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A glimpse of Reality...

“Sacrifice gives you no pleasure, burnt offering, you do not desire. Sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, a broken, contrite heart you never scorn.”

‒ Ps 51:16-17

Lent is almost coming to an end but I never felt I was doing enough by way of mortifications; like, giving up my favorite pastimes, food, etc., etc . . .

The words of the psalm spoke to me reminding me that self-inflicted pain and sufferings were not really what He wanted . . . “There is still an element of control there on your part by selecting what you want to offer to God. Just accepting with joy and gratitude everything that God allows to happen in your life is more pleasing to Him than anything you can think of.”

Thank you Lord, for letting me know what is most pleasing to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"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...

“On hearing this answer, the young man went away sad, for his possessions were many.”

‒ Mt. 19:22

We are on the verge of moving to my husband’s new assignment abroad. And so, ever since we knew of this move, I have been sorting out things and found that I have been holding on to so many that I “might make use of in the future”. There was a lot, enough to make an interesting garage sale. However, I had neither the inclination nor the energy to have one. So, I started giving away the things I didn’t use anymore. It was hard at first to part with some of them, but seeing how it made so many people happy, it made me happy, too.

The passage above talks of a sadness that the young man felt because he had so many possessions that he could not let go of. Because of my decision to let go, I have less clutter in the house. I know now what Jesus was talking about when he told the man to let go of his possessions because my having less has brought about a lightness and contentment that I had never felt before in my life.

Thank you Lord for showing me the Way.

 

 

 

 

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...

“I will lie down in peace and sleep comes at once, for You alone, Lord make me dwell in safety.”

 Ps. 4:8

Recently, I figured in an accident where the van we were riding fell off the road ten feet down into a creek. It was a miracle my sister and I and the driver came out of it alive. Although the vehicle was a total wreck, the worst injury we suffered was a hairline fracture in my sister’s right wrist. I suffered a few abrasions on my arms and legs and an overall ache in my body. But after a week, all my physical wounds were healed.

However, the fear would every now and then haunt me. But, when I stop to think about it and recall the details of what happened, I remember that even as we were falling, I did not panic. Deep in my heart I knew I would be safe. It must be a fruit of the Centering Prayer, a discipline I have been practicing for some time now.

Thank you Lord for Your healing love and mercy.

 

 

 

 

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

‒ John Main

Door to Silence

 

 

 

 

A glimpse of Reality...

“And Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead; as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”

‒ Lk 9:61

I had not fully recovered from a very debilitating illness I was down with for almost a month when I had to give a weekend retreat in Tagaytay. Feeling still weak, I was getting a bit anxious that I might not be able to last the whole three days. Not only that . . . my whole body was so “out of sync” that I already felt exhausted just thinking of everything I needed to do in preparation for it.

However, in my lectio the night before the retreat, the word “go” spoke to me. “Just go and do only what you can for it is I who will make things happen. All I need is your presence. You just stand there, open your mouth, and I will be the one to speak.” So, obediently I went, leaving my apprehensions behind. And as I stood there, I not only felt stronger, but everything flowed so effortlessly. The Holy Spirit’s action was so obvious even with the staff who did their duties with much love and harmony among themselves.

At the end of the last talk, one of the participants, a tiny lady who was seated in front, came up to me, gave me a hug and said, “All the while you were talking to us, I knew it was Jesus speaking”. Although I knew it was true, I was so amazed at how the Lord had affirmed in concrete terms what He had already told me the night before.

Thank you Lord, for your kindness and mercy in letting me know in no uncertain terms that it is You and Your action in me that make good things happen.

 

 

A glimpse of Reality...

“Then, Jesus called a little child in the midst of the disciples and said: ‘I assure you that unless you change and become like little children, you can not enter the kingdom of heaven.’”

‒ Mt 18:2

This passage brings to mind my two-year old grandchild who is so inclined towards spiritual things. She would watch a TV Mass with me, or the song prayer of the Divine Mercy on EWTN, and, very often, talks about “Papa Jesus” and “Mama Mary”. She has also learned to pray the “Hail Mary”, I guess, from her yaya. Every night, at about 8:00 PM, she would come to me and say, “Let’s pray the rosary already”. And so, whether I like it or not we “had to” pray. She would just sit there quietly, toying with the rosary I lent her and stay until the end. One time, I didn’t hear her call and when I noticed the time, I looked for her. And there she was, with her yaya, just seating patiently waiting for me.

