By Billie Trinidad
In August, 1989, Fr.
Thomas came and introduced us to Centering Prayer. I bought his
book, Open mind Open Heart, and the words: “Contemplative Prayer is
the world in which God can do anything…,” took hold of me…and never
Many years later, these
words continue to sustain me: and, as I look back, I can say: “Yes,
God has rocked my world!” But today, I have stopped thinking of how
my world has changed or how God has done anything in my world. It no
longer matters that much now. Instead what stays with me is a quiet
determination to stay on this path that I have chosen to be on. And
I no longer dream of what my world could be or what my world could
have been. Instead I am now living in a world cradled by gratitude.
Even as sadness or hard times try to creep in, gratitude overcomes
me. Gratitude that I met this holy man of God, who DID introduce me
to a world in which God can do anything…and towards the end of his
life, penned these words:
Four years after he has
left us…I can only say: Thank you, Father Thomas…for my world.
By Chuchi Daroy
I live in the heart of
Manila, amidst commercial and residential fixtures, and in the way
of the noisy traffic of all kinds of vehicles. When the sun shines,
it is hot and humid, when it rains heavily, our place gets flooded.
How in the midst of these cityscapes can I find the quiet and
stillness to host my contemplative lifestyle? First and foremost, is
a daily pattern of prayer and spiritual study. Centering prayer
attunes me to the presence of Jesus Christ in my everyday silent
sits that spills over into my active life. The glow of the conscious
and subconscious awareness that I am with Him mutes the distractions
of technology’s noise, media hype and the harried pace of city life.
My home becomes a nest of silent surrender to the Divine Indwelling,
or a marching cadence to the Word of God, or a reflective space of
pondering His most holy will. Before I know it, the time has gone by
in a grace-filled day of thanksgiving and praise. Most of my days
are like this, but there are times when household duties and errands
draw my attention away from the contemplative gaze, yet deep within
me the flame of faith and love burns steadfastly. Answered prayers
and spirit-filled discernment assure me that I am in step with the
spiritual journey. I am not spared of the occasional disruptions of
my peace, but the rhythm of morning and afternoon prayer, evening
mass and family rosary keeps me apace with the Christ beats of my
heart. I even welcomed a bout with Covid as the isolation gave me
ample time to flow from prayer to prayer, and to contemplate the
frailty of human life and how our life stream is wholly in His
hands. My day ends with prayers and the holy rosary to keep me under
the Virgin Mary’s protection and to carve out the dwelling place in
my heart for God’s abiding. The times when sleep does not come
easily, I bask in the darkness of a spiritual hymn running thru my
mind, the repetitive cadence of a short prayer like the Jesus prayer
or the poised stillness of Centering Prayer. This rest in God is
better than being physically asleep and recharges me with a renewed
spirit to face another day.
Nonviolence is a way
of strength and not a way for cowards. It is not a lack of power
which allows us to be nonviolent, but in fact the discovery of a
different kind of power. It is a choice, not a resignation; a
spirituality, not just a tactic.
The goal of
nonviolence is always winning the friendship and the
understanding of the supposed opponent, not [their] humiliation
or personal defeat. It must be done to eventually facilitate the
process of reconciliation, and we ourselves must be willing to
pay the price for that reconciliation. King based this on Jesus’
lifestyle and death and on Ephesians 2:13–22 and Romans 12:1–2.
The opponent must be
seen not so much as an evil person, but as a symbol of a much
greater systemic evil—of which they also are a victim! We must
aim our efforts at that greater evil, which is harming all of
us, rather than at the opponent.
There is a moral
power in voluntarily suffering for others. We call it the “myth
of redemptive suffering,” whereas almost all of history is based
on the opposite, the “myth of redemptive violence.” The lie that
almost everybody believes is that suffering can be stopped by
increasing the opponent’s suffering. It works only in the short
run. In the long run, that suffering is still out there and will
somehow have to work its way out in the next generation or
through the lives of the victims. A willingness to bear the pain
has the power to transform and absorb the evil in the opponent,
the nonviolent resister, and even the spectator. This is
precisely what Jesus was doing on the cross. It changes all
involved, and at least forces the powers that be to “show their
true colors” publicly. And yes, the nonviolent resister is also
changed through the action. It is called resurrection or
This love ethic must
be at the center of our whole life, or it cannot be effective or
real in the crucial moments of conflict. We have to practice
drawing our lives from this new Source, in thought, word,
emotion, and deed, every day, or we will never be prepared for
the major confrontations or the surprise humiliations that will
come our way.
on a kind of cosmic optimism which trusts that the
universe/reality/God is finally and fully on the side of justice
and truth. History does have a direction, meaning, and purpose.
