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A glimpse of Reality...

“The Lord is our protector and glorious king, blessing us with the kindness and honor.”

‒ Ps. 84:11

My heart is filled with gratitude for all the goodness the Lord has shown me this past Christmas season. As usual, this time of the year is always a busy time, but in spite of all the busyness, I was able to maintain a calm attitude, without feeling harassed and in the end, He gave me a most precious gift, which capped my Christmas celebration with much solemnity and upliftment of spirit...

During our last Liturgical Ministry meeting, plans for the Christmas celebration in Church were discussed with the Coro de San Antonio assisting at the liturgy. Just talking about it, gave me a strong desire to be there, to be uplifted by the beautiful music, the drama enacted during the gospel, and the general ambience of the elegantly decorated church. However, ever since we had simultaneous Masses in all the village parks some four years ago, I have not had the opportunity to attend the Christmas Eve Mass at the Santuario because I had duties at our park Mass. So, I just accepted the fact that this year I will be at the park again.

The day before Christmas Eve, I got a call from the parish office that I was to be one of those who will be offering the gifts at Mass in the Church, in place of the Chairman of the Liturgical Ministry who was abroad. I was so overwhelmed that such an honor would be given to me . . . even just as a substitute for someone. It so happened, also, that I didn’t have to be at the park this year, as my duty as an organist was taken over by a professional group. I could almost see the hand of the Lord in it. So, without event thinking of upsetting some family plans, I readily accepted. The next evening I was there early with a son and we had the luxury of choosing where to seat. We were very comfortable during the beautiful concert before the Mass and really enjoyed being just a “part of the audience.” I felt a universal oneness with the whole congregation and the angels and saints in heaven, worshipping the Christ Child who came to save us.

I went home with a heart filled with a tremendous joy with the last song still ringing in my ears . . . “Ang pasko ay sumapit . . . At magmula ngayon kahit hindi pasko ay magbigayan.”

Thank you Lord!

 

 

"If I am in your truth, God, keep me there. If I am not, God, put me there."

‒ St. Joan of Arc

 

 

A glimpse of Reality...

“Make Yahweh your joy and He will give you your heart’s desire.”

‒ Ps. 37:4

I’ve always felt a little guilty about not doing enough for the spiritual welfare of our people in the farm. Because it is not very accessible through ordinary means of transportation. I hardly go there myself. However, about twice a year, during Easter and Christmas holidays, we spend about four days there and try very hard to bring a priest to celebrate and perform the rituals of the Church for such occasions. It was always a problem to find priests who could speak Tagalog during these very busy season and we ended up translating the homilies and delivering them myself, a task I felt I was not very capable of.

This year-end, we went again and were fortunate to have an American priest who could speak Tagalog quite well and say the Mass in the vernacular. Because of this, many people were able to go to confessions. But more than this, the catechist told me that there were about twenty children who had completed their instructions for First Communion but because there was no priest available, they were still waiting to receive their First Communion. I felt so happy with this hit of good news and so all of them went to confession, too. At Mass the next day, we did a special celebration for the first communicants and I felt so much joy that the Lord has given me the opportunity to participate in this joyous event. Thank you, Lord for the consolation of your grace.

 

 

When James Finley was a young monk at the monastery of Gethsemane, he shared with Thomas Merton (who was his spiritual director) his frustration at his seemingly inept efforts to experience God’s presence. Merton responded: “How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.” Not that we don’t need to continue to seek God, but by our own efforts alone we cannot achieve spiritual maturity. We must bring ourselves to the Light where God’s grace seasons us into juicy, sweet, flavorful ripeness.

Thomas Merton

A glimpse of Reality...

“Hannah, why are you crying? . . . Why are you so sad? Am I not worth to you more than ten sons?”

 1 Sam 1:8

In my chosen vocation as a “man of God”, Christmas time is one of the loneliest seasons of the year. Although it is a very busy season for me, at the end of all the liturgical celebration, when all the people have gone home to enjoy noche buena with their families, I feel the overwhelming loneliness of being alone in my room. Sometimes, prayer helps . . . even being tired does, too. But, many time, the feeling just stays on and on for days.

This season was no exception, and not making any effort at dispelling the sadness in my heart, I just allowed myself to wallow in my loneliness. After many days, the readings in the Books of Samuel came about and the above verse spoke so loudly to me: “Why are you sad? Am I not worth to you more than all your desires for intimacy and to enjoy the company of others?” This shook me out of my lethargy and at once I realized that I was getting too attached to the wrong things and that, I am forgetting the most important of all intimacies . . . that of being one with Jesus.

Lord, thank you for your patience in reminding me where my heart should be at all times.

“Joy comes from the holiness of discovering ourselves, of finding our true likeness to God."

‒ John Main

Door to Silence

 

A glimpse of Reality...

“Be still and know that I am God.”

