Mystics Seek the “Dark Night of the Soul”

One of the best historical texts on mysticism is from John of the Cross.  John of the Cross is a 15th Century Friar who is the author of poetry and other writings that  speak to our need for a mature spirituality.  He  was the author of The Dark Night of the Soul.  Even today, this text can  help invite and illustrate for us how we can seek to go beyond our mere feelings and emotions to experience God directly.  This experience can best be seen in its outcomes because while in the “Dark Night” we are without the normal words and feels we normally experience.  Mystics, then and now, seek to be centered in God and to go beyond mere feelings and words.

My Life is not About Me

My life is not about me; it is about God, and God is about love. When we don’t know love, when we experience only the insecurity and fragility of the small self, we become restless, violent, and hateful. But in contemplation we move to a different space where we see the illusion of separateness. We experience what my recently deceased friend Sister Paula Gonzalez referred to as “a self surrounded by a semipermeable membrane.” There’s a constant flow, in both directions, through that membrane. – Richard Rohr

Don’t Waste Your Life

Don’t wait your time on useless activities. We all only get so much life. And, usually, we do not know when our time will end. We need to live life knowing the mystery that it is. To do so, we must learn to be silent and listen to our Triune God speak to our hearts. Centering Prayer or meditation can help us to do this. It is never a waste of time to be silent with an intent to listen and learn from our Triune Lord. In this silence, we will discover our passions, our joys and our next steps. Stop and listen daily. Stop and listen often. Stop and hear the joy in your heart and soul.

I did not like it – but love what it does to me

I did not like it. In fact, it was so hard at first. Centering Prayer feels like nothingness. But, I began to notice a difference in me. One that I really like. I was calm and less judgmental. I was more alive and joyful. I was more – me. It became worth the struggle. I began to long for it.

These days I usually spend 45 minutes each day in Centering Prayer. I spend 20 minutes in the morning, 5 minutes midday and 20 minutes in the evening. It brackets my day in time listening to Our Lord. It is a great blessing now. Thank you Lord!

Spirituality is about seeing

Spirituality is about seeing—seeing things in their wholeness, which can only be done through the lens of our own wholeness. That is the key! It’s about taking responsibility for our way of relating to things rather than aiming for any kind of perfect results or necessary requirements. Once you see skillfully, the rest follows. You don’t need to push the river, because you are already in it. The One Life is living itself within us, and we learn how to say yes to that one shared life, which includes both the good and the bad sides of everything. This Divine Life is so large, deep, and spacious that it even includes its seeming opposite, death. This one, great life does not end, it merely changes. This is true in the entire physical world, and Jesus tells us it is true in the spiritual world too. – Fr.  Richard Rohr

Christian Mysticism is all about experiences

Mysticism isn’t about keeping your hands clean. Rather it impels you to get them dirty.

Christian mysticism is all about experience—the experience of union with God, or of the presence of God. But it’s also about a spiritual reality that undermines experience itself, deconstructing all your masks and self-defenses and leaving you spiritually naked and vulnerable before the silence of the Great Mystery.

– Carl McColman

Centering Prayer

Here is the simple method for practicing Centering Prayer as taught by Thomas Keating. I hope you’ll try it and stay with it for a while!
1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.
2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
3. When engaged with your thoughts [including body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections], return ever so gently to the sacred word.
4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.


Thomas Keating, “The Method of Centering Prayer: The Prayer of Consent,” Contemplative Outreach,

Lectio Divina

“Lectio Divina”, a Latin term, means “divine reading” and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups but Guigo’s description remains fundamental.

He said that the first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.

The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.

The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.

The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within. Obviously this transformation will have a profound effect on the way we actually live and the way we live is the test of the authenticity of our prayer. We must take what we read in the Word of God into our daily lives.

These stages of Lectio Divina are not fixed rules of procedure but simply guidelines as to how the prayer normally develops. Its natural movement is towards greater simplicity, with less and less talking and more listening. Gradually the words of Scripture begin to dissolve and the Word is revealed before the eyes of our heart. How much time should be given to each stage depends very much on whether it is used individually or in a group. If Lectio Divina is used for group prayer, obviously more structure is needed than for individual use. In group prayer, much will depend on the type of group. Lectio Divina may involve discussing the implications of the Word of God for daily life but it cannot be reduced to this. The movement of the prayer is towards silence. If the group is comfortable with silence, more time could be spent resting in the Word.

The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.

Source:  Order of the Carmelites at:


Everyday We Can Experience God

Each day provides a chance to experience our Triune God. But to do so, we must be mindful and available. This is our choice. We usually refer to this as prayer. And, it does not need to be complicated. A simple pause, a well-known verse, an Our Father, and a Centering Prayer period all are forms of prayer that allow us to experience our Triune God.

It’s up to us. God is always available. Will we make ourselves available?  Will you make yourself available?