The Contemplative Life


Stillness at Home

 Seek God with a quiet heart in stillness at home and free from the World


Contemplative Life at Home


Contemplative life is available to all Christians. Make your home a sanctuary, your heart a cloister. Learn the ancient form of lectio divina. Reclaim your nous from the world—it is there in the Stillness at Home.  It is easier than you might think, in part because it is best to go slowly, but also because you have a great cloud of witnesses and the holy saints as your guide.  Here is one of the best, Saint John Cassian, from the AD 400s whose great book, Conferences answered all my questions about how should I live and why:

“While still living in the body we may manage in some degree to adapt ourselves to some likeness of that bliss which is promised hereafter to the saints, and that ‘God may be’ to us ‘all in all.'” Saint John Cassian (AD 360-433), Conferences, Conference 10, Chapter VI.

For most lay Christians how one lives at home enables, determines, and perfects that godly bliss.

By seeking God quietly and simply at home you will enter the contemplative life.

It is less about academic knowledge and more about how you live during your time at home.  Little by little you become free from the world’s distractions. The eye of your heart, the nous, is no longer bent toward the world and trapped in the world’s passions.  Your whole life reorients toward God.

This full Christian life was described by the early Christians, the Holy Church Fathers, and the Desert Fathers and Mothers. It was how they lived — each one according to their own gifts and circumstances.  It was the same ascetic life lived in many ways.  Likewise, your journey is unique to you. While everyone’s journey to dwell with God is different, there are common practices like the ancient form of lectio divina.  However, it is not your first step that begins the journey, but the soul at rest.

How do you enter that rest?  What is required for a contemplative life? What is its essence? Helping you find your path and practice within the traditional practices of the Latin west and Greek east is the purpose of Stillness at Home.  

Lectio Divina

Lectio divina (Latin for divine reading) is easy to do, takes a little time, and can produce profound reordering of mind and heart.

Lectio divina is pronounced:

LEK-si-oh dih-VEE-nuh

“His pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:2 

Daily Service/Divine Office

The Eastern Orthodox Daily Service and Roman Catholic Divine Office category has posts about rules of prayers for the day and night.

The early church prayed eight times during a 24 hour day because Psalm 118 states, “At midnight I arose, to give thanks to thee for the judgments of thy righteousness.” and in another verse, “Seven times in a day have I praised thee because of the judgments of thy righteousness.”

Here is a common example:

Vespers (sunset)
Compline (after-dinner) – also known as Apodeipnon
Vigils or Midnight Office (12:00am) – also known as Mesonyktikon

Orthros (sunrise) – also known as Matins
First Hour (6:00am)
Third Hour (9:00am)
Sixth Hour (12:00pm)
Ninth Hour (3:00pm)

Holy Church Fathers

The Holy Church Fathers category has posts about the writings of saints widely and for centuries treasured as fathers of the Church and the Christian life.

This section on the Holy Church Fathers could also be called the section on patristics (from the Greek word for father).

“[Apostle Paul’s call to holiness is not] to solitaries only, but to all that are in cities. [Does] the man who lives in the world have any advantage over the solitary, save only the living with a wife? In this point he has allowance, but in others none, but it is his duty to do all things equally with the solitary.” Saint Chrysostom.


Desert Fathers & Mothers

The Desert Fathers and Mothers category has posts about those early Christians who left the city to battle in the deserts.

They give us ample green grass on which to ruminate.

Egypt’s great contribution to the world was not the pyramids, it was Christian monasticism.

“Amma Syncletica said, ‘Imitate the publican, and you will not be condemned with the  Pharisee. Choose the meekness of Moses and you will find your heart which is a rock changed into a spring of water.'”

“A brother came to Scetis to visit Abba Moses and asked him for a word. The old man said to him, ‘Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything.'”

The Sayings of the Desert Fathers,” translated by Benedicta Ward, SLG, 1975.

Home Library &
Book Reviews

Those who seek God are great readers or desire to be.  A lifetime of reading is available for free online because most of the best books on the contemplative life were written prior to the 20th century.  If you want to read the great saints, holy church fathers, and desert fathers and mothers, most of your reading will be books written centuries ago.  But there are excellent modern writers on contemplative life. Modern Eastern Orthodox authors are a good source of modern authors following the earliest traditions.


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