God is more fundamental than evil. Resurrection will have the
final word, which is the very promise of the Jesus event. The
eternal wind of the Spirit is with us. However, we should not be
naïve; and we must understand that most people’s loyalties are
with security, public image, and the comforts of the status quo.
Joseph is the exemplar of
the ‘hidden life’ … a life of great value … because there is
something about it that imitates God. In fact, God seems to have a
preference for concealment … The hidden life takes many forms … In
religious communities, the common life is a means of practicing the
hidden life. In the apostolic way of life, external trials,
rejection and failure are means of doing the same thing. The wear
and tear and ups and downs of marriage and family life are other
means. The anonymity of oppressive circumstances is still another
way. To be just a number in a jail, on a welfare role, or in a
social security file; just another case for a social worker; to grow
up and die in squalid circumstances where everybody is struggling
for the bare necessities of life – all these situations may conceal
persons of extraordinary faith and love.
For the hidden life to do
its work, one must accept and accomplish the routine of
ever-recurring duties and failure where nothing new ever seems to
happen. The hidden life, in other words, is primarily a disposition.
It is aimed directly at human pride, especially pretensions that
tempt us to make a splash in some pond or other. In Jesus’
temptations in the desert, Satan tempted Him to become a pious
celebrity. Jesus’ reply indicated that it is interior actions, much
more than exterior actions, that really count.
In order to turn us in
this direction, God places us in circumstances that contradict,
erode, or demolish our ambitions for ephemeral greatness.
— Thomas Keating,
CONDITION - A SHARING
By Chita Castillo
CP has made a big
difference in the way I think and the way I behave. It has
re-engineered my interactions, not only with others but with myself
as well. I find that I am not as stressed out in certain situations
as I used to be; I find that I don’t judge or criticize people as
often as I did; my mind is less cluttered; I return more often to
prayer and quiet.
You know, I am a stage
director. That means everything that happens onstage is designed by
me…from the blocking to certain details of the acting including some
of the movements of the actors. In other words, control is very
strong in my psyche.
Aside from that I am OC -
obsessive compulsive. I try to do everything in the best way
possible. So I like things done exactly right…in what I think is the
right way. Unfortunately this is a trait I carry out beyond the
theater and into daily life. I was very judgmental and critical of
people. I wanted things done my way. Always seeing things and
judging them from my point of view.
One day we had lunch for a
balikbayan friend who was here on a visit… and although she lived in
the area, a close friend of mine, who always goes to our
get-togethers, refused to pick her up. She said that since we were
all riding with her, we wouldn’t fit in the car, which was not true.
She had a car that could fit seven people. More than enough space. I
was very upset with her because the host of the party, who lives in
San Juan, had to send her car all the way to Alabang to pick up this
balikbayan friend. But don’t get me wrong, I like my obstinate
friend very much. She is a friend from way back. …
To continue, this month we
will be having a party. It will be a lunch for those celebrating
their birthdays in October, and someone in the group mentioned
inviting her. At first I was totally against it but then after
thinking about it, I realized that of course we have to invite her.
Who was I to make that decision not to invite her? I called her and
did so. I tell you, without Centering Prayer, I wouldn’t have
reconsidered. That goes to show, CP has helped me a lot - to relax
Through CP I have come to
realize that others have their way of doing things and although
their way is different from mine, it doesn’t necessarily mean that
it is the wrong way. I have become less judgmental and less critical
of others. You know how it is…You greet someone at Mass and ask
yourself, ”Why is this man a Eucharistic minister when I know that
he is having an affair?” “Why is she receiving communion when she is
living with someone who is not her husband?” The truth is I don’t
really know the whole story, do I? I don’t! I am seeing external
circumstances…And I should not judge and speak about it with my
This change in my way of
thinking has made me accept other people as they are with their own
gifts and differences. It has freed me from a lot of anxiety.
Because of this mania for perfection, I used to plan days ahead of
time…continually studying in my mind what to do to achieve what I
wanted. Always worried and going back to the same problem, over and
over again. “What if the priest doesn’t follow the script and I make
a mistake when I respond?…on zoom! In front of everyone. Well, my
practice of centering prayer helps me to put things in the right
perspective. I notice that it's easier to let go. I don't need to
control every detail. If there is a hitch somewhere, well, it
doesn’t really matter. A small error here and there is not going to
be earth shaking. You know the saying, …“Let go and let God”. I
learned to trust! CP taught me to have great trust in His mercy and
His love. Let me tell you, that is the best way to deal with stress!