‒ Ps. 46:10

At our “Leisure with God” retreat recently, we spent most of the time in silence both alone and in community. It was during this time that the words of the psalm became an awesome experience. Because of the silence we observed at prayer and out of it, the reservoir of peace that was built up by the quiet periods carried over even when it was “talking time”. God’s presence was so real it was almost palpable.

Lord, thank you for making me “see and taste” your goodness by showing me the true value of silence.

In the beginning was the Word; the Word was in God's presence, and the Word was God. He was present to God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be. Whatever came to be in him, found life, life for the light of human beings. The light shines on in darkness, the darkness did not overcome it.

The real light which gives life to every person was coming into the world.

He was in the world, and through him the world was made, yet the world did not know who he was. To his own he came, yet his own did not accept him. Any who did accept him he empowered to become children of God.

These are they who believe in his name -- who were begotten not by blood, nor by carnal desire, nor by anyone's willing it, but by God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we have seen his glory the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love. [John 1:1-14]

. . . The joy of Christmas is the intuition that all limitations to growth into higher states of consciousness have been overcome. The divine light cuts across all darkness, prejudice, preconceived ideas, prepackaged values, false expectations, phonyness and hyprocrisy. It presents us with the truth. To act out of the truth is to make Christ grow not only in ourselves, but in others. Thus, the humdrum duties and events of daily life become sacramental, shot through with eternal implications. This is what we celebrate in the liturgy. The kairos, "the appointed time," is now. According to Paul, "Now is the time of salvation," that is, now is the time when the whole of the divine mercy is available. Now is the time to risk further growth. To go on growing is to be at the cutting edge of human evolution and of the spiritual journey. The divine action may turn our lives upside-down; it may call us into various forms of service. Readiness for any eventuality is the attitude of one who has entered into the freedom of the Gospel. Commitment to the new world that Christ is creating -- the new corporate personality of redeemed humanity -- requires flexibility and detachment, the readiness to go anywhere or nowhere, to live or to die, to rest or to work, to be sick or to be well, to take up one service and to put down another. Everything is important when one is opening to Christ-consciousness. This awareness transforms our worldly concepts of security into the security of accepting, for love of God, an unknown future. The greatest safety is to take that risk. Everything else is dangerous.

The light of Christmas is an explosion of insight changing our whole idea of God. Our childish ways of thinking of God are left behind. As we turn our enchanted gaze toward the Babe in the crib, our inmost being opens to the new consciousness that the Babe has brought into the world.

— From "The Mystery of Christ, The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience"

 

"... [L]et us face the difficulties of the coming year with great confidence and hope. Like the Magi, you may go through a lot of troubles in traveling and getting where you want to go, but once you're there, then the joy that they experienced, it will also be [in] us, no matter what the difficulties and hazards ...
 

I'll always be thinking of you and inviting you into the presence of the Spirit that comes to each of us as a free gift and a true security and the true love and the true freedom ... "

 

Thomas Keating, December 21, 2016


Just before Christmas, Fr. Thomas Keating recorded this message to the worldwide community of Contemplative Outreach practitioners and volunteers. Fr. Thomas speaks about the contemplative dimension of Christmas and the symbolism of the Magi at the Feast of Epiphany (Manifestation), and gives a blessing of encouragement for the new year. The audio recording is a little more than 10 minutes and can be found here.
 

LUMEN DIVINA

 

Please join us in a beautiful, prayerful, participatory experience of this season of Light. This online course will include:

... Video selections with Fr. Thomas Keating on Mary as the archetype of consent
... Lectio Divina with Scripture and various contemplative voices
... Musica Divina with sacred musical selections
... Visio Divina with Mary-themed images from Nicholas Roerich

Lumen Divina, An Advent Online Retreat in partnership with Spirituality & Practice
Friday Nov 25 - Friday Dec 23

 CLICK HERE

“The movement of centering prayer is toward the integration of silence and activity, activity not based on a naďve confidence in ourselves, but rather as a response to the presence and action of the Spirit that is more and more the guiding light in all our activities.

— Thomas Keating

Most people have never actually met themselves. At every moment, all our lives long, we identify with our thoughts, our self-image, or our feelings. We have to find a way to get behind this view of ourselves to discover the face we had before we were born. We must discover who we are in God, who we’ve always been—long before we did anything right or anything wrong. This is the first goal of contemplation.

Imagine you are sitting on the bank of a river. Boats and ships—thoughts, feelings, and sensations—are sailing past. While the stream flows by your inner eye, name each of these vessels. For example, one of the boats could be called “my anxiety about tomorrow.” Or along comes the ship “objections to my husband” or the boat “I don’t do that well.” Every judgment that you pass is one of those boats. Take the time to give each one of them a name, and then let them move on down the river.

This can be a difficult exercise because you’re used to jumping aboard the boats—your thoughts—immediately. As soon as you own a boat and identify with it, it picks up energy. This is a practice in un-possessing, detaching, letting go. With every idea, with every image that comes into your head, say, “No, I’m not that; I don’t need that; that’s not me.”