In my lectio about the passage above, I could see in her what Jesus meant when He said that unless we become like this little one . . . unless we possess that attitude of waiting on Him with patience and trust, we can not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Thank You, Lord, for this little child whom You gave me to constantly remind me that “it is to such as this that the kingdom of God belongs.”

A glimpse of Reality...

“And he answered, ‘Only prayer can drive out this kind.’”

‒ Mk 9:29

I was on retreat in Tagaytay when I got word from my sister in Canada that my mother had suffered a severe heart attack and was not expected to live much longer. She had been ailing for years and was only kept alive by a dialysis machine. Although I was prepared for her passing away, I felt sad that I could not be with her when she breathed her last. So, I just “connected” myself with her in prayer. I even tried practicing the “Welcome Prayer” we had just learned and as I remained in deep prayer, I was amazed at the peace and calmness of my heart, it was almost like being in God’s embrace. I learned later on that it was exactly the time when she was in the troughs of death.

I got there just in time for the funeral. Being the eldest in the family, I felt it was my responsibility to re-establish relationships among us siblings, which was not so easy after having been neglected all these years. And, we tarried long enough to be able to do that before we separated with promises to keep in touch.

Now I’m back home with my own family and although there is a certain emptiness in my heart, the verse in Mark’s gospel tells me that it is only through prayer that the peace and joy in my life can be sustained.

Thank you Lord, for letting me feel your presence in my life and for teaching me the way to a peaceful heart.

(Fr. Thomas Keating talks about Lent as a time to look at unconscious dynamics that keep us from a deep relationship with God.

Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk at St. Benedict's monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, is a co-founder of the centering prayer movement. He recently spoke to Beliefnet producer Anne A. Simpkinson about the contemplative dimensions of the Lenten season.)

How can we make Lent a more contemplative time? And, if people are already practicing contemplative prayer, how can they deepen their practice?

Lent is meant to be a communal retreat for all Christians--at least those who observe Lent. The liturgy is an instruction in the mystical meaning of Lent as preparation for the Holy Week celebration of the mystery of redemption.

Redemption basically is about holistic health, if you want to translate it into modern parlance. What I suggest--based on the Christian tradition but not often preached--is that you can't enter into the fullness of the Pascal mystery of the redemption unless there is a radical transformation of motivation within you. So, on the first Sunday of Lent, you have Christ going into the desert and experiencing basic human instincts--security needs, power-control needs, and affection-esteem needs. The three temptations that [Christ faced in the desert] address each one of those issues.

If you accept the belief that baptism incorporates us in the mystical body of Christ, into the divine DNA, then you might say that the Holy Spirit is present in each of us, and thus we have the capacity for the fullness of redemption, of transformation.

Lent is a time to renew wherever we are in that process that I call the divine therapy. It's a time to look what our instinctual needs are, look at what the dynamics of our unconscious are. The church is hinting in the first Sunday of Lent that Lent is about temptation, or what we think is temptation. It's about the raw experience of human instincts, and how they unconsciously influence our conduct and decisions all our life long unless we keep working with them.

Lent is the time to expect temptation and [experience] afflictive emotions such as shame, humiliation, anger, greed, the time to look at how those instincts, which are developed in early childhood are frustrated--or gratified. See there's a hazard in self-exaltation if we get what we want, or depression if we don't get what we want. To work on those [emotions] during Lent, I think, is more effective than fasting or rituals.

With regard to prayers, I would suggest doing a little more meditation, add another half-hour period [of prayer], if that's possible. If it's not possible, be more alert to the false self and its [emotional] programs as they manifest in everyday life. This is a form of practicing the presence of God.

Do you think that giving up chocolate or meat or whatever is only a scratching of the surface of Lent?

Yes, but if you scratch the surface and find out there's something underneath, it's helpful that way. (Laughter) It seems to me that scratching the surface of the unconscious, allowing a few cracks to show, hastens the evacuation [of emotions tied to the false self], and is a good thing.

I imagine giving up chocolate would make us understand how powerless we are because of how hard it is to do. I think that's one of the benefits of something like that. If we can't give up chocolate for 40 days, how can we give up other things?