Another thing I find is
that I get very affected when someone isn’t nice to me. I feel it. I
either feel bad or I get angry. A classmate once said to me, “The
problem with you is that you never inform me about gatherings. You
never send me a text to let me know we are getting together.” I was
really taken aback. I didn’t even have her mobile phone number
despite the fact that I had asked for it…and we do have a
classmate's chat room which she never bothered to join! I kept
quiet. I was upset, but I kept quiet. I didn’t want to argue. Can
you imagine? She hardly joins us as it is. But for days my mind was
humming…going crazy with…” Why didn’t I say this to her?” or “I
could have replied in this way.” Anyway, that is over now. Centering
Prayer has made me realize that if somebody's in a bad mood or is
just plain nasty, and takes it out on me, that's their problem, not
mine. It has cooled me down. I don’t get as upset, or hurt the way I
I have also learned the
importance of staying in the present moment. You know, in centering
prayer I make a choice. I choose to be completely in God’s presence.
In the same way, I have learned the importance of being in the “here
and now”. To experience the moment. I find it very hard. This, for
me, is still something I have to work on. I am not a patient person.
I like to get things done at once. I like multi-tasking. For
example, at Mass my mind goes off somewhere. Especially when the
sermon is not exactly to my liking. I start thinking of what I have
to do for the day. My fingers itch to get the mobile phone and see
who sent me a message. I am not very successful at staying and
living the moment. Many times I am fashioning a card on Pic Collage
while I am in a zoom meeting. Not focusing on the now.
When my husband died two
years ago, I lost my best friend and the anchor in my life. We were
together for 50 years - heart and mind, body and soul. Then I lost
him. No more quiet moments, where his presence filled the room with
comfort and contentment. I was left with a large hole in my life.
One of my biggest fears was that I would not survive financially
since he took care of that part of our lives. I thought I would have
to sell the house. I was so scared. I didn’t know what to think. I
remember my mantra was a prayer that my grandfather used to say
“Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in thee”. I threw myself
wholly into His hands. And He was there for me in the midst of my
anxiety, my fear and helplessness. In the midst of all this, the
government paperwork, the BIR, consultations with the lawyer and the
bank …you know, I had just lost my husband. I had just lost someone
I loved dearly…and the government makes your life a living hell.
Thank God for Centering Prayer…it helped to alleviate my fears, my
insecurities. It brought me to an anchor focusing my eyes on God and
His unconditional love. It made me see that there would be a way out
and I didn’t need to despair.
This prayer has made my
relationship with the Lord grow. I have gotten to know how much He
cares for me and how He shows it in my everyday life. I have learned
self control and to a certain degree, patience. It has brought me
love, joy and peace.
Everyone's 'story' is so
interesting...and we must remember the Holy Spirit is flowing
through each life, in a specific way for a Divine intention! We are,
each one, His Divine Child. I KNOW HE KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING. I have
come to TRUST the process. (finally!)
For me, Thomas's guidance
was just what I needed. My tradition...had given me so many pieces
of the jigsaw puzzle! All lived through, all surrounding me up to
the 'passion, death and resurrection'.... but the clearest direction
I ever received from Thomas was...
STOP WORKING. STOP DOING.
STOP TRYING. SIT. ENTER THE INNER ROOM. Just BE. Sit. Sit. Sit.
RELAX...ABBA KNOWS YOU, LOVES YOU...and serves you!! Breathe. Empty.
Empty. Empty. Let go. Release. Sit in LOVE and openness...like a
baby. (moving into a 180 degree turn around)
One day, it becomes so
simple..."all you have to do is accept the EFFULGENT LOVE of God".
Divinization IS GOD's ...Of myself I can do nothing. A big influence
was that I could SEE Thomas' transformation right in front of me. I
absolutely saw...THIS WORKS!
The Spiritual Journey is
Thomas' legacy...all mapped out for us....transmission. God is
blessing us, each one!
— Elizabeth Kelley,
SPIRITUS, Sept 22, 2022
Franciscan sister and
scientist Ilia Delio finds evidence for a benevolent universe in
evolutionary change driven by love:
To say “God is love” is to
say that the name God refers to the divine energy of love that is
dynamic, relational, personal, and unitive. God does what God
is—love. Rather than seeing God as a separate being over the world,
we can say that love-energy is the stuff of existence. . . . Where
there is energy of attraction, union, generativity, and life, there
is God. . . .
