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If you feel bombarded by emails, phone calls, text messages and the daily stress that comes with them, there could be a solution for you. Some people have found relief in perfect silence. Host Michel Martin learns more about the popularity of silent retreats.

Chanting the psalms, or psalmody, is an ancient practice of vital importance in the Christian spiritual tradition. Today many think of it as a discipline that belongs only in monasteries--but psalmody is a spiritual treasure that is available to anyone who prays. You don't need to be musical or a monk to do it, and it can be enjoyed in church liturgical worship, in groups, or even individually as part of a personal rule of prayer. Cynthia Bourgeault brings the practice into the twenty-first century, providing a history of Christian psalmody as well as an appreciation of its place in contemplative practice today. And she teaches you how to do it as you chant along with her on the accompanying CD in which she demonstrates the basic techniques and easy melodies that anyone can learn. "Even if you can't read music," Cynthia says, "or if somewhere along the way you've absorbed the message that your voice is no good or you can't sing on pitch, I'll still hope to show you that chanting the psalms is accessible to nearly everyone."

"The practice of contemplation is one of the great spiritual arts," writes Martin Laird in A Sunlit Absence. "Not a technique but a skill, it harnesses the winds of grace that lead us out into the liberating sea of silence." In this companion volume to his bestselling Into the Silent Land, Laird focuses on a quality often overlooked by books on Christian meditation: a vast and flowing spaciousness that embraces both silence and sound, and transcends all subject/object dualisms. Drawing on the wisdom of great contemplatives from St. Augustine and St. Teresa of Avila to St. Hesychios, Simone Weil, and many others, Laird shows how we can uncover the deeper levels of awareness that rest within us like buried treasure waiting to be found. The key insight of the book is that as our practice matures, so will our experience of life's ordeals, sorrows, and joys expand into generous, receptive maturity. We learn to see whatever difficulties we experience in meditation--boredom, lethargy, arrogance, depression, grief, anxiety--not as obstacles to be overcome but as opportunities to practice surrender to what is. With clarity and grace Laird shows how we can move away from identifying with our turbulent, ever-changing thoughts and emotions to the cultivation of a "sunlit absence"--the luminous awareness in which God's presence can most profoundly be felt. Addressed to both beginners and intermediates on the pathless path of still prayer, A Sunlit Absence offers wise guidance on the specifics of contemplative practice as well as an inspiring vision of the purpose of such practice and the central role it can play in our spiritual lives.

Bourgeault looks to the Gospels, to contemplative experience, and to recently discovered ancient Christian documents (such as the Nag Hammadi scriptures and the Gospel of Thomas) to reveal a fresh new understanding of Jesus and his teaching.