CRUCIFIXION IS RESURRECTION AND HEALING
By Dedette Gamboa
Following Christ and living a life of total self-surrender and
obedience to the Father is a life-long journey especially if one is a
controlling and take-charge person. It took a crisis to show me that I
was not in charge of my life and that God was. When I was 60, I
decided to take my optional retirement to be able to spend more time
with my ageing mother. But before retiring, I decided to go on a
two-week retreat in the States to discern what I should do with my
life after retirement. In those two
weeks in a convent in Indiana, I experienced God’s abiding presence
and great love for me. It was a beautiful spiritual experience. I did
not know that God was preparing me for a big surprise!
As soon as my plane landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport,
I opened my cellphone and received a message from my sister to rush
directly from the airport to the ICU at Makati Med. When I arrived at
the ICU, I saw the doctors pumping my mother trying to revive her.
They just waited for me to say my goodbye before pronouncing her dead!
I was in a shock!!! I left my mother hale and hearty and now, just
after two weeks, she was dead! At that moment , I felt I had gone
through my passion and crucifixion. I surrendered to God, someone whom
I loved dearly for whom I had given up my job. The Lord asked from me
two of the most precious things around which my life revolved, my
mother and my work. It was truly a dying to self. God took away two
loves that competed with my loving Him fully and completely. I felt
miserable and lost but God never abandoned me. He accompanied me
through my grief and pain.
God does not leave a vacuum. What He takes away, He fills in. The loss
of my mother drew me much closer to my siblings and their family and
my spiritual family grew. Through them I experience God’s great love
and care for me. My work is now my service to God and my community.
Having retired and living alone, I have more time for my Centering
Prayer and Lectio Divina. In Centering Prayer, I sit in silence
accepting God’s presence and HEALING ACTION In my life while in Lectio
Divina I try to discern God’s will and OBEY. These two prayers have
deepened my relationship with the Lord. Therefore, just like Mary
Magdalene and the disciples of Jesus, I can truly say I HAVE MET THE
LORD! HE IS RISEN !
Metanoia, conversion, is an ancient concept that is deeply embedded in
the monastic worldview. Early seekers went to the desert to escape the
spiritual aridity of the cities, to concentrate on things of God.
“Flight from the world”—separation from the systems and vitiated
values that drove the world around them—became the mark of the true
contemplative. To be a contemplative in a world bent on materialism
and suffocated with itself, conversion was fundamental. But conversion
The answer never changes. In every great religious tradition the
concept is clear: To be a contemplative we must be converted to the
consciousness that makes us one with the universe, in tune with the
cosmic voice of God. We must become aware of the sacred in every
single element of life. We must bring beauty to birth in a poor and
plastic world. We must restore the human community. We must grow in
concert with the God who is within. We must be healers in a harsh
society. We must become all those things that are the ground of
contemplation, the fruits of contemplation, the end of contemplation.
The contemplative life is about being in the world differently. What
needs to be changed in us? Anything that makes us the sole center of
ourselves. Anything that deludes us into thinking that we are not
simply a work in progress, all of whose degrees, status, achievements,
and power are no substitute for the wisdom that a world full of God
everywhere, in everyone has to teach us. Anything that drowns out the
voice of the Ultimate within must be damped.
From Illuminated Life by Joan Chittister (Orbis)
MARY THE MOTHER
By Conchitina S.
In the silence of Centering Prayer, one ponders the topic of Our Lady
and creation and suddenly one is reminded of St. Francis' Cancticle of
the Sun, that says:
"Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth, which sustains us and
keeps us, and yields diverse fruits, and flowers of many colors, and
All that speak of creation, always refer to Mother Earth.....female.
Probably because symbolically life springs from woman. This why in the
month of October dedicated to the rosary and Our Blessed Mother, we
contemplate on Mary and creation.
In the quiet of the room, it all comes together... Pope Francis
encapsulated it into an encyclical, “Laudato Si”
Paragraph 241 of the encyclical on “the care of our common home,”
which is entitled “Queen of All Creation,” in obvious reference to the
Blessed Virgin, reads: “Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now
cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Just as
her pierced heart mourned the death of Jesus, so now she grieves for
the sufferings of the crucified poor and for the creatures of this
world laid waste by human power. Completely transfigured, she now
lives with Jesus."