Sometimes, a boat turns around and heads back upstream to demand your attention again. Habitual thoughts are hard to not be hooked by. Sometimes you feel the need to torpedo your boats. But don’t attack them. Don’t hate them or condemn them. This is also an exercise in nonviolence. The point is to recognize your thoughts, which are not you, and to say, “That’s not necessary; I don’t need that.” But do it very amiably. If you learn to handle your own soul tenderly and lovingly, you’ll be able to carry this same loving wisdom out into the world.

— Richard Rohr

HOW TO “MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF GOD”

By Joan Chittister, OSB

It was a Native American chief who taught me the meaning of Christmas at a conference where interfaith leaders were gathered to discuss the relationship of religion to race.

Into the midst of the theological meanderings of those of us who wanted to write another paper, have another meeting, take another workshop to combat racism, the Chief brought the message of Isaiah again. He stood up slowly, folded his hands quietly in front of him, looked out over our heads and said softly, “I have spent my life teaching our children to say ‘thank you.’ Thank you for the grass. Thank you for the rain. Thank you for the stranger. Thank you for all the people of the world. I think that if we learn to say ‘thank you’ for everything, we will come to realize its value, to respect it, to see it as sacred.”

It was a simple speech but it had a kind of cataclysmic effect on my soul. It raised the specter of Isaiah in me all over again. It made me think newly about what the scriptures are talking about when they tell us to “make straight the way of God.” I suddenly realized that Christmas is time to shout “thank you.”

Christmas is the commitment to life made incarnate. It is the call to see God everywhere and especially in those places we would not expect to find glory and grace. It is the call to exult in life.

Christmas is the obligation to see that everything leads us directly to God, to realize that there is no one, nothing on earth that is not the way to God for me. I knew instantly that the moment we begin to really celebrate Christmas, to look at everyone and everything as a revelation of God, to say “thank you” for them, that racism would be over, war would be no more, world hunger would disappear, everything would be gift, everyone would be sacred.

Indeed, it is simple but oh, so clear: All we have to do to “make straight the way of God” is to say “thank you,” to learn to live intensely, to have a zeal for life, to develop a passion for life.

NEW GOVERNING BOARD IN CO LTD.

An announcement was made in the Dec. Newsletter of CO Ltd. re the transition from the former Circle of Service to a new Governing Board “on behalf of all the individuals and all the groups that make up the Contemplative Outreach community. The Board is now separate from Management but collaborates closely with it through Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, whose title is now Executive Director.” Its functions include: setting the overall direction for CO, approving the budget, and hiring/managing the Executive Director. Like most non-profit boards, it is not involved in daily operations.

Fr. Carl Arico, a member of the CO leadership team for many, many years stepped down from his position, believing in the wisdom of passing on the torch to other volunteers who are willing to serve the organization.

The new members of the Governing Board are Mary Dwyer (Chairperson), Nick Cole, Lois Snowden, Tom Smith, Thomas Hall, Fr. Gilbert Walker and Kathy Di Fede. As a primary oversight group, the Board embodies the vision and mission of CO and upholds the spiritual and service aspects of CO in harmony with the CO Vision, Theological and Administrative Principles.

“You came from God and you will return to God. Your deepest DNA is clearly divine. What else did we mean when we said “God created all things”? Yet “creationists” are often the last ones to believe in the direct implications of a Creator God. It is saying that you are already spiritual beings, and the only concern and question is “How do I become human?” I believe that’s why Jesus came as a human being instead of an apparition in the sky. He didn’t come to teach us how to go to heaven but how to be a human being here on this earth—which is the creation of heaven now. And many believers say, “If now, surely then, too!” If God loves me in this imperfect state now, why would he/she change his or her mind later?

— Richard Rohr

 

 

THE PRACTICE OF VISIO DIVINA: SEEING WITH THE EYE OF THE HEART

By Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler

It may be said that the spiritual journey is a conversion of heart, which can be inspired and supported by art, beauty and quiet joy in the ordinariness of everyday life.

Over the last year as part of our online course series with our partner, Spirituality & Practice, Contemplative Outreach has been exploring the use of art in the contemplative journey through the practice of Visio Divina. Visio Divina facilitates a relationship with an image or subject, patiently being with it, receptive in mind and heart, perhaps even in dialogue with it. In stillness, we allow the image to reach beyond the intellect and into the unconscious level of our being, a place that can't be accessed directly. In wonder, we are invited to look at every aspect of an image and ponder it as an encounter with God. It is a way of seeing an aspect of ourselves in God at the non-verbal, heart level. The canvas then becomes alive with personal meaning meant just for us. This is the same movement of the Spirit we can experience with Lectio Divina and Scripture.