It's a good start. But the liturgy, or the church, whoever put that together in their mystical wisdom wasn't thinking about your taste buds. (Laughter) Lent is about more serious matters. The Church was thinking about how it feels to confront the emotional damage of a lifetime that is sitting unnoticed in your unconscious. Unless one does an extraordinary kind of deep psychotherapy, it might take five years on the couch [to uncover and work with such things]. But the practice of a non-conceptual meditation [centering prayer] initiates a process that may go on for a lifetime. Every Lent is an invitation to go deeper into that process.

Lent is--and I think the Eastern Orthodox Church would agree--a 40-day retreat that the church invites everybody to go through every year. If it is really well done, it would be comparable to an extended Vipassana (Buddhist meditation) retreat. It would have a transforming effect each time you did it.

It would be a real challenge to take on Lent this year because our lives are so pushed and pulled by so many external demands.

Perhaps more than ever today. [I think of] the intrusion of mass media. I don't know what that's going to do to people, what it's going to do to a generation without some balancing factor like Lent. Lent could become more and more crucial to spiritual practice. Even 10 days of retreat is barely enough to get in touch with oneself, and then you go back and you lose it in three or four days. That's why Contemplative Outreach started an immersion retreat, which lasts three weeks, and why we're considering retreats of greater length.

— By Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O ... Taken from Beliefnet webpage

The essence and heart of Centering Prayer is consenting to God’s presence and action within. It leads to contemplation and its continuing development.

The following qualities reveal how this consent deepens through daily practice.

1. Silence arises in consenting to God’s presence within. External silence supports this movement and leads to interior silence.

2. Solitude flows from interior silence. It disregards the endless conversation we have with ourselves and rests in the experience of God’s presence.

3. Solidarity is the growing awareness of our oneness with the whole human family and with all creation. It is sensitive to the ever-present inspirations of the Spirit, not only during the time of formal prayer, but in the details of everyday life.

4. Service is an expression of solidarity that is an inner call to serve God and others based on the realization that God is loving and serving them through us. In other words, God in us is serving God in others.

5. Stillness is what Jesus called “prayer in secret” (Matt. 6:6). This is the experience of God’s presence beyond rational concepts and preoccupation with our thoughts and desires. Interior silence tends to move into solitude and then into stillness. Stillness is the habitat of contemplative prayer. As Saint John of the Cross teaches, contemplation is the inflowing of God into our souls, and in the Christian tradition, is looked upon as pure gift. In actual fact, it is a gift that has already been given. Just by being human, one has this capacity. Many advanced mystics affirm that contemplation is the natural state of human consciousness, of which the Garden of Eden in Genesis is a symbol.

6. Simplicity is the growing capacity to live in the midst of the dualities of daily life in such a way as to integrate contemplation and action. Even in enormous activity, endless distraction, and immense concerns, we can remain in the divine presence. That presence invites us to enter the inmost center of our being where God dwells and where the Spirit inspires all our actions. Simplicity is the final integration and unification of all our human capabilities. It is the peak sustained by a whole mountain of interconnected and interdependent parts, in which each acts according to its particular nature in complete harmony with every other part. Simplicity arises out of the immense complexity of human nature as it is brought into unity through letting go of attachments and trusting in God.

The first step towards this simplicity is simplicity of lifestyle and the cultivation of interior silence through contemplation. Contemplative prayer and action under its influence gradually liberates us from attachments both conscious and unconscious that cause the loss of interior peace. It moderates the tumultuous emotions that can tear us apart and undermine the sense of being rooted in God and in the state of life we have embraced.

Contemplation is not the same as action, but they are not separate. They are distinct, but God is
as much in one as in the other. It is we who may not be present to one or the other. Simplicity is based on the truth about ourselves and the experience of God. It is the acceptance of everything just as it is. The Holy Spirit can then move us to change what needs to be changed or do what needs to be done.

7. Absolute Surrender is the total gift of self to God, a movement from divine union to unity. It marks the beginning of what Jesus calls “eternal life” as an abiding state of consciousness. Self-surrender through the practice of Centering Prayer is a traditional path to divine union. The movements of self-surrender and trust are the work of the Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit, and of the increasing joy of giving oneself completely to God.