God is the name of
personal divine love emerging in evolution, as consciousness
complexifies and persons unite: “Where two or more are gathered in
my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Evolution
reveals a newness to God because love is always expressing itself in
new patterns of relationships. . . . The dynamic fountain fullness
of divine love means forever the newness of world; God is ever
newness in love, and thus the world is ever new as well. The Greek
philosopher Heraclitus once said that “you cannot step into the same
river twice,” meaning change is inherent to life; every act bears an
essential newness. . . . Divine love is not a river of stagnant
water but a fountain fullness of overflowing love, love that is
forever awakening to new life. 
Delio seeks to
reconcile a good and loving God with the ever-present suffering in
There is no doubt that
suffering and violence abound in the crevices of life, but suffering
is not a punishment of a vengeful God. God does not abandon us; we
abandon God by . . . running after little gods. God lives deep
within us, as the center of love, but we are often [dismissive of]
this inner center and drawn by the little gods of power, success,
status, and wealth, everything we create for ourselves. . . . The
theodicy question is not why God allows bad things to happen to good
people but why we abandon God in the face of suffering. If God is
love, then our only real hope is in God, because hope is the
openness of love to infinite possibilities and new life. . . . This
God of love appears in Jesus of Nazareth, a God who gets radically
involved in the messiness of the world to be God for us. . . .
To have faith in a God of
unconditional love is to realize how intimately close God is. So
close we forget God’s presence. In his own day Jesus was immersed in
a violent culture, a culture of conflict and anxiety. But he also
knew of the deeper truth hidden beneath the surface of human
judgment, namely that this broken, anxious world is oozing with God.
He asked us to have faith, to believe that the reign of God is among
us and within us.
We were asked to share how
the 3 years of Covid changed us. Covid time was extremely difficult
for every one. But, looking back there were times that were good. I
share with you a very personal part. I know, in fact, I am certain,
that most, if not all of you have experienced it.
During Covid, I must have
exhausted every Netflix series, watched YouTube, had long
conversations on the telephone with life long friends. I do not
think I have ever spent such a long and uninterrupted time with my
spouse. It was nice, very comforting.
Most of all, during the
lock down, I prayed a lot.
Primarily I prayed my
loved ones and friends be spared of this terrible plague. I however,
lost friends to Covid. Others went because it was time to go. How I
mourned them! I still feel their absence! I grieve. I get very angry
at whoever started this terrible virus. I was very fearful, so I
prayed a lot more.
I belong to a parish
prayer group called Contemplative Outreach Philippines. We practice
a method of prayer called Centering Prayer. A form of Contemplative
Prayer. We met throughout the pandemic and continue to do so
regularly even to date. There were zoom meetings, support groups and
prayer conferences with the most amazing spiritual speakers. I was
so grateful for these moments when I could touch my soul. And rest
in the Lord. These moments were a soothing balm that cradled me
through that terrible time and brought me to a zone where there was
silence, peace and joy. And soon I learned what it meant to be in
the “Divine Dance.”
During the lock down I
learned that during Contemplative prayer, the prayer of silence,
something truly mystical takes place. In silence you savor the love
of the Father, received by the Son and returned by the Spirit. A
vortex of love. You become part of the unconditional exchange of
love between the Holy Trinity. Merely by sitting quietly, consenting
with a word like “love” or even whispering “I love you,” you get
caught in this gentle swirl of love. You dance the “Divine Dance” by
just being in that moment of loving exchange, and suddenly, it is
transforming! Your heart then fills with overwhelming gratitude.
Grateful for life, for blessings, for nature, and yes, even grateful
that the pandemic led you to this moment and to this dance.
This pandemic, this Covid 19 lock down, taught me not to try to
manipulate life. No matter what I think I can do, I cannot change
things. It is what it is. Things happen because they have to happen.
Not even a leaf can fall from a tree without a divine consent. So my
only task, for now, is to flow into this dance. As I swirl in this
gently spinning circle of unconditional love, it suddenly becomes so
easy to “Let go and let God.”
By Deborah Marqui,
“The way we would begin
in prayer is that we belong to God …
all prayer starts and unfolds out of that knowing…”
Wise words from Thomas
Merton to his novice monks. We would do well to listen for this inner
certainty changes everything. But I can’t seem to hold on to this
precious knowing. How do I swim in this golden river of love for
longer than ten seconds, this fierce, ineffable, bottomless love of
the Creator for creation?
The truth is little by
little. By myself, I can’t hold on to anything. But I am faithful to
my Centering Prayer practice, as Jim Finley would say, “my daily
rendezvous with God.”
Often, I find myself
sighing deeply over my failings, sometimes laughing and other times
tearful at my thoughts and actions. Thankfully, with less hateful
judgment and criticism. I am living more and more of my life from a
calm inner, compassionate awareness, and acceptance of my own
preciousness in the face of my imperfections.