The Encyclical is a worthy read. The Pope minces no words. We, the
human race, are largely responsible for the degradation in our
environment. How then does all this tie in with Mary?
Mary, mother of Creation has the transforming touch to heal this
groaning, tattered world , and bring us back to sustainability. It is
through instilling a change in values, a diminution of greed, and a
tempering of the lust for power. Helas, the human condition rears many
ugly heads. While few of us are in a position of power to actually
address the ills, there is inside everyone a formidable power source,
called prayer. This can be brought forth, through Our Lady, to God who
weaves untold miracles!
Perhaps we, in the praying ministries, should attest more as to how we
see God in the morning dew drops reflecting the sun, hear Him in the
chirping of birds, we taste him in the salty sea mist, we see Him on
starry nights and feel Him in the breeze that caresses the face.
Unspoiled nature speaks of the Divine.
Simplistic as this may seem, it is a call to Faith. Be reminded that
Jesus said "Nothing will be impossible with God" ( Luke: 1:37 ) Prayer
is always simple .
For us at the Contemplative Outreach Philippines it means praying more
while holding on to the promise that no prayer goes unanswered.
In Silence we hear God's whisper.
Reference for this article is taken from the CBCP newsletter.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus identified material concerns as our
main source of anxiety. How can we make ourselves more comfortable and
reduce personal suffering? This is the major preoccupation that
obscures the present moment and disrupts true priorities.
Therefore I bid you put away anxious thought about food and drink to
keep you alive, and clothes to cover your body. Surely life is more
than food, the body more than clothes. Mt 6:25
When he tells us not to worry Jesus is not denying the reality of
daily problems. It is anxiety he is telling us to abandon, not
reality. Learning not to worry is hard work. . . .[Yet] despite its
“attention-deficiency disorder,” even the modern mind has its natural
capacity to be still and to transcend its fixations. In depth it
discovers its own clarity where it is at peace, free from anxiety.
Most of us have half-a-dozen or so favorite anxieties, like bitter
sweets we suck on endlessly. We would be frightened to be deprived of
them. Jesus challenges us to go beyond the fear of letting go of
anxiety, the fear we have of peace itself. The practice of meditation
is a way of applying his teaching on prayer; it proves through
experience that the human mind can indeed choose not to worry. . .
An excerpt from Laurence Freeman OSB, “Meditation,” JESUS THE TEACHER
A PRAYER OF
SILENCE AND CONSENT
By Tess Castañeda
I find myself looking back with awe and wondering how God has lovingly
led me along my spiritual journey. It was 14 years ago when I joined
Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP) and I believe that it was
with God's grace that I was privileged to know what Centering Prayer
(CP) is all about. The prayer has reinforced my awareness of God's
loving presence by silence and stillness. I declare my consent to His
Presence and healing action within me. I learned how to pause, pray,
and be silent, especially in moments when I am experiencing anxiety
and powerlessness. I always start to feel calm and peace enveloping my
whole being after that silent moment.
The deepening of my prayer life was enhanced by the daily practice of
Centering Prayer. I am a member of a support group made up of people
on the same spiritual journey. We meet once a week sharing the prayer
together. It is a silent prayer which sustains our commitment to the
journey. We then share individual experiences and provide mutual
support and encouragement. Aside from these weekly meetings, various
COP activities like Formation Classes, Retreats and Workshops that
focus on the education of a faith community and sustenance of the
spiritual journey of Centering Prayer practitioners, help enhance and
deepen my prayer life.
The practice of Centering Prayer all these years has enabled me to
connect with God in solitude, and in a very simple way - no words, no
thoughts, no feelings, no expectation….Nothing! As I sit in silence
and solitude and just consent to that special moment with Him, I allow
Him to do what He wants to do with my life in complete surrender.
God has always been straightforward with me. I encounter Him in the
scripture reading of the day. I try to find out His mission for me and
respond obediently. I know in my heart that with my simple act of
consent and trust in those silent moments, I will find refuge and not
be discouraged to face the most serious difficulties in my journey
A MEDITATION ON
CENTERING PRAYER AND POVERTY OF SPIRIT
By Sydney S. Orr
Fr. Keating recommends studying the beatitudes. The beatitudes,
especially poverty of spirit, seem to stand out in the heart of his
writing. It seems to me I can take satisfaction in my gifts, even the
gift of Centering Prayer, and it needs a poverty of spirit. This
poverty is like learning to be without regards to myself or with
self-reflection. This poverty is like having an identity that is not
concerned about my self-worth. It seems to me my spirit needs no
thought of being thanked or repaid, even no regard for appreciation.