Knowing the Ultimate Reality as Unmanifest is to lose oneself completely. This is the invitation of
the amazing texts in Saint John’s Gospel about our being in God and God living in us. (cf. Jn 17: 20-22).

Suffering is the consequence of the fact of living in an imperfect world. For that there is no cure. Sharing the divine life does not mean that created things are not good; it is just that they are incapable of fulfilling our boundless desire for perfect happiness. Nothing could be more down to earth or more humbling than this ever-present Presence, which just is. It does not have to prove itself. It does not need to acquire anything. It just is. Its desire is to make us equal to Itself in the expanding interior freedom that goes with that unity.

As we experience the dynamic unfolding of grace, our perspective changes in regard to God, the spiritual journey, and ourselves. In between these stages there may be delightful plateaus which are great blessings and have huge physical, mental, and spiritual effects. The dark nights are psychological states, and the darkest of all is the spiritual suffering that arises from being a creature, unable because of our weakness to handle the difficulties we encounter in this life, but going through them with invincible confidence in God’s infinite mercy.

— Taken from the Contemplative Outreach December 2017 Newsletter

A creative vision releases an enormous amount of energy
and can transform society beyond our wildest dreams.
Divine empowerment is present.
... The power of the stars is nothing compared to the energy
of a person whose will has been freed from the false-self system
and who is thus enabled to co-create the cosmos together
with God. God’s top priority is the creation of a world
in which the goods of the earth are equitably distributed,
where no one is forgotten or left out,
and where no one can rest until everyone has enough to eat,
the oppressed have been liberated, and justice and peace
are the norm among the nations and religions of the world.
Until then, even the joy of transforming union is incomplete.
The commitment to the spiritual journey is not a commitment to pure joy,
but to taking responsibility for the whole human family,
its needs and destiny. We are not our own; we belong to everyone else.
 

— Thomas Keating, The Mystery of Christ


Interior silence morphs into the presence of God.
Then silence is not just silence, emptiness, or nothingness.
It is rather the best preparation for divine union there is, because over time it reduces all the obstacles.
God's love is like the atmosphere that fills every empty space.

From “God is Love The Heart of All Creation.
A conversation with Thomas Keating and Carl J Arico”

 

TWO THOMASES TOGETHER

By Carl Arico

I had a dream. Walking along the road to Emmaus, I came upon two men arguing and discussing the events which had taken place in Jerusalem – the manifestation of Jesus Christ in all levels of existence. I introduced myself and asked if I could walk with them. I listened intently as they talked about the rest of the story — the contemplative journey — the call to be transformed and enter into unity consciousness with the divine. I was spellbound. Although I did not understand all they were saying, I felt myself intuitively responding to the truth of it all. They then invited me to join them at table. I sat dining on their words and the lively discussion. We soon entered silent prayer. When the prayer ended, I opened my eyes and they were gone. I knew something had changed within me; I felt renewed. As I looked around the room, I noticed they had left their business cards: one from Thomas Merton and one from Thomas Keating. They were companions on the journey and I had the privilege of experiencing them together.

Dreams do come true. For me, Thomas Keating created a conceptual framework for the Christian contemplative journey and Thomas Merton embodied the contemplative journey and reached out to connect with social challenges, allowing his heart to be touched by the realities of the world. Their lives and works are different sides of the same coin.

The two Thomases have been spiritual guides in my life. The challenge for me is how to take their teachings and make them a daily reality. Well, I found a way.

I have two daily readers on my Kindle – one with the teachings of Thomas Keating and one with the teachings of Thomas Merton. Each day I set aside time and I ask my spiritual guides, “Well my friends, what do you have for me today?” I then read and listen for words or phrases that catch my attention and I weave a spiritual quilt for the day.

For example, on October 4th, the feast of St Francis of Assisi, the Thomas Keating selection was from Intimacy with God on Centering Prayer. These words caught my attention: humble method, new light, self-surrender and trust. The Thomas Merton selection was a journal entry from 1965 and what caught my attention was, “it is given,” and “beginning to know what life really is.”

I pondered both sets of words for a time. What emerged as my spiritual quilt for the day was, “The humble method of Centering Prayer, which is a gift given, brings to me a new light to know for the first time what life really is when it opens to self-surrender and trust.”

