Q: While I am not yet capable of Centering Prayer, my daily prayer period consists of intercessory and thanksgiving prayers as well as Scripture reading and reflection. Silence and solitude are important to me. From time to time I would suddenly become aware of something I needed to do, or write, or a call to make. I don't want to lose that thought so it would get threaded into my prayers. Is it better to interrupt and make a small note and return to prayer or to try and dampen the persistent reminder?
A: Silence and solitude seem to be an essential element in your desire for intimacy with God. You must cherish those moments. I sense that you are faithful to your periods of prayer, whatever they may be, and that there is a conversational quality to them. It is not uncommon to get insights, reminders or suggestions during those prayer exchanges.
If you were practicing Centering Prayer, I would suggest that you gently return to the sacred word and let your thoughts come and let them go, trusting that they will still be there after your time of prayer. In your own prayers of praise, petition, contrition and thanksgiving, I would recommend taking a brief break to write down that insight, ponder it for a moment and return ever so gently to your prayer. Afterwards you can reflect on your writing and discern what the Lord is asking you to do, almost like you would in Lectio Divina. I think that those of us — to use your phrase — who are able to practice Centering Prayer sometimes underestimate the power of intercessory prayer and other types of prayer, so your question gives us an opportunity to celebrate and appreciate them. Fr. Keating himself emphasized the fact that Centering Prayer was not meant to replace other type of prayers, but to enrich them.
In the meantime, cherish the moments of silence and solitude of this holy season.
Blessings, Fr Carl