Where and When
Join us on Fridays from 10:30-12:00 p.m. in the Prayer Chapel, Lower Level Room 6.
What is Contemplative Prayer?
Christian Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart—our whole being—to God, the Ultimate Mystery, who is beyond thoughts, words and emotions. In this type of prayer, we open ourselves to God who is within us, closer than breathing, thinking, feeling, and choosing---closer than consciousness itself. The root of all prayer is interior silence. Though we think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words, this is only one expression. Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence. It helps us realize God, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment.
Centering Prayer is a method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within us. It furthers the development of contemplative prayer by quieting our faculties to cooperate with the gift of God’s presence. Centering Prayer facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer—verbal, mental or affective prayer—into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God. At the same time, it is a discipline to foster and serve this relationship by a regular, daily practice of prayer. It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effects; that is; it builds communities of faith.
The History of Contemplative Prayer
For the Church’s first sixteen centuries, Contemplative Prayer was the goal of Christian spirituality. After the Reformation, this living tradition was virtually lost. Today, with cross-cultural dialog and historical research, the recovery of the Christian contemplative heritage has begun. Centering Prayer, in the tradition of Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures), is contributing to this renewal.
Centering Prayer comes from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage. It draws upon wisdom from the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. It was distilled in a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s by three Trappist monks. They are Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington, and Abbot Thomas Keating at the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.