This poverty is like breaking down my pride and allowing the unfolding
of the Divine in my spirit.
This poverty of spirit seems to allow the virtue of humility to be
there, especially when my pride thinks it is making good things
happen. My pride is like vainglory and it can take special
satisfaction in my virtue of being well-intentioned. My pride wants me
to call attention to my generosity. I truly like being repaid for
being generous. My pride is like a hidden “goodness” within, calling
attention to my selflessness, being humble, being self-sacrificial and
then wanting to be repaid for being generous. Yet in all reality, my
pride is a fundamental denial of the loss of contact with Being and
the loss of contact with real love.
Fr. Keating’s words remind me to not be overly affected by my
experiences and once again learn to be present. Yet my experiences
fill me with pride and I suspect this is my wanting to fill up my
nothingness with pride. There is even a side of me that wants to
sustain a particular identity, like an image or idea of myself. Yet it
seems if I am true to this diamond within, I need poverty of spirit
for the richness of God to flow within and without my creating
anything about who I am. This simply resting in the ground of Being
appears to be the source of everything, even who I am.
Poverty in spirit seems critical in Centering Prayer and this poverty
can be communicated in how I flow with life, feeling calm and
balanced, regardless of the ups and downs. Poverty of spirit seems to
be the key and just learning to be relaxed with the energies of life
without trying to control any of it. Poverty of spirit, from Centering
Prayer, communicates the need to be present and awake, yet at a place
where identity and self-worth do not arise. This poverty feels like
freeing the self from experiences, so pride does not need to make
The freedom to be is like being truly free of an unbound state, such
as with my pride. Moving this pride is an enormous accomplishment and
everything in life is changing because of it. This shift in my center
is a profound reorganization. It is like being in self-possession and
learning to self-surrender to this poverty of spirit. There is no
self-consciousness and alienation here. It is like effortlessly being
so human and so receptive it makes my body shake and tremble inside.
When all is said and done, this Centering Prayer is a gift, just as
our Supreme Being is a gift to each of us, just as each of you are a
living reminder of this gift.
— From CO
Series: Voices of Community
RESPONDING TO GOD
By Bobby Novenario
When I was asked to write about the topic “Listening and Responding to
God”, I immediately thought of Lectio Divina.
The practice of Centering Prayer twice a day for two decades has led
me to encounter God, through scriptures. Centering Prayer quiets me
down and in the silence, I am more receptive to God’s words in the
gospel. There is usually a word or a sentence that attracts my
attention. This is Lectio Divina. I ponder on the word or phrase and
listen to what God is telling me in the context of my life right now.
If I allow the word or phrase to speak to me, God always has a message
for me. Many times it is in silence, the language of God, when I am
directed to do something quite difficult, but always the more loving
thing to do.
Obedience is the key to the growth of my spiritual life. It is only
when I obey and take action on the word of God, is there fulfillment.
Otherwise it is only good intentions, nothing more. Only when I truly
listen, can I respond. Being able to respond is a grace from God who
through the promptings of the Holy Spirit bring me to action.
God also uses people and events to convey His message. In
conversations with friends, business associates or workers, there will
be lessons learned or explanations I need to hear. I believe they come
from God. In the events in my life, like a long illness, losing a
loved one, disappointments and happy occasions, God speaks to me. For
my response, I try to bring God’s goodness and love to others. A deep
spiritual life makes me sensitive to the needs of others and I try to
The gospel of God is all about love. If one is firmly rooted in
prayer, there is no other response but to love. It is expressed in
forgiveness or an act of charity. We can only be sensitive about the
needs of others if we have love. Love is the fruit of prayer.
WE ARE THE
DWELLING PLACE OF THE LORD
By Carl J. Arico
In the theology of Christian spirituality, there are two levels of
contemplative prayer — acquired and infused contemplation. Acquired
contemplation is how we dispose ourselves to open to God’s presence
and action within — what we do with the help of the Holy Spirit to
prepare ourselves for contemplation. Centering Prayer is such a
method. Infused or higher contemplation is a mystical manifestation of
the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our awareness and our lives as a
response to our desire to consent.