This became my active insight prayer for the day. More needs to be said about these two great contemplatives of our time. I celebrate their spiritual companionship and teachings in my own being each day. I see Thomas Keating standing on the shoulders of Thomas Merton.

From “God is Love The Heart of All Creation. A conversation with Thomas Keating and Carl J Arico”

— Taken from the Contemplative Outreach December 2017 Newsletter

"We can’t prolong the battle of greed or domination with the weapons of destruction that we have now without serious damage to ourselves and the ecology and all the
other life on earth …

“The spiritual life as it’s been called until now is the most important thing there is to do in life … the healing of the human condition with its limitations and faults and openness to evil, as well as good. ... [T]he contemplative dimension of life is aimed at prayer and practice to further this capacity for transformation and to realize in the future somewhere the New Creation.”

Thomas Keating
 

Suggestions for Lent

The Transformation of Suffering: An Online, Self-Guided Retreat: This e-course explores the transformation of suffering as an evolutionary and transformative process in and through the divine/human experience — Christ in as, as us. The content includes excerpts from various Thomas Keating videos and writings, the wisdom of numerous contemplative witnesses and the practice of Visio Divina with the crucifix images of artist William Congdon. $65 USD. For more information and to register, go here.

The Paschal Mystery: A Journey into Redemption & Grace: This is a 40-day mini-retreat and is based on the teachings and writings of Fr.Thomas Keating and is intended to serve as a daily companion to move ever deeper in trust and intimacy with the living God in the midst of trials, purification, various forms of suffering or simply within the norms of everyday life. Scripture passages are complemented by beautiful images, Fr. Keating's writings and a mini-practice on which to focus for the day. On Sale. $10 USD for both hard copy and digital versions.

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

 

United in Prayer Day
Dedicated to Healing Violence
March 17, 2018

Celebrate this 26th annual worldwide day of prayer in three ways:

1. Attend a local group retreat. Check these local websites for event information. Here is a sample schedule to assist planning for a group retreat. Download Group Schedule

2. Organize your own in-home retreat. Here is a sample schedule to assist planning for an individual retreat. Download Schedule

3.  A 24-hour, worldwide silent prayer vigil will be hosted on March 16-17 dedicated to healing the violence within ourselves and the world. All are welcome to sign-up for 30-minute prayer periods, either as individuals or in groups. Online sign-up below!

We offer three suggestions for spiritual enrichment:

Please donate to support the sharing of Centering Prayer around the world.
Suggested donation $10.

If you have any questions, please email Pamela Begeman, pamela@coutreach.org.

A TASTE OF CENTERING PRAYER

“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 reward you.” (Matt. 6:6)

Centering Prayer is a simple Christian practice that helps us to locate and take refuge in our “inner room,” consent to the presence of God-in-2nd-person, and lead us into deep prayer, devotion, and contemplation of the divine. Largely popularized in recent decades by Father Thomas Keating, Centering Prayer traces its origin to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers, the Lectio Divinia tradition of Benedectine monasticism, and to works like The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. It endures to this day as one of the Christian tradition’s most powerful contemplative practices.

Take 20 minutes out of your day, and do the following:

  • Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within (e.g. God, Christ, I AM, Love, Now, Faith, Amen, etc.).

  • Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

  • When you become aware of thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.

  • At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes, before returning to the rest of your day.

About Fr. Thomas Keating

Father Thomas Keating is considered by many to be one of the few genuinely realized Christian saints in the world today. He continues to be a prominent voice in the Christian Centering Prayer movement through the organization he founded, Contemplative Outreach, an international network committed to renewing the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in daily life.

-- Taken from Integral Life

We consent to God's presence, letting God decide what he wants us to do.
God seems to want to find out what it is like to live human life in us,
and each of us is the only person who can ever give him that joy.
Hence our dignity is incomparable.
We are invited to give God the chance to experience God
in our humanity, in our difficulties, in our weaknesses,
in our addictions, in our sins.
Jesus chose to be part of everyone's life experience,
whatever that is, and to raise everyone up to divine union.

— by Thomas Keating, “Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit”

Centering Prayer is sometimes accused of falling short of true intimacy with Christ. What is meant by “true intimacy?”

Ordinarily we think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. Contemplative prayer, the pure gift of God, is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to the Divine Presence within us, beyond thinking, conversing, and even consciousness itself.