For our 2014 Lenten online retreat, we used the stain glass artwork The Stations of the Cross by Frederick Franck. An artist and mystic, Franck was founder of Pacem in Terris in Warwick, NY, and author of several books, most notably the Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation. Seeing/drawing was his form of meditation. This practice brought him in direct contact with the Divine within, and trained his artist eye to see God manifested in his surroundings. “[B]efore I
start drawing, it often happens that suddenly the utter poignancy of a cloud sailing through the sky, of a child with its balloon-treasure moves me … and I hear myself say, ‘Oh God’, I, who when asked, ‘Do you believe in God?’ am most apt to shrug: ‘I believe in nothing but God!’” Retreat participants were guided in practice and encouraged to develop their own capacity for Visio Divina, seeing God in all things.

In our Advent 2014 online retreat, we incorporated the art of Fra Angelico, and began with the well-known painting, Annunciation from the Cortona Altarpiece. Fra Angelico lived a devout and ascetic life and all of his paintings were said to be divinely inspired. Humble works in simple colors, his paintings came out of deep prayer and many exude this quality. The intentions of his paintings were to bring an incident in the life of Jesus Christ into the presence of the viewer for their reflection and prayerful consideration. We continued the practice of Image Gazing, which starts by taking in the entire composition and registering what it depicts. As we continue to gaze, we begin to reflect on the deeper meanings that present themselves. For example, we may wonder how it demonstrates consent to the will of God. Then we gaze at each of the component parts and see beyond seeing how each part contributes to the whole. As we ponder the image and observe every detail we may place ourselves in the scene and see and feel from this perspective. We observe our responses. A prayer or an inspiration may arise; we may receive a glimmer of how consent manifests and how the Spirit of God presents opportunities for us to deepen our relationship with ourselves, others and God. The possible messages are endless and very individual — there is no right or wrong way of seeing.

During our six week 2015 Lenten online retreat we practiced Visio Divina with the collection of William Congdon, who painted over 200 crucifixion images. Congdon once said, “[N]ow, without looking for inspiration elsewhere, I always paint the Crucifix, because in it lies everything I have seen and lived so far … and everything [I] shall ever see in the future; sum of yesterday and prophet of tomorrow; death and Resurrection.”

Fr. Thomas teaches that the purpose of Lent is the purification of the unconscious. Congdon, an Abstract Expressionist and a contemporary of Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, was primarily interested in exploring the unconscious, which was the impetus for his art until his conversion to Catholicism in the 1950’s. After spending time in Assisi and Subiaco, Italy, he was baptized, and as he was transformed, his artwork transformed. Many of his images emerged from the silence of the monastery where he spent time to find himself. In so doing, he found Christ and thus devoted himself to painting the crucifixion as a path deeper into himself, and himself in God, in search of inner balance and harmony.

Each of these three artists expressed their deep relationship with the Divine, creating from a deeply interior, meditative place within, where each in their own way encountered God.

Here are a few more suggestions if you would like to practice Visio Divina:

Take the time to gaze at an image and allow it to speak to you, first on the level of what is seen with the eyes of your rational mind, the literal details of the image. When you are ready, allow those sights and thoughts to pass by, making space for the inner eye of the heart to open and interact with the image.

You may wish to sketch the image and experience your own non-verbal response. You do not have to be an artist to do this—you simply follow the lines as you see them, tracing them on paper. Or, you may trace the image with your finger, or both.

Be patient. Stay with your experience. Settle in and rest in the presence of the image. See beyond seeing and allow the image to speak its truth to you. You may also journal, and/or use these questions to inspire your reflections: How does this image inform or illume your relationship with God? How does it speak to you of your spiritual journey now? How does this experience support your willingness to be opened, to be healed?

In order to see with this inner eye we need to take time away from the pressure of busyness and the need for stimulation. Spiritual practice is our daily pilgrimage into silence and stillness. Over time, we can be at rest, at ease within ourselves within the present moment, in stillness. Over the next few days, practice stillness within the routines of daily life. If you feel drawn to Visio Divina, then give some time to this practice of seeing with the eye of the heart.

— From CO News, June, 2015

Powerlessness is our greatest treasure. Don't try to get rid of it. Everything in us wants us to get rid of it. Grace is sufficient for you, but not something you can understand. To be in too big a hurry to get over our difficulties is a mistake because you don't know how valuable they are from God's perspective, for without them you might never be transformed as deeply and as thoroughly.....

Thomas Keating

FATHER THOMAS: GENTLY WAITING FOR THE BEGINNING

By Steven Standiford

For most of the last 30 years, our abba, Father Thomas, has been an indefatigable whirlwind jetting around the world teaching, leading retreats, writing books and preaching the good news of Centering Prayer. He racked up so many frequent flyer miles traveling to far-flung places like the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and South Korea that he could rest in the executive lounge to wait for his flights. These days, however, Thomas is finally allowing himself to return to the more secluded monastic life he once knew. He concedes that at 92-years-old he doesn’t have the energy he used to. But he gets around pretty well with his walker at his home in the infirmary at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. I’m on a mini retreat at Snowmass and Father Thomas has kindly invited me to visit.

