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St. Teresa, should I strive to quiet my mind during prayer?

Teresa of Avila 22 copy

Q: Dear Saint Teresa, I have read a number of books on prayer that advocate methods of suppressing, shutting down, or eliminating thinking all together during prayer.  In one centering prayer book it said to “let your thoughts go” and that “thoughts are a normal part of prayer.” Even though the book claimed that it was not teaching to eliminate thoughts, in the end, the method... Read More

Can Centering Prayer be Redeemed? (Updated)

January 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Centering Prayer, Dan Burke, Featured, Hesychasm, Prayer


Q: Dear Dan, I recently read your three part series on false prayer practices and, if I read between the lines, it seems like you believe that one can practice centering prayer in a way that is in keeping with faithful Catholic prayer tradition. Is this true, and if so, how would you justify this?  A: Dear Friend, you are very perceptive. While a number of Centering Prayer (CP) practitioners attacked... Read More

Can I Trust Fr. Richard Rohr?

October 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Can I Trust?, Dan Burke, Featured


Numerous readers have asked, “Can I trust Fr. Richard Rohr?” As long time subscribers to Catholic Spiritual Direction know, we prefer to focus on the positive side of spirituality and to leave the apologetics and correction of false and otherwise dangerous teachings to those who are called to that emphasis. Even so, we regularly get emails asking if a particular author is trustworthy or... Read More

CSD Book Club – Announcing our Next Book

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach


Imitation of Christ If you read Journal of a Soul with us, you are well aware of the impact Imitation of Christ had on Blessed Pope John XXIII. In 1898, as part of his Daily Rule, he wrote: Read carefully and thoughtfully a whole chapter, or at least a part of one, of the very devout Latin book of Thomas a’ Kempis. This was to be done in addition to his other daily spiritual reading. Pope John XXIII... Read More

CSD Book Club – Journal of a Soul (Week 8 of 12)

October 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Book Club, Vicki Burbach


On Suffering   I think the Lord Jesus has in store for me, before I die, for my complete mortification and purification and in order to admit me to his everlasting joy, some great suffering and affliction of body and spirit. Well, I accept everything and with all my heart, if it is for his glory and the good of my soul and for the souls of my dear spiritual children. I fear my weakness in bearing... Read More

Why not integrate teachings of other religions with Catholic spirituality?

LuMaxArt_Golden_Family_With_World_Religions_ copy

Dear Father John, the Church has clearly taught that there is truth and good in other religions – so why then is it a problem to integrate the truths found in prayer traditions outside of Christianity with Christian prayer methods? This is a great question, especially for today’s world, in which religious tolerance is spoken about by so many different groups (though not all) as a universal value.... Read More

I am concerned about avoiding New Age influence in my spiritual reading program, can you help?

Lama_Meditation_1 By Van Derek (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons copy

Dear Dan, I was inspired by Fr. John’s post on spiritual reading a while back. A friend has recommended “The Cloud of Unknowing” to me but I am worried about slipping into Catholic books that claim to be Catholic but that promote New Age thought through centering prayer and mixing Catholic prayer with non-Christian prayer teachings. Anyway, I wanted to get your advice on where I... Read More

The Vatican on Christian Meditation and Centering Prayer

Though a complete understanding of this document requires education in Church history and mystical and ascetic theology – on its face it clearly addresses many current popular teachings on prayer that should be of concern to every Catholic who seriously desires to deepen their understanding of what it means to truly engage with God. This document is a profound summary of true Christ-centered... Read More

Is there anything good about Centering Prayer?

Dear Dan, I know that you are not a fan of Centering Prayer. I did read the document you posted from the Vatican and I think I see the problems, at least from the standpoint of what I was taught. Still, isn’t there some good in centering prayer? For instance, isn’t it good to sit still, breathe slowly so you can relax etc.? I have experienced a great deal of good from this practice and... Read More

My spiritual director has recommended centering prayer, what should I do?

Dear Dan, I have recently sought the guidance of a Spiritual director which I would say was greatly influenced by your and Fr. John’s suggestions. My concern is that my Spiritual Director has suggested Centering Prayer. I’d appreciate it if you can share your thoughts on that. Thanks. First things first – I am greatly encouraged by your steps toward deepening your faith through spiritual... Read More

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