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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Seven Blessings of Silent Prayer

Why Contemplation Matters — For All People of Faith

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Silent prayer — contemplative prayer, what the Catholic Catechism calls “wordless prayer in which mind and heart focus on God’s greatness and goodness in affective, loving adoration” — is an important element of a mature Christian spirituality. The Bible instructs us to “be still and know… God” (Psalm 46:10), and even promises us that “silence […]

“The Process of Being in Relationship with God”

Some Notes from an Old Class on Prayer

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Okay: to summarize… Spirituality: the process of being in relationship with God. Belief and Wonder: the mental and emotional qualities of being open to the possibility of Divine presence in our lives. Culture, Ikons, Teachings/Tradition/Scripture: the stuff in our lives that carry the news of God to us; the evidence we have of God’s presence […]

Is Contemplation Dangerous?

If a tool is powerful, handle it with respect

Is contemplation the key to happiness, or a path to holiness? (Photo credit: Shutterstock)

Is contemplation dangerous? Some people think so. This past weekend I read a book that has given me some food for thought on this subject. The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You? is by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, two psychologists in England who study the idea that practices like yoga or mindfulness meditation have observable health benefits. They […]

How to Find a Contemplative-Friendly Church

Hint: Inquire Within

A Church is more than just a building...

Spirituality is all about love, and love only exists in relationship. Therefore, spirituality is healthiest when it is expressed in a communal way. For better or worse, this means — at least for followers of Jesus Christ and the Christian contemplative/mystical path — finding some sort of church or other faith community. That’s not always easy. […]

Nine Ways to Foster a Contemplative Church

Christianity Needs to Affirm Silent Prayer at the Congregational Level

Contemplation belongs in the neighborhood church

If you are the pastor of a church or parish, this post is for you. If you are not the pastor but are a member of a congregation, consider sharing this post with your pastor, especially if he or she is interested in silent prayer. Karl Rahner, the renowned 20th century Jesuit theologian, once wrote […]

What to Say to the Nay-Sayers: Talking About Contemplation With Its Critics

Often, remaining silent is better than getting into a pointless debate.

If you are active in a church or other faith community, and you are drawn to (or practicing) silent prayer, if you talk about it with others you will likely, sooner or later, hear somebody say something along these lines: “Isn’t meditation Buddhist? Or Hindu? Christians don’t need to do that sort of thing.” “Sitting […]

Mindfulness and Contemplation

What's the Difference?

Like a gentle stream, mindfulness and contemplative prayer both seek clarity. Yet only prayer seeks the face of God.

Recently a reader left the following comment on this blog: I have been reading and tried to practice the way of a contemplative life although poorly I believe. But my hunger for anything on the topic of contemplation continues. Recently I have also been enticed into “mindfulness” practices. Now what or how do you relation […]

Artist, Mystic, Pilgrim, Companion: An Interview with Christine Valters Paintner

The Soul of a Pilgrim

Recently I had the opportunity to interview author and contemplative artist Christine Valters Paintner of the Abbey of the Arts. We talked about contemplative spirituality, pilgrimage, and her latest book,  The Soul of a Pilgrim: Eight Practices for the Journey Within. The book celebrates the spirituality of pilgrimage by identifying eight essential practices that can […]

The Rule, the Discipline, and Spiritual Growth

Saint Benedict, author of the mostly widely used rule in western Christianity

I bet if I took a poll, almost everyone who reads my blog would agree with this statement: “I want to grow spiritually.” Readers of spiritual blogs want to grow in their faith and practice the way that readers of marketing blogs want to expand their business, or the readers of investment blogs want to […]

The Last Instructions of Christ to His Disciples

Gold mosaic from Neamt Monastery, Romania

In the first chapter of The Acts of the Apostles, Jesus gives his disciples their last instructions before his ascension into heaven (Acts 1:6-12). The first chapter of Acts is one of the easiest chapters in the New Testament to gloss over. After all, the real action of Acts begins with the second chapter, which […]

Contemplative Leadership with Saints Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola

Saints Benedict and Ignatius of Loyola, Contemplative Leaders

In recent months I have become very interested in the topic of leadership. Which might seem silly, since I do not manage people, or lead a congregation, or hold a military command position. But I’ve come to recognize that “leadership” is a topic that has broad implications, broader than just our job descriptions. And for […]