The catechism of the Roman
Catholic Church speaks of contemplative prayer:
contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic liturgy: we
'gather up' the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting
of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we
are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of him who
awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord
who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be
purified and transformed.”
- #2711, from Part
Four: Christian Prayer, Chapter Three: The Life of Prayer, Section III
The first time I read this
passage I could not believe my eyes. It spoke to my heart as a
powerful, dramatic portrait of the ritual we experience when we enter
It is an entering into the
banquet of the Eucharist – the breaking of the bread and the drinking
of the wine — a reminder of the promise: “I will be with you until the
end of time,” an eternal covenant. And so we gather the intentions of
our heart, bringing our whole being to the Lord through the
inspiration of the Holy Spirit, celebrate that we are temples of Holy
Spirit, made in the image and likeness of God. This is a powerful
affirmation: “abide in the dwelling place of the Lord, WHICH WE ARE.”
Faith is itself a gift
from God. We awaken our faith in God, who is always present and
waiting for us to come to prayer. We let our masks fall – the false
self, the homemade self we have acquired throughout the years by our
disproportionate need for security, affection and control. We turn not
only our minds but our heart, our desire and passion, back to the Lord
for 20 minutes, to a Lord that loves us and will always love us, just
as we are. I am reminded of the theological principles #4 and #5 of
Contemplative Outreach on page two of this newsletter.
In Centering Prayer, we
let go of our thoughts, feelings, commentaries, body sensations — we
let everything come and we let everything go during the prayer. No
resistance, no clinging. We hand everything over to God to receive the
gift of a “two-armed embrace”— the arm of purification from our
attachments and attitudes and the arm of transformation which calls
forth a new creation rising from our depth — Christ in us.
You may wish to re-read
the excerpt above in the spirit of Lectio Divina and allow the words
to wash over you and penetrate each cell of your being and perhaps
spend some time resting in the Word. May blessings be upon you.
If you are interested,
I have compiled a document of excerpts from the catechism which relate
to the four conferences on Centering Prayer taught in the introductory
workshop, as well as other passages relating to Lectio Divina. This
document is posted on the Contemplative Outreach website>FAQs> “How
does Centering Prayer relate to the Catholic Catechism teachings on
prayer?” You may download the complete document there.
TASTE OF SILENCE
A Contemplative Parishioner
My vision for the Santuario de San Antonio Parish is that of a
community and a place of worship that can respond to the spiritual
needs of its parishioners.
Having had to live in the United States, where for many years I was a
single parent, I was too busy to belong to a community, and had to
pray in my own way. It was my faith that guided me in growing with my
children in a different culture. It was very difficult, but by God’s
grace I was able to deal with my situation for 10 years.
Upon returning home, I was invited by my neighbour Josie Tordesillas,
who took me to a cenacle and to Centering Prayer. I joined the
Contemplative Outreach Philippines (COP). Coming home without my
children was lonely. It was my time to work on my spiritual life.
Centering Prayer and COP became my source of strength and I met new
In COP, I belong to a community of faith that offers support,
direction. and mutual concern. The prayer of silence that has brought
us together in search of transformation and union with God has made my
life a joy. Knowing friends in the journey has made me happy. While I
may be alone, I do not feel alone any more.
In the United States, I could not go on retreats. Here, the retreats
have deepened my Faith. In times of quiet and reflection, I was
communing with God, and in the silence I truly heard Him. I continue
As I grew spiritually, I felt I had a “calling.” I had to do something
to serve Him. I prayed for guidance. When I was a teenager in the
province, I used to teach in the slums and the public schools. I
taught basic catechism. He led me to the ministry of catechism. Today
I teach 8-year-olds and prepare them for their First Communion. In the
process, I too am learning more about Him. Truly I can say my Shepherd
has guided me all my life!
As I look back, God’s love has provided me with all the people and
events -- be they favorable or unfavorable -- always for my good. He
has channelled my life so that it evolved step-by-step and has brought
me to where and to what I am today. All in His time, and in His way.
In all these, I can say, that when I worked on my spiritual life, it
mirrored His presence at every moment, especially when I had difficult
In silence I feel His presence and love. God is good!