Contemplative Prayer

Coronavirus and Contemplation: A Fourth Reflection

This is a fourth podcast in response to a request for information about contemplative prayer in light of social distancing and the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. Here I reflect on the fact that, from the beginning, the contemplation of God has always been the true aim of the Christian life, and how the inherently contemplative character of Christian practice has become muddled in the West through various philosophical and historical circumstances. While we will likely continue to post audio reflections, this is the last in this series of four. You can listen to this post by clicking on the "play" button above....

Pascha (Easter) Sermon, 2020

In times like these, we are reminded that we can take nothing for granted. This past week, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the subject of many of my conversations has circled around the fact that our world, and lives, have changed in what seems the bat of an eye. While we all long for life to return to normal, we fear that it never can. I remember many moments in my own life where going back, where returning to normal, became impossible. We might call such moments growing pains. May our current situation be this for us. Paradoxically, there are so many ways in which it can be, if we step up to the occasion....

Coronavirus and Contemplation: A Third Reflection

This is a third podcast in response to a request for information about contemplative prayer in light of social distancing and the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. Here I reflect on sin and the human condition in light of scripture, most especially the early chapter in Genesis, and how contemplative prayer assists the process of healing. You can listen to this post by clicking on the "play" button above....

Coronavirus and Contemplation: A Second Reflection

This is a second podcast in response to a request for more information about contemplative prayer in light of social distancing and the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. Here I provide some practical "how to" advice about the practice of contemplative prayer. You can listen to this post by clicking on the "play" button above....

Coronavirus and Contemplation: A First Reflection

I have been reflecting on the connections between our social distancing and contemplative practice for well over a week now, and had hoped to offer some reflections on this very thing. At the same time, I certainly did not want to be trite or to use the situation to garner attention or to push a cause. We do not know what the repercussions of current events may be, and we face the specter of economic and financial hardship for some time to come. God’s will be done; we have to submit ourselves to his mercy as well as his majesty. Still, it seems like sacred ground, and I have been circumspect to dare to tread here....

To Have a Peaceful Heart

The holy fathers and mothers of our tradition have unstintingly spoken of the Christian spiritual life as warfare. The gospels present Jesus as the true warrior King, going about the regions of Galilee casting out the legions of demons and their works. I know from my own engagement of contemplative practice that this metaphor holds. We need the resolve to contend. Still, a part of me has at the same time remained uncomfortable with the imagery. One thing is clear: the Christian life is not a life of endless, futile conflict. That is not the point. Indeed, as Christians we should be growing tired of such futility, and making our exodus Godward, into the everlasting peace of his kingdom....

The Holy Irrelevance of the Contemplative Christian Life

Christians with a call to the contemplative life often experience confusion, dissatisfaction, even shame and guilt. Let’s face it: contemporary American society is decisively focused outward, entrenched and adrift in the things of this world. We measure our lives and the value of them by outward achievements, by the things we can quantify, by external signs. This is why Christians who hear the call to the secret inner life tend to experience frustration and even depression. While their desire is to delve into that interior quietude and the things of the Spirit, everything and everyone around them tells them that they must enter the fray and the clash of outward things, the things of the flesh. Even their churches tell them so: they must do-good. They must be activists, always...

What is God’s Will for My Life?

Christians often wonder about the work of the Christian life. With no small amount of anxiety, we find ourselves asking, “What is God’s will for my life?” or “What does God want me to do?” While it is important always to ask if our lives are conformed to God’s will, we too often focus these questions on outward things: activities, projects, jobs, money, and other such endeavors in this transitory world. The work to which a Christian is called, however, is chiefly an inner, secret work wrought deep within the soul. It is spiritual work, not carnal work. First seek the kingdom of God, and all else shall come to you....

The Original Christian Sports Ministry: Training in the Life of Prayer

Christian sports ministries seem to be growing in popularity, and it is understandable why. Deep down, we know that being Christian requires an athletic frame of mind. It requires training, teamwork, concentration, acquired skill. It requires that we contend, giving our best and fullest. In the early ages of the Church, Christians were discouraged from participating in secular games. Instead, Christians contended in the unseen, spiritual warfare of a life devoted to prayer. Mons Nubifer Sanctus provides the original Christian sports ministry: training in this way of prayer....

Are You Ready for a Silent Retreat?

Attending a silent retreat at Mons Nubifer Sanctus can be challenging. But challenge and growth in the Christian spiritual life go together. If we are not being challenged, we are likely not growing in our life in God. Our silent contemplative prayer retreats provide authentic training in Christian virtue. They help to deepen prayer and the sense of worship before the incontestable majesty of God. Are you ready to try a silent retreat at Mons Nubifer Sanctus?...