Relational Contemplation

Christian Mysticism is More Than Just the Flight of the Alone to the Alone

Medieval image of Neoplatonic philosophers Plotinus and Porphyry (public domain).

The Christian faith stands on the recognition that God is Love. Therefore, love is the heart of all spirituality, including contemplative prayer. We are called not just to be contemplatives — we are called to be relational contemplatives. Writing in the third century, the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus had this to say about mysticism: This is the life of gods […]

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. […]

Deeper into the Heart of Christ

Christian Spirituality: Seeing Every Moment of Life as an Invitation into the Sacred Heart

Christian spirituality: it's about a new way of seeing.

Over the past year I have become interested in the topic of “Christian leadership.” People who are in a leadership position in the Christian community — whether clergy, consecrated religious, or lay leaders — who are they? What makes them leaders? Where do Christian leaders take the rest of us? How do we identify a […]

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: […]

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, […]

How Mysticism is Unique — and Universal

Provide opportunities to worship in silence.

How, exactly, does Christian mysticism relate to all the other “mysticisms” of the world (Kabbalah, Sufism, Taoism, Vedanta, Zen, etc.)? A reader of this blog writes: I have been reading your Big Book of Christian Mysticism: on page 64 you say that “Ultimately … no absolutely clear distinction can be drawn between Christian and non-Christian […]

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 […]

Seven Hopes for the Christian (and Church) of the Future

Church buildings will eventually crumble, but Divine Light lasts forever.

In his 1981 book Concern for the Church, Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner made his famous prediction, “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” A third of a century later, has Rahner’s prediction come to pass? The “not exist at all” part seems ominously real, as more […]