’ll find five minutes a day of silence isn’t enough. Or just praying a Psalm or two each day isn’t enough. That’s when your practice begins to bear fruit — and truly becomes joyful. Pray every day, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly (and organically) your daily practice will grow.

Is There a “Contemplative” Personality Type?

Introverts, Extroverts, and the Prayer of Silence

Is there a "contemplative" personality type?

I once heard Richard Rohr tell a charming story of giving a retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, where Thomas Merton lived. Rohr was surprised to find that not all the monks particularly cared for Merton. When he asked about this, one of the brothers said, “Merton told us we weren’t contemplatives, we were just introverts!” It’s […]

In May I will be leading the annual retreat for an Episcopal dispersed community, the Worker Sisters (and Brothers) of the Holy Spirit. If you’re a member of this community, I look forward to seeing you at the retreat.

Date: May 13, 2016—May 15, 2016
Event: Worker Sisters of the Holy Spirit Retreat
Sponsor: Worker Sisters of the Holy Spirit
Location: St. Louis, MO
Public: Private

To invite me to speak to your community, click here.

Do not, then, stir yourself up to useless interior activities. Avoid everything that will bring unnecessary complications into your life. Live in as much peace and quiet and retirement as you can, and do not go out of your way to get involved in labors and duties, no matter how much glory they may seem to give to God. Do the tasks appointed to you as perfectly as you can with disinterested love and great peace in order to show your desire of pleasing God. Love and serve Him peacefully and in all your works preserve recollection. Do what you do quietly and without fuss. Seek solitude as much as you can; dwell in the silence of your own soul and rest there in the simple and simplifying light which God is infusing into you. Do not make the mistake of aspiring to the spectacular “experiences” that you read about in the lives of great mystics. None of those graces (called gratis datae) can sanctify you nearly so well as this obscure and purifying light and love of God which is given you to no other end than to make you perfect in His love.

Thomas Merton
The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2003), p. 97.

Five Essential Dimensions of Christian Prayer

Deepen Your Intimacy with God through Each of these Ways of Praying

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I talk a lot about silent prayer in this blog, which is understandable considering that my focus is on contemplative prayer, which the Catholic Catechism describes as “wordless prayer.” As important as silence is to contemplative and mystical forms of prayer, it’s only one of five essential dimensions of Christian prayer. In this post I look at […]

In October 2012 Rowan Williamson, then the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, addressed the Catholic Synod of Bishops in Rome at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI. It was an historic occasion, as this was the first time an Anglican Archbishop had addressed the Catholic Synod. If it were up to me, this talk would be circulated far and wide, read by all Christians and studied in all seminaries. I think this talk is so important because it addresses the centrality of contemplation in the life of Christian discipleship today. Here’s an example of the wisdom found here:

Contemplation is very far from being just one kind of thing that Christians do: it is the key to prayer, liturgy, art and ethics, the key to the essence of a renewed humanity that is capable of seeing the world and other subjects in the world with freedom – freedom from self-oriented, acquisitive habits and the distorted understanding that comes from them. To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. To learn contemplative practice is to learn what we need so as to live truthfully and honestly and lovingly. It is a deeply revolutionary matter.

To read about the address, including a complete transcript of the entire address, follow this link: www.rowanwilliams.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2645/archbishops-address-to-the-synod-of-bishops-in-rome