Who

10447658_10152117594536673_2314455857705790145_nI’m a university lecturer. I teach engineering and live in Thailand, but I’m Canadian, white, and Anglo.

As a graduate student in England and France, I converted to the Catholic Church. There was just something in the lives of some friends that I wanted, too. In the few weeks following my initial conversion experience, the words that I found to express this something came from Charles de Foucauld: “See Jesus in all people.”

The deepest desire in my heart is to love people, to think on Jesus, to live a contemplative life, but not to withdraw one inch from the world. If you think that’s mad, please read the blog.

You can contact me privately, by email, at contemplativeinthemud {at} gmail.com

14 thoughts on “Who

  1. Hello! Brilliant idea. Yes truly we are as laity called to contemplation…contemplation in action…Time spent down the pub, listening to old hat music..thinking old thoughts….feeling sorry for ourselves or daydreaming can all be transmuted into gravitational love towards the Beloved…and then we are truly on the road.
    I too have been wondering abut how to start a group for lay people (and anyone else) who genuinely seeks to aspire to sanctity and union with God. We will, I hope, study the great works of St John of the Cross, St Theresa of Avila, Charles de Foucald..the Fathers and Mothers of the Church…as well as look at some of the classic works written on the Spiritual life and its natural progress ie “The three ages” of Garrigou Lagrange and the “Spiritual Life”: a treatise on Ascetical and Mystical theology: both French authors-very recommended for their clarity and precision and their emphasis on the fact that the living branch grows! We have to aspire to union with God in this-lay or otherwise-their is no surrogate joy for us.
    I am a lay theologian and teacher of Religious studies and Philosophy. I was at one time a Seminarian and a monk for some of that time. If I can help, or participate in your project…I will.
    Blessings

    • Even though I haven’t written about all these things (or, more exactly, haven’t published the posts yet), I think we have very similar ideas about who and what sources are helpful for laypeople and others aspiring to contemplative love!

      I very much like John of the Cross, Teresa, Brother Charles, and “The Three Ages [Conversions]” by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (I’ve just recently read the book and wish I had done so much sooner).

      If you have any ideas for posts or even anything you’d like to share or write, feel free to get in touch privately (email above is probably easiest). =)

  2. Thank you for the many helpful articles on your blog. I was particularly pleased to see that you have shared some of Brother Marcel Van’s beautiful writings. I am also very fond of the saints and spiritual writers that you reference on your website (St. Alphonsus, Bl. Charles etc.). If you are interested, I have a wealth of books/resources/quotes etc. that I believe you would appreciate and profit from. One such book (which contains revelations given to Sr. Benigna Consolata, a “little soul”, much like Marcel Van) is titled ‘Vademecum Proposed to Religious Souls’, which contains many valuable insights into the interior life, among other things. It can be viewed for free here:

    http://archive.org/stream/vademecumpropose00ferruoft#page/n7/mode/2up

    Here is my e-mail: littlestsouls [a t } hotmail \dot] com

    I would be happy to hear from you.

    God bless.

    • Thanks for your comments!

      I’ve not heard of Sr. Benigna Consolata before, but I very much like Visitandine spirituality (Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal). My first introduction to Catholic spirituality (while still a Protestant) was Francis de Sales. I will have to look into Sr. Benigna Consolata and your own website.

      P.S. I’ve edited your email address for public display (to help prevent spam).

  3. You’re welcome.
    I am with you there; the writings of St. Frances de Sales, in particular, are very practical. ‘The Ways of Mental Prayer’ by Dom Vital Lehodey is an exceptional book that makes frequent reference to St. Frances de Sales. I highly recommend it.

    The revelations of Sr. Benigna Consolata are absolutely incredible. She is certainly a jewel of the Visitandine Order. If I remember correctly, Our Lord referred to “Benigna” as Marcel Van’s “sister”. I could be wrong, but I think I remember reading that in “Conversations 2” before I gave it to a friend. Should you wish to purchase the ‘Vademecum’ book, here is a link: http://www.bookdepository.com/Vademecum-Proposed-Religious-Souls-Benigna-Consolata-Ferrero/9781290174831 (If I could only have one book, apart from the Bible, that would be it!)

