Books, Retreats and Centering Prayer

Series: 
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I've been doing Centering Prayer faithfully for over 20 years.  In the first 10-15 years I was hungry for information and read just about every book on spirituality and Christian meditation I could get my hands on.  I went to retreats, intensive retreats, mini-retreats, Fr. Keating presentations (when he came to our city) and anything else that would "feed" me.  I was in a "taking" mode.   Now I rarely read, haven't been to a retreat in 5-10 years, etc.  Why?  Because it feels like it's my time to "live out" (bumble along) with all that I've learned.  To give back somehow.  What do you think?  Am I just fooling myself?  Too lazy? Too arrogant?  Should I be hitting those books?  Signing up for retreats?

A: How blessed you are to have been given the gift of fidelity - 20 years of companioning with God through Centering Prayer.

Your question is a difficult one to respond to in a generic way. We all have experienced the initial enthusiasm of wanting to read every book and attend every retreat that is offered. Then comes a time, when the latest books, retreats and conferences, no longer feed you anything new, when we need time to absorb what we have learned and experienced. In that quiet space we are reminded of what fed us, and we embrace the essence of that feast as it lives in us. Re-reading "the oldies but goodies" on Centering Prayer never disappoints and always brings up new insights.

When you ask: “What do you think? Am I just fooling myself? Too lazy? Too arrogant? Should I be hitting those books? Signing up for retreats?”. I believe these are promptings from the Holy Spirit. I will share with you Fr Thomas' recommendation: "It is always good to get back to the basics." So I would suggest re-reading, ever-so-gently, Open Mind, Open Heart, and maybe The Mystery of Christ and Invitation to Love. Make time, if you are able, to experience once again the power of an intensive Centering Prayer retreat. Treasure these experiences now on a deeper level, and celebrate the new life that is been given to you.

Blessings, Fr Carl