• Mary van Balen

    • Mary van Balen is the author of four books, numerous articles, and has written the column, “Grace in the Moment” for over thirty years. Mary holds an MA in Theology and was a resident scholar at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical & Cultural Research. A public speaker, Mary conducts retreats and days of reflection on a variety of topics including journaling and spirituality. She is a spiritual director and a graduate of Shalem's Nurturing the Call: Spiritual Guidance Program. You can contact Mary through her website: maryvanbalen.com.

The Simple Act of Breathing

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen The liturgical feasts of Pentecost and the Holy Trinity focus my thoughts on the Holy Spirit. Of the biblical accounts of Pentecost, I’m always drawn to John’s, where Jesus appears to the disciples gathered in fear, greets them with “Peace be with you,” and imparts the Spirit to […]

June 06, 2019 by Mary van Balen 2 Comments
Categories: Contemplative Living. Tags: breath, breathing, Holy Spirit, Pentecost, spirit, and Trinity Sunday. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Drawing Us Forward

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen We are often afraid of the truth. Rather than experiencing it as a way to experiencing a deeper reality, we see it as something that up ends our world, threatens our sense of security, and even our sense of self. We have found a comfortable place to “fit in,” […]

April 04, 2019 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Contemplative Living, Contemplative Spirituality, and spiritual growth. Tags: Good Friday, Lent, Palm Sunday, and truth. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Lent is a Time to Listen

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen While reading some reflections by Richard Rohr on the presence of Christ in creation from the beginning, I was struck by the phrase “Christ-soaked world.” It brought to mind two Scripture readings from Paul used for the beginning of Lent: one from 2 Corinthians and the other from […]

Making Space, One Book at a Time

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Sometimes the simplest of chores become prayer. It’s about paying attention and being present to the moment. That’s what wisdom teachers have always said whether they were early Christian monks living in the Egyptian desert or a contemporary Buddhist monk like Thich Nhat Hanh; a Sufi poet like […]

February 02, 2019 by Mary van Balen 6 Comments
Categories: Contemplative Living, Contemplative Reading, and Contemplative Spirituality. Tags: books and Reading. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Hope in the New Year

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen I like to celebrate Christmas—all 12 days of the season. So, while discarded Christmas trees line neighborhood sidewalks, mine still shines with white lights and carefully chosen ornaments. By the time you read this, Epiphany will have come and gone, and my tree will be back in the […]

January 01, 2019 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Contemplative Living, Contemplative Reading, and Contemplative Spirituality. Tags: Christmas, hope, and Thurman. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Welcoming Christ, Welcoming Others

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Stepping out of the parking garage elevator and starting down the walkway to the office building, I stopped to look at the nativity scene that had been placed outside the large windows. All the faces were painted pink-white. Sure, that nativity was probably bought decades ago and spends most […]

December 12, 2018 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Community, Contemplation in Action, and Contemplative Living. Tags: Advent, bishops, Christmas, and racism. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Thomas Keating and Centering Prayer

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen I’m not sure when I began reading books by Thomas Merton. Probably late high school or early college. I’m also not sure how I discovered them. Though I was naturally drawn to contemplative prayer, the word was unfamiliar to me until Merton’s writings provided it. “Contemplative” was not […]

November 11, 2018 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Contemplative Spirituality and Prayer. Tags: centering prayer and Thomas Keating. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

A Place Where Grace Flows

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Have you read something that stays with you, popping into mind out of nowhere, bringing insight to the moment? Recently, I read Pure Act: The Uncommon Life of Robert Lax by Michael N. McGregor. Lax was a great American poet and close friend of Thomas Merton. I took heart […]

October 10, 2018 by Mary van Balen
Categories: Contemplative Living and Contemplative Spirituality. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.

Ordinary Life, Extraordinary Grace

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen Sometimes an ordinary event becomes an extraordinary grace. That happened to me recently, and I’m grateful. Horrible headlines, day after day, overwhelm. I couldn’t finish reading an article about the violence and abuse that drove Honduran families to risk everything and take a chance on making it to […]

Mr. Rogers: Restoring the World to Wholeness One Neighbor at a Time

Today’s post is by Mary van Balen When my oldest child was three, friends with a son about the same age asked how I liked Sesame Street. I admitted that neither I nor my daughter had seen it. We rarely turned on the television, but after hearing other young parents extolling the show’s merits, I […]

August 08, 2018 by Mary van Balen 1 Comment
Categories: Community, Contemplation in Action, and Contemplative Living. Tags: Mr. Rogers and tikkun olam. Formats: Article and Friday Blog. Interest Areas: Friday Blog.