It is late September. The cloudless western sky is cobalt blue and a brilliant array of fluttering golden Aspens lights up the steep mountain slopes. The fall days are sunny and warm but the nights are chilly – a reminder that winter comes early to the Colorado Rockies.

When I first spot Father Thomas, he is literally hopping out of an SUV. He explains that his physical therapist taught him the best way to leverage himself out of a chair was to suddenly “pop up” – sort of like a heavyweight lifter doing a clean and jerk. In his civilian clothes – a plaid shirt, gray work pants, and Patagonia down vest -- Thomas looks more like one of the cattle ranchers in the valley than he does a Trappist monk. And, of course, he is wearing his ever-present black knit cap to keep his head warm and his thoughts flowing.

When we first meet, he seems quite energized -- having just returned with other monks from a neighbor’s house to watch Pope Francis on TV. (The monks still don’t have newfangled gadgets like a flat screen TV.) He marvels that the Pope publicly cited Dorothy Day and fellow Trappist, Thomas Merton, as examples for the rest of the world to follow

“How are you filling your days?” I ask.

“At my age I have to spend most of my time just following doctors orders,” he kids. “In addition to my personal physician, I have a physical therapist and four specialists. Everybody is a specialist these days,” he laughs.

I had hoped to take Thomas out to lunch, forgetting that he is not allowed to, now that he is back at St. Benedict’s. Except for medical care at the Aspen hospital, he almost never ventures out from the monastery. The one exception was his trip three years ago to Boston to attend a conference with his dear friends and fellow mystics, the Dalai Lama and Brother David Steindl-Rast.

In addition to a lack of energy and the monastery rules, there is another reason Thomas does not dine out. As he explained, he has difficulty swallowing -- so most of his food is either finely chopped, pureed, or liquid. I did manage to sneak him a few almond cookies from a fancy New York bakery. Technically they weren’t on his plan, but at 92, Thomas has become younger and more flexible – and occasionally bends the rules.

Depending on his strength, Thomas still spends time each day reading and writing. Books line the top of the desk in his room. And the gazebo-like solarium across the hall is filled with all kinds of popular magazines, scholarly journals and Christian and non-Christian periodicals. One disappointment is that he doesn’t have the energy to participate in regular worship with the rest of the community. For several years he could make his way to the chapel and slip into Mass just for communion -- but now even that is too draining. As Thomas explained “I can’t really go down to communion anymore because I may not have the energy to get back!” (Fortunately, one of the younger monks serves communion in the infirmary after Mass each day.)

During our visit, Thomas did solve one mystery. For over two decades I have heard him often say that, “the minimum time recommended for Centering Prayer is twenty minutes, two times a day.” But I never heard Thomas share what his own practice was. The answer is that along with his doctor’s visits, physical therapy and work with Contemplative Outreach, he sets aside three to four hours a day for silent prayer. (I wondered if this might be a gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to double my own daily Centering Prayer practice.)

We reminisced about Chrysalis House, the lay contemplative community in Warwick, New York that Thomas nurtured in the 1980s and early 1990s -- and remembered fondly Mary Mrozowski, the “Amma” of the house who died suddenly in 1993. For a while we sat transfixed listening to David Frenette’s gentle teachings on his DVD about spiritual transformation through Centering Prayer that Thomas had not seen before. After viewing the first half of the video, Thomas was so moved he called it a “great treasure” and offered suggestions about how to make David’s teaching more widely available to advanced practitioners.

I asked Thomas if I could come again to visit next April. “Sure,” he said with a broad smile and a chuckle, “but I may be dead by then!”

“Then I will pray for you to have as vigorous health as possible,” I offered.

“Well,” Thomas said, becoming more reflective, “it would be better to pray that God’s will be done.” He paused a moment and then added, “after all, I don’t want to overstay my welcome here on God’s earth.” We sat silently for a few moments longer in the late afternoon sunlight. Thomas continued slowly, “as the Buddhists say, everything is temporary. And as we believe, everything is an expression of the Divine. " Smiling broadly, he concluded, “I’m hoping to go back to the Divine, whatever that is.”

I wanted to stay longer, to drink in this sweet passing moment, but Thomas had graciously given me an hour and a half and I didn’t want him to deplete his limited energy any further. We both stood. He opened his long arms and huge hands to give me a fatherly hug good-bye. Thomas has never been a touchy-feely sort but we lingered a moment in a warm embrace. Perhaps he sensed my need for a hug.

As we parted, it struck me as remarkable that this man -- who endured a lonely childhood under a stern, demanding father and a withdrawn, sickly mother – has become such a warm, loving father to so many of us around the world. As I drove out along the gravel road back to Rte. 82, I wondered if I would ever see Thomas again. It had been a perfect, beautiful, warm fall day. But the temperature was dropping and winter comes early in the Rockies.

Steve Standiford, a psychotherapist practicing in Manhattan and Westchester County, New York.