Perhaps I am swimming in
the golden river of love and belonging more than I realize, especially
when I look at myself with the eyes of God. This is good news.
I am filled with deep appreciation whenever I think of the gift that
Centering Prayer has been and continues to be in my life. Nothing has
gifted it more than learning of centering prayer (CP) shortly after I
had moved a few towns over from Spencer, Massachusetts in July, 1980.
Having known the Trappistines in St. Romuald, Quebec and having a home
not far from the Benedictine monks at Weston, Priory, I was thrilled
to be able to attend Lauds and Eucharist at St. Joseph’s Abbey before
work. In learning of CP and then the practice itself, it seemed there
was a readiness to begin the life changing experience that continues
to encourage God’s necessary, ongoing and continuing work daily in my
life—to build my relationship with Him, others and myself. Father
Thomas’ words are so true, “God will bring people and events into our
lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the
evolution of His life in us.”
In kindergarten, we learned to say on the hour, “Children, let us
remember the Presence of God,” pause—then respond, “And receive His
Holy Benediction.” What is now the school gym was then our parish
church. We were encouraged to visit often, to drop in to speak to
Jesus, our Friend, on our way to school in the morning and from lunch
and on our way home. Many of us have mentioned in gatherings over the
years, how the gifts of those practices have endured in our lives. I
often in a day pause and return to the Presence—as a form of station
identification. The childhood prayer often seems to pray itself in my
present days even as my understanding of the Presence of God has
evolved over the years.
As my practice deepened and its time in a day expanded, I’ve come to
recognize the efforts to simplify my life. I’ve become more aware of
how much I treasure the experience of the Presence in ordinary
dailiness. I remember on a feast of a monastic saint, Father Thomas,
as Abbot, spoke briefly of the day after day ordinariness and sameness
of life in a Trappist community. He pointed out that while at times
ordinary days might seem grueling and wearying—their work in a life,
acted like drops of water on a rock. Over time, the rock becomes
increasingly smooth and sometimes even translucent just as monks’
lives were changed by the ordinary dailiness of prayer and work. In my
mind’s eye, this view of the ordinary seems congruent with what I
heard when many years ago. I asked two monks—one a Trappist and the
other a Buddhist—at a Spencer gathering about enlightenment. They both
laughed and one said, “When you pick up an apple, you’ll know you’ve
picked up an apple.” The other added, “You will know yourself living
your own life.” We chatted for a bit. The words ordinary, common place
and connected were used several times.
These words of Father Thomas seem to encourage living simply in the
ordinary, “When the presence of God emerges from our inmost being into
our faculties, whether we walk down the street or drink a cup of soup,
divine life is pouring into the world.” I smile as I remember also his
words on extraordinary love, his explanation of there being no other,
and his quote from Raimon Panikkar, “Christ lives in me as my
deepest self.” The deeper meaning of those words came to life for
me in Father Thomas’ response to Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s question of how
he was preparing to die. It is said, Father Thomas cupped his hands
when he responded, “Every time Thomas comes up, I let Thomas go.” Dear
Friends, it seems in the daily moments of living an ordinary
contemplative life we can invite each other to heed the call to let go
and do likewise.
Cecile G. Betit
East Wallingford, Vermont
April 30, 2022
PRAYER FOR OUR
By Richard Rohr
Loving God, you fill all
things with a fullness and hope that we can never comprehend. Thank
you for leading us into a time where more of reality is being unveiled
for us all to see. We pray that you will take away our natural
temptation for cynicism, denial, fear and despair. Help us have the
courage to awaken to greater truth, greater humility, and greater care
for one another. May we place our hope in what matters and what lasts,
trusting in your eternal presence and love. Listen to our hearts’
longings for the healing of our suffering world. (Please add your
own intentions . . .) Knowing, good God, you are hearing us better
than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of
Come, Holy Spirit, Spirit
of Love, Spirit of Discipline, in the silence come to us and bring us
Rest in us, that we may be
tranquil and still; Speak to us as our hearts need to hear, reveal to
us things hidden and things longed for, rejoice in us, that we may
praise and be glad, pray in us that we may be one with you and with
our sisters and brothers.
Refresh and renew us from
your living springs of water.
Holy Spirit, dwell in us
that your light may shine through us and that in our hearts you may
find your homeliest home and endless dwelling. Amen.
Julian of Norwich
Videos of Fr. Keating (In YouTube)
• Ada Mabilangan
• Betty Florendo
• Tess Colayco