"My Job is to Love": Contemplative Spirituality Part 1: Carl McColman

"My Job is to Love": Contemplative Spirituality Part 1: Carl McColman

After a life of spiritual wandering, Carl McColman found a home among the Trappist monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit outside Atlanta. Now a practicing Lay Cistercian, McColman balances family life with contemplative practices inherited from these ancient traditions. McColman is the author of a dozen books, including Answering the Contemplative Call: First Steps on the Mystical Path, and The Big Book of Christian Mysticism: The Essential Guide to Contemplative Spirituality.

Also on the show, our political affairs producer, David Dunn, explores his experience with writer's block.

You can listen to part 2 of this interview here.

It's been quite a long, strange trip for author and spiritual director Carl McColman.

When he was younger, he was caught up in what he refers to as a "carefree life." But in 1992, he had a near brush with death in a serious automobile accident. This event profoundly changed his perspective and his priorities.

"I hungered for intimacy with God," McColman explains, "an intimacy I knew could be fostered by prayer, meditation, and contemplation."

He studied Christian meditation at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, and received additional training in the art of spiritual direction from the Institute for Pastoral Studies in Atlanta. He is a professed member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, a community under the spiritual guidance of the Trappist monks of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.

As a Lay Cistercian, his spirituality is ordered toward what Walter Hilton called "the mixed life" — devoted to the practice of contemplation within the context of marriage and family, outside of a traditional monastery.

"Many people, both inside and outside the boundaries of the institutional church, hunger for that intimacy with God that the wisdom of the mystics points us to," says McColman. "The more I meet people who share my hunger for the God who comes to us in mystery and silence, the more convinced I am that contemplation is not just for monks, or nuns, or the especially holy. It’s for all of us."

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