Taken from CO-e News, Jan. 2016

THE BENEFITS OF CENTERING PRAYER

Centering Prayer is a receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.

Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer - verbal, mental or affective prayer - into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Christ.

To watch on YouTube, please click here.

Consenting to God as God Is

This book collects the intimate talks and daily presentations made by Thomas Keating to people who have been practicing Centering Prayer for several years, have some experience of the spiritual journey and especially to those engaged in some form of contemplative service. $15 USD. Click here.

The Will of Divine Love

 

Kess Frey

This book looks at the process of spiritual evolution in created reality. It also looks at Centering Prayer and other transformative spiritual practices – Welcoming Prayer, forgiveness practice and creative self-expression – that unload the unconscious and help us to enter the “promised land’ and the inner wealth of our divine inheritance as souls created in God’s image and likeness. $25 USD. Click here.

 

Silence & Solitude: Wherein Wisdom Dwells

Part of the Contemplative Life Program (CLP), this 97-page booklet focuses on the practice and disposition of silence and solitude. Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina feature prominently in the practices of this 40-day mini-retreat, which includes beautiful images, brief inspirational readings and a suggested daily practice. Sections of the booklet include prayer in secret; dimensions of silence; places of solitude; thoughts in solitude; and a day of silence and solitude, which provides a format for your own one-day retreat at home. Booklet or PDF version on sale for $10 USD. Click here.

 

Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ series with Thomas Keating

all products in all formats:

DVDs with guidebook & reflections cards (with English
   & Spanish subtitles) $50 USD.
English digital version $25 USD
Spanish digital version $25 USD
CD with reflection booklet $20 USD. Mp3 version $12 USD
Guidebook $20 USD; PDF version $5 USD
Companion book $12 USD; PDF version $8 USD

 

 

Gift of Life: Death & Dying, Life & Living series with Thomas Keating

all products in all formats:

DVDs with guidebook (with English & Spanish subtitles) $50 USD
English digital version $25 USD
Spanish digital version $25 USD
CD with reflection booklet $20 USD Mp3 version $12 USD
Guidebook $12 USD; PDF version $8 USD
Companion book $12 USD; PDF version $8 USD

Digital downloads now available for many products. Get instant fulfillment with no shipping costs. Search in the online store under Media>Digital Download

 

In Centering Prayer … little by little, we enter into prayer
without intentionality except to consent
… and consent becomes surrender
… and surrender becomes total receptivity
… and, as the process continues,
total receptivity becomes effortless, peaceful.
… It is free and has nothing to attain, to get, or desire
… So, no thinking, no reflection, no desire,
no words, no thing
… just receptivity and consent.

Thomas Keating, ‘Centering Prayer’ segment, Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ

VISION / MISSION


Fr. Thomas Keating

Fr. Thomas Keating

Fr. William Meninger

Fr. William Meninger

Fr. Basil Pennington

Fr. Basil Pennington

Vision Statement

Contemplative Outreach is a spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life through the practice of Centering Prayer. The contemplative dimension of the Gospel manifests itself in an ever-deepening union with the living Christ and the practical caring for others that flows from that relationship.

The purpose of Contemplative Outreach is to support one another in the process of Divine transformation through the practice of Centering Prayer. We also encourage the practice of Lectio Divina, particularly its movement into Contemplative Prayer, which a regular and established practice of Centering Prayer facilitates.

In the Philippines, this mission is being carried out by Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP).  In addition to conducting workshops, retreats and other programs on Centering Prayer, COP guides and facilitates support groups for persons in the practice.  Since its establishment in 1990, the Outreach has shared Centering Prayer with men and women, religious and lay alike.  It has also sponsored recollections and retreats conducted by the founders themselves- Fr. Thomas Keating, Fr. William Meninger and the late Fr. Basil Pennington - all Trappist monks.  Commissioned presenters also conduct retreats and workshops.

Mission Statement

The primary purpose of Contemplative Outreach Philippines is to teach the method of Centering Prayer and to offer practices that bring its fruits into daily life.  The Outreach also teaches Lectio Divina (Sacred Reading), particularly its movement into contemplative prayer as facilitated by a regular practice of Centering Prayer.  The ministry offers workshops, retreats, and formation programs designed to present the richness of the Christian contemplative heritage in an updated and accessible format.

Contemplative Outreach Philippines is authorized to use the formats of Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., founder of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. In the United States and one of the three Trappist monks who developed Centering Prayer.  The Archdiocese of Manila recognizes the Outreach as the official organization authorized to teach Centering Prayer and its formation programs through its bona fide commissioned presenters.

Centering Prayer is a prayer of interior silence and alert receptivity to the Divine Indwelling, the center of one’s being.  Together with the daily practice of Lectio Divina, growth in Prayer awakens the spiritual level of one’s consciousness.  One’s will is cultivated to constantly and repeatedly consent to God’s presence and action as one becomes increasingly aware of them in day-to-day living.

