spiritual life

Essential Lessons for Dads

Holy-Family"The Holy Family with dog" (detail) by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Our state in life is where we live out our vocation; it is the path by which we journey to Heaven. God has called each of us by name to Himself. In baptism we each received a share in the divine mission and a responsibility to be faithful to that mission. When a man and a woman answer God’s call to […]

Pray Always?

Photography by John Neff | Shutterstock

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) “Seriously? Pray always?” That is not an uncommon reaction to St. Paul’s admonition to pray always without ceasing. Does he know what we’re up against, the demands on our time and energy, the pace of our modern world, not to mention the fragility and inconsistency of our human nature? He can’t possibly mean always, as […]

Crossing the Threshold of Holy Week

"The First Eucharist" by Juan de Juanes

It caught me by surprise that the Carmelite Sisters keep a complete and prayerful silence during the Holy Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, not speaking until the conclusion of the evening Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday. I remember when I was the “new kid on the block,” a recently-arrived postulant who was learning more and […]

The Desert in Carmelite Spirituality

Photography © by Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

“What did you go out to the wilderness to see?” (Matthew 11:7) These were Jesus’ words to the crowd. John took to the desert to draw people out into solitude to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah. For many years the desert had become a place of encounter. In 1 Kings 19:1-8 a long time before John’s […]

Becoming More Human This Lent

Photo by Gabriel Jimenez on Unsplash

“You weren’t created for this world- so for the next forty days, live like it.” This Sunday, the first reading might surprise us. It’s Lent, so we might expect to hear about fasting or penance. Perhaps we expect the first reading to be about sacrifice or suffering. Instead, we start at the beginning. We’re back in the Garden, with the […]

Christ in the Desert

"Crossing of the Red Sea" (detail) by Hans III Jordaens / Public domain

“…if anyone wishes to seriously exercise the spiritual life, he had better know that the company of people that hold our own faith and worship in our own churches is a most difficult company to keep. And we ought not to pretend we can follow God very far unless we know that it is a desert like asceticism.” I write […]

The Penance of Every Day

“Perhaps you have an impressive plan of intense penances that you are convinced will make you holy by the Easter vigil … but what do your daily activities, obligations, and vocational demands look like?” If you’re a planner, you’ve already begun to think about what you’re going to “do” for Lent. When I was growing up, it was in vogue […]

Time

Recently I was late getting a manuscript to an editor. My excuse? By far the most popular one in America: I had “no time.” Let’s examine that excuse. Why do we all seem to have no time for anything, much less for prayer? I am constantly feeling guilty about this, and I suspect most of you are too. I think […]

Winter and the Spiritual Life

“We can have confidence that God is still working—even in the coldness, even in the darkness, even when all seems quiet.” For much of the Northern Hemisphere, January is that month when the weather finally makes up its mind to turn cold, the nights seem a little darker, and the wind seems a little more bitter.  Gone are the cheery […]

Watching and Waiting — Advent in Carmel

Advent in Carmel To experience Advent in Carmel is to enter into a rarified atmosphere that is filled to the brim with Carmel’s living legacy of Advent customs and observances. My first Advent in Carmel remains fresh in my memory today, still as vibrant and alive as when it happened. I feel at a loss, however, to write about it. […]