The unspoiled Skelligs are famous for their bird life. Above: looking towards Little Skellig, breeding ground for over 70,000 gannets.
"One of the best-known features of the monastic life is that a bell rings and monks go to pray. The main pillars of this routine are morning, noon and night.And each of those times has a different mood that fits the natural rhythm of the day. You might consider making these moods part of your day. When you’re on your own or cooped up with others, life can feel very monotonous - but by entering into of these three different moods you can create a natural rhythm which gives the day some colour." Dom Christopher Jamison, Abbot President of the English Benedictine Congregation, introduces three short films to help shape the day.
On Being is a Peabody Award-winning public radio conversation and podcast, and a Webby Award-winning website. On Being opens up the animating questions at the center of human life: What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?
Karen Armstrong, religious historian and former Catholic nun, is a provocative, original thinker on the role of religion in the modern world. Her "Charter for Compassion" promotes a new kind of religious discourse that goes back to the core values of religion: every single religion is based on compassion and on the golden rule, first propounded by Confucius 500 years before Christ, “Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you. Look into your own heart, discover what it is that gives you pain, and then refuse under any circumstance to inflict that pain on anybody else... This is civilization”. Listen here to her excellent TED talk.
The late John O’Donohue was an Irish poet and Hegelian philosopher. His themes of echo as the response of continuity, imagination as the ability to still see the mountain behind the mist, and absence as the transformed presence of the vanished, awaken our thinking and provide food for our spiritual journey in an increasingly hungry world. One of the lines that he loved in the New Testament was: “One day you will know as you are now known.” Click here to listen to his beautiful hour-long discourse on this topic.
“We do not know how to pray”, says St Paul, “but the Spirit prays within us, deeper than words”. For the prayer of the Spirit of Jesus to well up in our hearts, flood our hearts, and overflow in us, we have first to become still, to concentrate. Benedictine monk, Laurence Freeman, who heads the ecumenical World Community of Christian Meditation, introduces the ancient and simple practice of meditation.
The ‘Christian Art’ website is the brainchild of a former director of Sotheby’s, London, Patrick van der Vorst. His offering is simple: ‘one newsletter a day where we simply send you the Gospel reading of the day, alongside a work of art that we believe is poignant, reflective and appropriate to that reading. We offer a short reflection on the artwork and the reading. We simply give you the tools for you to meditate on the daily Gospel alongside a work of art.’ Visit this inspiring website here.
Renowned Franciscan friar, best selling author and inspirational speaker, Richard Rohr, offers daily meditations to your inbox, to awaken us to God’s loving presence in all things. The Daily Meditations theme for 2021 is “A Time of Unveiling.” Fr Richard writes, "I’m convinced we are living in such a time—when reality is being revealed as it is. Systems of evil have become both more brazen and banal, our sense of “normal” has been upended, and yet in the midst of it, God continues to invite us to deeper transformation. A few weeks into the pandemic, some people even began to use the word “apocalyptic” to describe what was taking place. Often, this word is used to scare people into some kind of fearful, exclusive, or reactionary behavior, all in expectation of the 'end times.' But the word “apocalyptic,” from the Greek apokálupsis, really just means 'unveiling'.”
'Aspects of the Spiritual Life’ is a series of uplifting, engaging and deeply human reflections on meditation by the late David Wood, Anglican priest from the North West of England and ambassador for the ecumenical Christian meditation movement. Access these short talks here.
Saint Ignatius believed that God could speak to us just as clearly in our imagination as through our thoughts and our memories. Contemplation isn't about trying to place yourself in a historic setting, like dreaming you were back in the Middle Ages, it's about trying to encounter Jesus in a personal and unique way. Some excellent imaginative contemplation exercises provided by the English Jesuits can be accessed here.
The desert is a theme of central importance in Sacred Scripture as well as in monastic history and spirituality. It continues to be an image of purification and transformation, of fascination and of danger. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has given six inspiring talks on modern Christian meditation and the desert tradition, drawing on the spiritual teaching of Benedictine monk, Dom John Main. Listen here to “The Spirit in the Desert”.
Mindfulness can be defined as intentionally bringing awareness to the present moment in a non-judgmental way. In a Christian context, the acts of prayer and meditation are in of themselves acts of mindfulness, bringing our mind back to our Creator in the present moment in a spiritual sense. This website provides pathways for Christians worldwide to connect with the many excellent media sources that can facilitate mindful prayer at any time.
The Word Among Us e-magazine offers daily meditations based on the Mass readings of the Catholic Church, inspirational essays, stories of the saints and more. Founded in 1981, the organisations aims to assist people in reading, meditating on and understanding scripture and to provide practical advice on the living out of the Christian life.
‘Tarsus’ is a website created by author, Augustinian friar and distinguished Bible scholar, Fr Kieran O’Mahony. It is a wonderful resource, offering rich Biblical nourishment for hungry pilgrims. These include stimulating reflections on Sunday readings, guidance on praying with the Scriptures, an overview of a range of Bible versions, links to the Bible and music, and a wealth of superb online lectures. Access it here.
Gerry Pierse (1940-1999) was a Redemptorist priest from County Kerry. During his missionary ministry, he became deeply involved in contemplative prayer, inspired by the teaching of Benedictine monk John Main. With a gift with words that made his teaching simple, clear, effective, and often humorous, Fr Pierse delivered a superb series of talks introducing Christian meditation. Listen to them here.
Lissy Clark, an American who has made her home in England, offers an excellent series of podcasts on the practice of Lectio Divina from an Anglican perspective (drawing also on Ignatian spirituality). Her website, Contemplative at Home, has many other rich spiritual resources.
Spiritual teacher and international best-selling author of books including The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle is not identified with any particular religion, but has been influenced by a wide range of spiritual works. At the core of his teaching lies, in his own words, "transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that I see as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violent conflict endemic on our planet". In this free series of five one-hour talks, he offers his teaching on how extreme difficulties such as the current pandemic can accelerate spiritual awakening.