History of Contemplative Outreach

Contemplative Outreach has its roots in the wish of three monks living at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts in the early 1970s. Inspired by the decree of Vatican II, the monks wished to develop a method of Christian contemplative prayer that was appealing and accessible to laypeople. With no idea that their wish would eventually result in an international organization, Fathers Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington embarked on an experiment. Today their experiment is called Contemplative Outreach.

As abbot of St. Joseph's Abbey, Fr. Keating attended a meeting in Rome in 1971. At the meeting, Pope Paul VI called on the members of the clergy to revive the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in the lives of both monastic and laypeople. Believing in the importance of this revival, Fr. Keating encouraged the monks at St. Joseph's to develop a method of Christian contemplative prayer with the same appeal and accessibility that Eastern meditation practices seemed to have for modern people. A monk at the abbey named William Meninger found the background for such a method in the anonymous fourteenth-century classic The Cloud of the Unknowing. Using this and other contemplative literature, Meninger developed a simple method of silent prayer he called The Prayer of the Cloud.

Meninger began to offer instruction on The Prayer of the Cloud to priests who came to the monastery for retreats. The prayer was well received and as word got out, more people wanted to learn the prayer, so Fr. Keating began to offer workshops to the lay community in Spencer. Another monk at the abbey, Basil Pennington, also began to teach The Prayer of the Cloud to priests and sisters at retreats away from St. Joseph's. At one retreat, someone suggested that the name of the prayer be changed to Centering Prayer, alluding to Thomas Merton's description of contemplative prayer as prayer that is "centered entirely on the presence of God...His will...His love...[and] Faith by which alone we can know the presence of God." From then on, the prayer was called Centering Prayer.

In 1983, Fr. Keating gave the first "intensive" Centering Prayer retreat at the Lama Foundation in San Cristobal, New Mexico. One of the participants of the retreat, Gustave Reininger, previously had met with Fr. Keating and a man named Edward Bednar to discuss starting a contemplative network. After their meeting, Bednar wrote a grant proposal, which he called Contemplative Outreach, and received funds to start parish-based programs in New York City that offered introductions to Centering Prayer. This marked the beginning of the Contemplative Outreach Centering Prayer Program and a milestone in Contemplative Outreach's birth as an organization.
Other participants of the retreat at the Lama Foundation also played a large part in the growth of Contemplative Outreach. In 1985, participants David Frenette and Mary Mrozowski, along with Bob Bartel, established a live-in community in the eastern United States called Chrysalis House. For 11 years, Chrysalis House provided a consistent place to hold Centering Prayer workshops and retreats. Many Centering Prayer practitioners and teachers who now carry on the work of Contemplative Outreach were trained and inspired at Chrysalis House.

In 1986, the three monks' experiment was incorporated as Contemplative Outreach, LTD., and the first official board of directors was named. Fr. Keating served as the first president, Fr. Carl Arico as vice president, Gustave Reininger as treasurer, and Mary Mrozowski and Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler as directors. At first, the organization was run from Gail Fitzpatirick-Hopler's dining room table. After several necessary expansions, the network's international headquarters now offices in 2000 square feet of space in downtown Butler, New Jersey with the help of seven full-time employees, two part-time employees, five volunteers, and, of course, the continued support and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  ̶  From Contemplative Outreach E-News, Oct. 2009

 

“Freedom is the capacity to do what is the appropriate thing to do in any given moment."

‒ Thomas Keating

 

FAQs on Centering Prayer

Four new FAQs on Centering Prayer have been posted to help discuss and answer various doubts or concerns about the prayer practice:

1. What is the overall aim or intention of Centering Prayer?
2. How is Centering Prayer different from meditation, especially Eastern meditation practices?
3. How is Centering Prayer rooted in the Christian tradition?
4. A response to then Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1989 “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.” This was written by Thomas Keating in response to questions about that letter and Centering Prayer.

See these questions and more in the FAQ section of the Contemplative Outreach website.

ABOUT THE PRAYER

The intent of Contemplative Outreach is to foster the process of transformation in Christ in one another through the practice of Centering Prayer.

 

A glimpse of Reality...

“Suddenly, looking around they no longer saw anyone with them, only Jesus.”

‒ Mk 9:8

There is the woman who always turns to me in her need. She has so many problems and I never turn my back on her whenever she comes for help. The one thing that makes me very uncomfortable with her is that she always gets herself in a mess and complicating matters a lot.

Yesterday, she called up and said she was coming to see me. Since then, I’ve had a million thoughts going through my mind as to what could it be this time. I did not like the feeling which her call evoked and in my discomfort turned to the Lord in today’s reading the words they saw only Jesus spoke to me . . . “Why don’t you try seeing Jesus in her.” As I pondered on this, I felt that it was the only thing I could do to ease my anxiety over her.

Thank you Lord, for teaching me the way to a peaceful heart.