    Thanks for editing my e-mail! I detest spam (in both its forms).

    Take care and God bless.

  4. Hi there! I just am finally starting a blog to discuss my art and ran across your site, which I’m now following since I read a few of your posts and like them very much! I’m a secular Carmelite, and so have been reading many of the saints you quote. I really like the short, single thought posts – they remind me of how short heartfelt prayers are so much better than lengthy monologues which are probably just indulgences of the mind. I’m working on art for contemplation and prayer – been painting a while but just starting with the blog bit. Anyway, just a thanks for your blog. I’ll read it. Here’s my images if you are curious…I’m trying to update sites and all… http://annchapin.com

    • Glad to meet you! Many Carmelite saints have big impact on me, or perhaps they’ve just taken me by the hand. This is one of those areas that I’ve been discerning a vocation for some time. Given my living conditions things do not always work out easily, though. If you have any time to pray for me in regard to things like a vocation and getting to know Carmelites more, please do. I’ll pray for you, too.

      I try to put many different types of posts on the blog. But usually they do tend to be short. They might reflect the shortness of heartfelt prayers. Others, I’m sure, reflect some laziness and sloppiness in putting coherent thoughts together ;)

      I’ll stop by your blog, too. =)

      • As I am sure you know, Elizabeth of the Trinity really felt like one actually COULD be a real contemplative in the world, and we need to be able to do that. Ever hear the story about the desert father and ‘the holiest man?’ Apparently God told this desert father he’d show him the holiest man on earth, and told him to go into the city…to a certain shop…and stand and listen at his door. He did and heard the man, every time someone walked by his shop, say this prayer, “God, if that person has sinned and merits hell, please let me go there instead of him.” (Or something close to that I can’t recall the exact words…)

        • I’m not sure I’ve heard that story or not. But I’ve heard similar. I like the story. =)

          Yes, I really like Blessed Elizabeth’s words about her time in the world, her advice to her sister Guite, her ability to take Saint Catherine of Siena’s “cell in my heart” and apply it to the situations of the modern world, her idea that interior “silence” is possible even when exterior is not, etc.

          Blessed Charles de Foucauld’s spirituality was distinctively Carmelite, too, and he is the inspiration for many “contemplative in the world” groups (be they religious or lay). I like to blog quite a bit about Brother Charles.

          I think (but this is just my personal opinion) it must have quite a bit to do with John of the Cross and Teresa themselves. After all, Teresa wrote so confidently of her brother Lorenzo’s ability to attain to contemplative prayer (and personally believed he went very quickly to heaven). And John wrote the “Living Flame of Love” for Ana de Peñalosa, a layperson. From these two facts alone, we can deduce that Teresa and John seem to think the highest heights of contemplation might be reached in the world and they offer counsel accordingly. =)

  5. No, your idea is not mad. It is the way Christians should be; love God and love others as much as ourselves. Ironically, sometimes I find it challenging to do those simple things.

  6. I am so pleased to discover your efforts. Detached, few things draw my attention. This website captures. I love this expansion: “They’re (7 gifts) just necessary because, even with faith, hope, and love, we’re not very clever creatures. Our own promptings and inspirations are not that great.”. I came on heavy in e-mail. Patience, absolutely no need to respond.

  7. Hi Ben,

    Your blog is a treasure trove of wisdom. I wish I would have discovered it sooner. For the past year or so I’ve tried to be a “contemplative in the mud” as I’ve walked the streets as an evangelist. Blessed Charles de Foucauld has been my primary patron, though I hardly knew him when I first started walking the streets. I’ve just been learning as I go—the Lord never makes it too easy on us!

    Pax Christi,
    Scott Woltze

  8. What a blessing to have found your gem of a blog! Yes, God has so many contemplatives in the mud! Theresa of Avila suffered the bad roads–muddy ones, I’m sure, and told the Lord, “No wonder You have so few friends–Look how You treat them!” Yes, the sense of humor, too. I will be sharing so much of this with my covenant community, LOVE CRUCIFIED, and with other muddy saints whom I know.

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