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We embrace the process of transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others, through the practice of Centering Prayer.

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Another Easter . . .
Marge Rafftery
Voices of Community

As I read the latest "Voices of the Community" articles from the current Contemplative Outreach e-bulletin, I noticed something I had not seen before . . . one could go back to previous articles.  So I did just that . . . going back to one I had written two years ago just after Easter that year (see the article "A Very Different Holy Week.").

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Sacred Feeling as a Sacred Symbol
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I feel led towards using what I would call sacred “feeling” when doing Centering Prayer. My feeling is love for God that I feel in my heart.  It seems very natural to me to return to my love for God when I'm distracted and it seems to line up with the teaching in The Cloud of Unknowing. Can this be used as a method for Centering Prayer?

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“Living Wisdom” – An Appreciation
Jack Lloyd
Voices of Community

Contemplative Outreach of Chicago recently launched a new program known as Living Wisdom, to give interested members an opportunity to explore “the wisdom tradition.”  So far, the program has offered four all-day Saturday workshops, one per month, January through April 2017.  After participating in the four workshops, I am starting to form an idea of what the wisdom tradition has to offer, and I have a strong interest in learning more.

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Facilitating a Centering Prayer Support Group
Mary Mrozowski
Voices of Community

Facilitating is a ministry that empowers people and enables group process. As a ministry, it helps groups members to become more aware and more loving. Empowering others in this way is the heart of Christian ministry.

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Guiding New Practitioners
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: While debriefing the 20 minute prayer practice as part of the Centering Prayer Introductory Workshop, two participants shared experiences about which I would like some advice. One mentioned going in his "space" of a blue aura, which he recounted as the place where he infrequently experienced a special nearness of God. As he recounted it, it sounded like he was working hard to get into that space....

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Centering Prayer
Taking a Break From Our Personality
Ruby M. Shelton
Voices of Community

Is humility to look down at others, wear not too lavish clothes, not standing up for yourself?  I think that humility is to take a break from our personality and observe a total and complete action of surrender to God.

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Spiritual Journey
HORIZON
Dian Gillmar
Voices of Community

I look our across fog.
Gray ocean meets gray sky,
and I think of my young friend,
cancer battle in full force...

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Just Be in the Silence
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I've been practicing Centering Prayer for about two years. It has helped me in more ways than I could ever express. My question has to do with what happens in the silence between the moments I use the sacred word. In those moments in between using the word am I simply to seek to be present/attentive to the Presence of God or would this be considered a thought too?

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Centering Prayer
A Report and Reflections on the Transition Process
Julie Saad
Voices of Community

The Governing Board held an in-person meeting January 6-10, 2017 and follow-up conference call on January 24, 2017.

Tens of thousands of people are now fishing in the stream of contemplative life. We are grateful for and proud of what our founders passed on to us. The new Governing Board and the Transition Advisory Team are interested in hearing from you about how we can support and sustain you.

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Living in a Religious Vacuum
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q ... I have realised that I live in a kind of religious vacuum and I would like to reconnect with "religion" more fully. It feels like my home is in Christianity, however I am still unable to accept Christianity intellectually. ...How to proceed in this situation?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Union
Chris Plunkett
Voices of Community

I sometimes wonder
as I see the early morning frost.
Could it be that the blanket of white that covers everything Is compassion?
And the sky's soft glow after sunset is empathy?

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Contemplative Spirituality
The Story of the Cloak: A legend Attributed to St. Bridget, Patroness of Ireland, circa 452 – 525
Fionnuala Quinn, OP
Voices of Community

As the story is told, Brigid went to the King of Leinster to tell him she needed land upon which to build a monastery.

"You do, you do," replied the king. "How much do you need?"

"We need only the land my cloak will cover – no more," she answered.

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
What is Being “Welcomed” in the Practice of the Welcoming Prayer?
Cherry Haisten
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  What is being welcomed?  What if I don't feel "welcoming" … it seems like I can't even "feel and sink into" the sensation if I'm not able to welcome? 

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Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer
Falling Asleep in Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I pray daily, at least once a day, using the Centering Prayer method. Sometimes I will fall asleep and then wake myself up abruptly from the dream state I fall into. This can happen multi-times in a single prayer session. Is this normal? Is this something to be avoided?

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Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating
Centering Prayer: A Closer Walk with Our God
Fr. Matthew J. Flatley
Voices of Community

... And so I began the journey in earnest.  The more I prayed this way, the more I wanted to pray.  I love a reflection attributed to The Little Flower, Thérèse of Lisieux, who observes, “Jesus teaches me in my heart without the noise of words.”  This was my experience.  As Catherine of Siena instructs, “Build yourself a cell in your heart and retire there to pray.”  I did just this, as a twice daily practice, and I soon went from believing to knowing. 

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Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating
God as Divine Therapist
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Fr. Keating, in his book Intimacy with God and elsewhere, develops the idea - the image - of God as Divine Therapist. Yet Fr. Keating also argues that we must not have or hold on to an image of God. How can this contradiction be reconciled?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
Concern About Welcoming Prayer and Passivity
Cherry Haisten
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I understand the Welcoming Prayer is about acceptance.  But what about change and action? If your boss treats you bad, your doctor ignores your health, if someone threatens your loved ones? Doesn't the Welcoming Prayer make us passive in situations?

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Welcoming Prayer
Difficulty in Doing a Second Sit
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I have had numerous people tell me that they have no difficulty carving space for the first sit of the day, usually in the morning. But once the day gets going it is most difficult to find time for the second sit. I myself find the second sit difficult to find time for or even to remember.

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Centering Prayer
Contemplative Collaboration
Margaret Benefiel
Voices of Community

At the initiative of Thomas Keating, the founder of Contemplative Outreach, the founders of three other major Christian contemplative organizations were invited to meet with him in early October at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado...

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
Perspective
Dian Gillmar
Voices of Community

I sit on my porch,
glimpse through the open door
a painting, “Morning for Writing Letters”

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The Difference Between Quietism & Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  How is Centering Prayer distinct from Quietism which was declared a heresy in the 18th Century?

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Centering Prayer
What are you doing here? A Centering Prayer Reflection
Neil Foley
Voices of Community

... Like so many before, I started by first seeking happiness – that illusive entity which is so physical and sensory when young. Happiness seemed to equate to pleasure, but pleasure is a fickle and fleeting ally. No sooner was I satisfied when I would desire again. Like the wind, it could be felt but not grasped. God was not in such pleasure. ...

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Spiritual Journey
Spiritual Bushwhack
Celia McBride
Voices of Community Read More. Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey
Multimedia in My Head
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  When I tried to be open to God during Centering Prayer, I usually had a concordance of biblical accounts in multimedia or silent video format in my head, or modern life of mine or others. What do you call that, if it is not Centering Prayer or I am not doing it right?

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Centering Prayer
Using a Vision in Centering Prayer Instead of a Sacred Word
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  In the last couple of weeks I find that a certain vision of a person with her/his back to me and arms stretched out toward a representation of me is an effective way to stay focused or to refocus [during Centering Prayer]. ...The sacred word was not doing what it was supposed to do...   I wonder two things: what is your response to this and do you know of anyone else with the same experience?

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Centering Prayer

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