 

 

“…This mystery of oneness enables us to emerge from the Eucharist with a refined inward eye, and invites us to perceive the mystery of Christ everywhere and in everything.”

‒ Thomas Keating

History of Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer was developed as a response to the Vatican II invitation to revive the contemplative teachings of early Christianity and present them in updated formats. In this way, the method of Centering Prayer is drawn from the ancient practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the traditional monastic practice of Lectio Divina and the practices described in the anonymous fourteenth century classic The Cloud of Unknowing and in the writings of Christian mystics such as John Cassian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton. Most importantly, Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

"...when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will repay you."

Matthew 6.6 (New American Bible)

In the 1970s, answering the call of Vatican II, three Trappist monks at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, Fathers William Meninger, Basil Pennington and Thomas Keating, looked to these ancient sources to develop a simple method of silent prayer for contemporary people. The prayer came to be known as Centering Prayer in reference to Thomas Merton's description of contemplative prayer as prayer that is "centered entirely on the presence of God." The monks offered Centering Prayer workshops and retreats to both clergy members and laypeople. Interest in the prayer spread, and shortly after the first intensive Centering Prayer retreat in 1983, the organization Contemplative Outreach was formed to support the growing network of Centering Prayer practitioners.

Today Centering Prayer is practiced by people all around the world, creating local and global networks of Christians in communion with Christ and each other and contributing to the renewal of the contemplative dimension of Christianity.

Taken from CO Website

A Meditation on Centering Prayer

We begin our prayer by disposing our body.  Let it be relaxed and calm, but inwardly alert.

The root of prayer is interior silence.  We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words.  But this is only one expression.  Deep prayer is the laying aside of thoughts.  It is the opening of mind and heart, body and feelings – our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond words, thoughts and emotions.  We do not resist them or suppress them.  We accept them as they are and go beyond them, not by effort, but by letting them all go by.

We open our awareness to the Ultimate Mystery whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing – closer than consciousness itself.  The Ultimate Mystery is the ground in which our being is rooted, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment.

We are totally present now, with the whole of our being, in complete openness, in deep prayer.  The past and future – time itself – are forgotten.

We are here in the presence of the Ultimate Mystery.  Like the air we breathe, this divine presence is all around us and within us, distinct from us, but never separate from us.  We may sense this Presence drawing us from within, as if touching our spirit and embracing it, or carrying us beyond ourselves into pure awareness.

We surrender to the attraction of interior silence, tranquillity, and peace.  We do not try to feel anything, reflect about anything.  Without effort, without trying, we sink into this Presence, letting everything else go by.  Let love alone speak the simple desire to be one with the Presence, to forget self, and to rest in the Ultimate Mystery.

This Presence is immense, yet so humble; awe-inspiring, yet so gentle; limitless, yet so intimate, tender and personal.  I know that I am known.  Everything in my life is transparent in this Presence.  It knows everything about me – all my weakness, brokenness, sinfulness – and still loves me infinitely.

This Presence is healing, strengthening, refreshing – just by its Presence.  It is nonjudgmental, self-giving, seeking no reward, boundless in compassion.  It is like coming home to a place I should never have left, to an awareness that was somehow always there, but which I did not recognize.

I cannot force this awareness, or bring it about.  A door opens within me, but from the other side.  I seem to have tasted before the mysterious sweetness of this enveloping, permeating Presence.  It is both emptiness and fullness at once.

We wait patiently; in silence, openness, and quiet attentiveness; motionless, within and without.  We surrender to the attraction to be still, to be loved, just to be.

Centering Prayer List

A Contemplative Living Community in the Christian Contemplative Tradition

CENTERINGPRAYER / A Contemplative Living Community in the Christian Contemplative Tradition, is an unmoderated ecumenical (Christian) mailing list grounded in the Christian contemplative heritage. The list members are committed to the renewal of the contemplative dimension of the gospel through the teaching and practice of Centering Prayer and LectioDivina as taught by Father Thomas Keating, OCSO and his worldwide organization called Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. It is dedicated to those who are BEGINNERS and would like a community to teach, encourage and support them in their practice.

The list was founded on March 7, 1994, in honor of Abbot Thomas Keating's birthday. Father Keating is our mentor, friend and inspiration.

We hope to be able to welcome you to our cyberspace community.

Currently we are presenting an introductory workshop on Centering Prayer.

Centering Prayer is patterned on the formula given by Jesus in Matthew 6:6

If you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

To subscribe to the CENTERINGPRAYER List please write to: Centeringprayer@listserve.com

CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH LOGO & MEANING

Contemplative Outreach Symbol

JOB’S REDEEMER – PATIENT WAITING

ALPHA AND OMEGA - Symbol of God-the beginning and the end.

THE CROSS - The symbol of our salvation.

  THE FLOWERS - Symbol of the abundance of life – the resurrection.

CIRCLE - Sign of ongoing process.

©2009 Website designed by Mon & Lynn Angeles
email us at cophil2009@yahoo.com

 

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