Advance Praise for “Befriending Silence”

Befriending Silence

What do Brian McLaren, Fr. Daniel Horan OFM, Fr. Michael Casey OCSO, Br. Patrick Hart OCSO, and Phyllis Tickle have in common? They’ve all endorsed Befriending Silence. Brian McLaren praises Befriending Silence as “a great gift to all who hunger for meaning, mystery, peace, hope, and God.” Fr. Daniel Horan calls the book “an accessible and enlightening introduction […]

One of my favorite faith communities is the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Atlanta, and I’m so pleased to be invited back to speak to their Adult Education Forum. This time I’ll be talking about my new book, Befriending Silence. I hope to see you there!

Date: December 13, 2015
Time: 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Event: Adult Education at the Shrine
Topic: Cistercian Spirituality
Sponsor: Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Venue: Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Location: 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303

Admittedly, Christians have not always appropriated and developed the spiritual treasures bestowed by God upon the Church, where the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us.

Pope Francis
On Care for Our Common Home: Laudato Si' (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2015), p. 125

Three Mystics You May Have Missed

Lesser Known — But Wonderful — Voices in the Contemplative Tradition

Jan Van Ruysbroeck (Ruusbroeck), a mystic worth reading (image: public domain)

Walk into a Catholic bookstore — or a general bookstore large enough to have a “Christian mysticism” section — and you will see books by or about Thomas Merton, Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, and Teresa of Avila, along with anonymous works like The Cloud of Unknowing or The Way of a Pilgrim.  These are the “A-List” mystics: […]

One of my writing students recently introduced me to the work of Eric Whitacre, who has become a bit of a celebrity for his “virtual choir” videos, featuring the recordings of hundreds or even thousands of vocalists from around the world, mixed together to create stunning performances of the composer’s works. As my wife and I were watching one of the virtual choir videos last night, Fran remarked that it would be lovely to see this done with music as prayer. Well, they could start with this deeply contemplative piece, nine minutes of “Alleluia.” While it hasn’t been performed by a virtual choir (yet), this video features a choral recording of “Alleluia” paired with some lovely nature scenery. Watch it, or simply let it be the soundtrack to your day. Either way you’ll be blessed.

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The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian (Brookline, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2011)

Here is a six-hundred-page treasure: a collection of 77 sermons by a seventh century mystic, Isaac the Syrian (also known as Isaac of Ninevah). Syriac Christianity has a long mystical streak, and St. Isaac one of its most eloquent and renowned voices. Be sure to check out homily 28 — if you’re anything like me, you’ll find St. Isaac’s theology of eternity and the love of God to be beautiful (but not sentimental) and profoundly intuitive.

I’ll be teaching “Introduction to World Mysticism” through Evening at Emory on a series of five Wednesday evenings beginning October 21, 2015. For more information or to register, click here.

Date: October 21, 2015—November 18, 2015
Time: 07:00-09:00 p.m.
Event: Introduction to World Mysticism
Topic: Introduction to World Mysticism
Sponsor: Emory Continuing Education
Venue: Emory Continuing Education
Location: 12 Executive Park Drive
Atlanta, GA
Registration: Click here to register.

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

Truly, there is so great a din in your heart, and so much loud shouting from your empty thoughts and fleshly desires that you can neither see nor hear Him. Therefore, silence this restless din, and break your love of sin and vanity. Bring into your heart a love of virtues and complete charity, and then you shall hear your Lord speak to you.


Walter Hilton
The Stairway of Perfection (New York: Image Books, 1979), p. 131

Seven Ways the Mystics Inspire Us Today

How the Spirituality of the Past will Craft the Christianity of the Future

Scott Boulevard Baptist Church, Decatur, GA; March 2015. Today this building no longer exists; it was demolished and the land will be developed for retail and/or residential use.

One of my favorite quotations comes from Karl Rahner: “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist.” It’s a prophetic statement, from a man who died in 1984. When paired with the demographic realities of the last 30 years (Americans who identify as Christian comprised 85% of the population in 1985, […]

Laudato Si'

Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home (Huntington, IN: Our Sunday Visitor, 2015)

The latest encyclical from Pope Francis has garnered a lot of attention, for never has a Pope spoken so forcefully about the duty of Christians — really, of all people — to care for the environment, and to work to stop such problems as global warming. The Pope’s critics whine that he takes a scolding tone in this document, and certainly this is not meant to be a “feel good” read. Even if you are predisposed to agree with Pope Francis, you may find this to be a challenging and sobering read. However, anyone with a clear grasp of Christian spirituality cannot dispute its central thesis: that stewardship for the environment is integrally linked with care for the poorest and most vulnerable members of the human family, and that both social and environmental justice are impossible without a firm spiritual foundation.

I’ll be teaching a class this fall on Monday evenings, September 14 through October 19, on Tears of An Innocent God, a new book by the Trappist monk Elias Marechal. This class will be meeting in a private home in the Morningside Neighborhood of Atlanta. There are a limited number of openings for this class, which will cost $100. The class meets from 6:30 to 8:30 PM for six Monday evenings. For more information, visit the class’s page on Facebook. If you are interested, please contact me using my Contact Page. Thank you.

Date: September 14, 2015—October 19, 2015
Time: 07:00-08:30 p.m.
Event: Silence and the Tears of God
Topic: Taking Your Contemplative Practice Deeper
Venue: Private Residence, Morningside Neighborhood of Atlanta
Location: Atlanta, GA
Public: Private

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

To be honest, I have to say that I see little difference between writing and praying. They both happen in the same place — that core of my person where all the wisdom lives. They both require attentiveness and honesty and an open heart. And the two disciplines — the art and the spirituality — are so intertwined that it’s really inaccurate to refer to them separately. When I tend to the one, the other is helped. When I dismiss either one, both suffer.

Vinita Hampton Wright
The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers (Chicago: Loyola Press, 2013), p. 62

How Saint Benedict Can Help Us Grow Spiritually

The Benedictine Vows and a Life of Integrity, Commitment, and Mindfulness

Monk in Stained Glass (Panaspics/Shutterstock)

How can the wisdom of the monastery help folks like you and me — who are not monks or nuns — to grow spiritually? To answer that question, we can begin by looking at The Rule of Saint Benedict. The Rule of Saint Benedict remains one of the great classics of western spirituality, even though it was written […]

Here is a delight: Philip Marshall (I don’t know who he is, but he has a beautiful voice) reads “Immanence,” a poem by Evelyn Underhill. Enjoy!

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Journey to the Heart: Christian Contemplation Through the Centuries (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011)

Beautifully illustrated and featuring a number of noted contributors (Laurence Freeman, Esther de Waal, Kallistos Ware, Shirley du Boulay and Andrew Louth, among others), this narrative history of Christian contemplation looks at the key figures in two millennia of Church history. Starting with Freeman’s thoughtful essay of Jesus as a contemplative teacher, the anthology explores how both the theology and practice of silence and prayer are found in every chapter of Christian tradition. I only have one quibble with the book: the final chapter profiles John Main, begging the question why other prominent late twentieth century contemplatives (like Thomas Keating) were left out.