Centering Prayer is a method that prepares our faculties to awaken to the gift of contemplation. It leads to an intimate relationship with Christ that is beyond words, and moves into communion with him both in daily prayer and action. Centering Prayer is Christo-centric and consistent with the Christian mystical interpretation of the Gospel. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, Centering Prayer leads to a deeper intimacy with Christ.

Jesus invites us to learn this kind of prayer in his Discourse at the Last Supper: “I do not pray for them alone (those at the supper). I also pray for those who through their preaching will believe in me. All are to be one; just as you Father are in me and I am in you, so they too are to become one in us.” And a little later: “The glory you have bestowed on me, I have bestowed on them, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me. Thus their oneness will be perfected … May the love with which you love me dwell in them as I dwell in them myself (John 17: 20-26).”

This is the teaching that Centering Prayer proposes, following the whole Christian contemplative tradition, and brought into dialogue with contemporary psychological, anthropological, and neurological discoveries, as well as with the wisdom teachings of other religious traditions.

In Catholic theology, Jesus is not just a human being possessing a complete human nature. He is the Word made flesh, the Son of God, who in his divine nature assumed the historical humanity of Jesus. It is through the person of Jesus, the Divine Human Being, that we are drawn to experience the Eternal Word of God, not just through abstract theological formulas, but directly.

At Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, the Father’s voice rang out saying, “This is my beloved Son … Listen to him.” This listening points to prayer as an intimate relationship with God. As listening deepens, so does the relationship with God, which gradually matures over time until we become one with him. This is the thrust of the practice of Lectio Divina: first to know Jesus in his humanity and historical life, then to know him in his passion, death, and resurrection; then to know Jesus in his resurrection; and finally to know him in his Ascension and risen life in the Trinity.

The practices of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina open us to new levels of responding to the Spirit of God within. This growing relationship may require different responses from us as each level unfolds. In other words, the focus of each level is distinct and produces different results. To grow in divine love, through the earlier stages of relationship is to experience a deeper knowledge and love of Christ. They change one’s perspective not only of God but of all reality.

Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayers, rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. Centering Prayer embraces the unitive stage of Lectio Divina, as do all Christian prayer practices that encourage complete surrender to Christ.

The source of Centering Prayer is the Divine Indwelling, where one is responding to the call of the Holy Spirit to consent to the Divine Presence and action within oneself. Through the continuing practice of Centering Prayer, we experience a deepening commitment to the needs and rights of each member of the human family and an increasing respect for the interdependence and oneness of all creation.

As we move from conversation to communion with God's human and divine nature, Christ, we experience the divine intimacy as it was practiced in the first few centuries and preserved in the Christian contemplative tradition both in the West and in the Eastern Orthodoxy. The contemplative life, already present within us through the Divine Indwelling, awaits our consent.

— From Contemplative Outreach Newsletter, June 2016

If we want to be anything other than what God has made us to be, we are wasting our time.
It will not work. The greatest accomplishment in life is to be what we are,
which is God's idea of what he wanted us to be when he brought us into being;
and no ideas of ours will ever change it. Accepting that gift is accepting God's will for us,
and in its acceptance lies the path to growth and ultimate fulfillment.

— by Thomas Keating, “The Heart of the World”

 

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.

CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH YOU TUBE CHANNEL

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"Divine love is compassionate, tender, luminous,
totally self-giving, seeking no reward, unifying everything."

— Thomas Keating

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.

 

"A part of the process of letting go is to forgive ourselves and to trust God enough that if we are sorry for our misbehaviors, God has completely forgotten about them and would prefer that we would too. To live in the present moment means that the past has been integrated into who we are now. To think back would be a foolish thing to do because we can never judge the dispositions that we had then with how we now would judge certain behaviors. ... Part of acceptance is just to be still and surrender to God knowing that all God wants is our love."

— by Thomas Keating

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...

“’So,’ Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone.’”

‒ Jn 12:7

The word “alone” spoke to me. And as I pondered on it, I realized that it is only when I am alone that I can face myself. It is only when I’m alone that I can know my true self and see myself the way God sees me. And I realize the importance of this. . . That there can be no real conversion if I don’t face the reality of myself first and accept with all honesty what I see to be the real me.

Thank you Lord for showing me the way to build your Kingdom in me.

 

 

“…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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