For the contemplative
Christian prayer is not, essentially, speaking to God, or thinking
about God. It is about entering into a silent conversation with
God through the mind of Christ. It is not about opposing our will
to God’s or negotiating a settlement over our differences of
opinion about what is good for us. It is about an active,
whole-hearted surrender to the will of God who knows our needs
with an intimate and unique love because he is part of our
humanity, sharing with all our woundedness and complexity.
‒ Lawrence Freeman
A glimpse of Reality...
rejoice in the presence of God, delighted and crying out for joy.
Sing to God, play music to his name . . . ”
‒ Ps. 68:3-4
Music, I am sure, is
one of God’s greatest gift to mankind. I cannot imagine life
without it. That is why, while enjoying the replay of Andrea
Bocelli’c concert on TV last night, my heart brimmed over with
gratitude not only for this loving gift, but most of all for
allowing me to be touched by it in the deepest core of my being.
After being bombarded by media with the tedious and inane
spectacle in congress that mercifully ended some hours before, it
was a soothing balm to my wounded spirit. The gratitude I felt in
my heart extended to everyone who worked hard for this effort,
allowing even the poorer sector of society to be part of it.
Thank you Lord for
bringing forth the best in our people lifting us up from the
doldrums of our daily existence.
To find our life, we
must lose it. That’s the paradox that Jesus puts before us. To
have life, to be alive, fully alive, we must learn to die, to die
into life, like diving into the waves. We learn to die by
unhooking ourselves from the compulsive, egotistically driven
compulsion to be doing something, to be in control, to be
producing, and so on.
‒ Lawrence Freeman
Contemplative Outreach Philippines
Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) took root at the Parish of
Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park, Makati in 1985 as a ministry
that taught the method of Centering Prayer, and offered practices that
brought its fruit into daily life. However, it was only in 1990
that it became a chapter of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. (CO Ltd.) of New
York, an organization put up by Fr. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., solely to
teach Centering Prayer.
workshops were given during the years that followed. At this
stage, Grace Padilla and Lita Salinas, prime movers of Centering Prayer
practice in the country, were invited to be part of the National Faculty
of CO Ltd. They were the first Asians to be given such an
assignment. It was both a function and a privilege. The
function was to teach Centering Prayer and the privilege was to be
invited to attend Faculty meetings once a year, Coordinators’
Conferences, Formation Programs and Retreats, all aimed at enriching the
ministry in all aspects. Since all these activities are both for
information and formation, the experiences derived from these were
unquantifiable. Both Grace and Lita benefited from these
tremendously. The programs, the inputs that these two learned were
brought home and applied to COP and an ongoing Formation Program was
devised for everyone who by this time had come together regularly as a
Support Group in this new found way of relating to God.
factor contributing to the further spread of Centering Prayer practice
were the visits of Fr. Basil Pennington (first in 1987 and almost yearly
thereafter), Fr. Thomas Keating (in 1989, 1990 and many more times later
on), and Fr. William Meninger in 1998. These three Cistercian
monks were responsible for reintroducing the ancient practice of
contemplative prayer in a contemporary setting as Centering Prayer”.
Vice-President of CO Ltd., came in 1992, and Ms. Bonnie Shimizu,
Chairperson, Resource Faculty Service Team, came in 2005 to give a
“Formation for Presenters Workshop” to a group of committed members.
Since then, hundreds of workshops, retreats and formation programs have
been given benefiting more than a few thousands, COP members and others,
including the clergy and religious communities, desiring to know more
about Centering Prayer and its application in daily life.
As an organization, COP is
served by a Servant Leader Team (SLT) made up of 10 members, 9 of whom
are elected by its voting members. The 10th member is
the mentor/spiritual adviser commissioned by Fr. Thomas Keating.
Together they make up the Circle of Service (COS) whose function is to
see to it that the vision of Contemplative Outreach (CO) is fostered,
and its mission of spreading the prayer and supporting the members in
their spiritual journey is facilitated.
The Story of
Contemplative Outreach Philippines
the lead of Contemplative Outreach Ltd. (COL), the servant leaders of
COP are following a slightly different organizational model starting this
year. The approach, one that had Fr. Keating’s endorsement, is less
hierarchical, and more participative. No one member of the Coordinating
Circle of Service (CCOS) is higher than the other. All are equal, all
are heard, and all carry the same weight in the organization’s planning
and decision-making process.
different committees work together as clusters, depending on their
respective functions. Thus Publicity, Socials, and Secretariat form one
cluster. Retreats and Workshops form another cluster with Legacy of TK,
and CPG Heads unit.
center of the whole Circle is the Holy Spirit who guides the CCOS in
their service ministry.
love. What we’re doing in meditation, and I’m not using this in any
sense pious language or sentimental language, but we are loving. It may
not feel like it emotionally at the time, but we are loving, and the
effects of this work of attention in the meditation periods will be
translated into our lives in the form of love. You basically become more
loving people, capable of receiving love. Love is a two way street –
giving and receiving.
FR. KEATING ARTICLES:
following 2 articles by Fr. Thomas Keating explain Centering Prayer vis
a vis some misconceptions about it, deepening our understanding and
appreciation of it as a prayer that is Christocentric, Scripture-based
and rising out of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Desert
Feb. 16, 1997, his Eminence, Jaime Cardinal Sin, Archbishop of Manila,
issued a Pastoral Statement on Centering Prayer. Based on an
exhaustive study commissioned by the Cardinal himself, the Statement
clarified Centering Prayer’s true definition, purpose, and benefits, and
how spiritual guidance can help enhance the practice.
concluded the assessment with the pronouncement that Centering Prayer
“merits the approval of the Catholic Christian faith community . . .
because it has brought renewal and deepening of Christian Prayer and
life among increasing numbers of individuals and communities, and has
brought back many seekers for God and for spiritual life back to the
The Cardinal has
disseminated the Pastoral Statement on Centering Prayer to all parishes,
religious houses, and seminaries in the Archdiocese of Manila. He
personally released it to then COP Director, Lita Salinas (now COP
mentor/spiritual adviser), thus recognizing the Outreach as the official
organization authorized to teach Centering Prayer and its formation
programs through its bona fide commissioned presenters.
February 16, 1997
Most Rev. Raul Q. Martirez,
• Fr. Ferdinand “Soy” Hernando, MB