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God's Action Within
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I keep reading about "Gods action within." What does that mean? What does it look like? How can I know it?

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Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating
Struggling with Thoughts During the Night
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I just read Fr. Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart book. What should I do during the night, while lying in bed, and I find myself with a bunch of general thoughts going on, as well as "engaged" thoughts? I tried using a sacred word when I found myself with an engaged thought, but then the action(s) made me more awake, and I was up for an hour or more trying to fall back to sleep. 

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Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating, The Active Prayer Practice
The Maturation of the Sacred Word
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

During my Centering Prayer practice, I notice that my sacred word can change, become vague, become softer, a bit different, or more subtle, like there is no word, but only the energy. If I TRY for the word to become CLEAR, then I lose my practice and depth, and the word becomes a mantra -- something for attention, but not intention or surrender. Is that ok?

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Centering Prayer
Why Meditation/Contemplation?
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I've been practicing meditation/contemplation for more than twenty years. As of late, I am periodically troubled by the question "why am I doing this, i.e., contemplation?" The question is in the context of why God wants us to perform what appears to be an act outside of what would be a normal life, i.e., an artificial act. Why is it needed and for what purpose or ultimate value? 

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Spiritual Journey
Extending Time in Centering Prayer
Mary Dwyer
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

What insight does CO have in regards to increasing one's practice to two to three hours per day? Our only insight into this is that it is more like an intensive retreat setting ... 

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Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey
The Welcoming Prayer and Taking Action
Welcoming Prayer Service Team
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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Centering Prayer and the Transformation of Suffering
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I've been a Centering Prayer practitioner for several years and I've just finished reading The Better Part - Stages of Contemplative Living by Fr. Keating. I think that I've been going through the Night of Sense for the past few months. My question is whether the suffering (if that's the correct word) that I've felt by not having the desires of my false self met, can be considered "suffering", and considered as "redemptive suffering"?

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Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey, Father Thomas Keating
The Original Blessing
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

... When I asked what made them want to be baptized by full immersion, I fully expected them to say “because they love God”; instead the reply was a simple childish “so we don’t have to go to the H—- place." I was shocked and didn’t know how to respond in a simple explanation, without undermining their parent's faith. How can I explain one-ness and original blessing to them?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Back to Basics
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I heard at the CO September 2017 conference that Fr. Thomas is emphasizing a return to the basics.  What does this mean in your view?

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Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
The Difference Between Centering Prayer and Dom John Main's Christian Meditation
Fr. Thomas Keating
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

... In regard to the use of a prayer word or phrase by which one disposes oneself to the grace of contemplation, I note that there is a difference in these approaches as regards the actual handling of the prayer word. On the one hand there is the approach of John Main and Lawrence Freeman, which as I understand it, advocates the attentive repetition of a particular sacred word. ... In contrast to these, the method taught in "Centering Prayer" explicitly indicates that the sacred word is not a "mantra" to be repeated, but rather a symbol of one's intention, (to consent to God's presence and action) to which one returns upon noticing one's mind wandering willy nilly.... I wonder if you might be so kind as to give me your take on this difference.

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Lectio Divina and Attuning to the Spirit
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Recently I attended a poetry gathering … The young man who teaches poetry used Lectio Divina as a method to find interpretation of the poetry and called it that. If he had called it repetition and discernment, perhaps I would not have had difficulty with it. However, he did not use Scripture but secular poetry. I did some research on Lectio Divina and found that it is misused in many contexts and by different faith structures. Would you please comment on the use of Lectio Divina?

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality
What Texts to Use With Lectio Divina
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I've been listening to The Spiritual Journey on CD's and watching DVD's to become thoroughly familiar with Centering Prayer.  I am praying Lectio Divina, per Fr. Keating's guidelines of the 4 R's (Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest).  Is Lectio [used with] only the four Gospels, or does it include all of Sacred Scripture?  Sometimes I am greatly attracted to an Old Testament reading or one of the writings of St. Paul and wondered if those texts are part of Lectio.

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina
Thomas Keating & The Three Biological Needs
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Thomas Keating identifies three essential biological needs for human beings: (1) Security & Survival, (2) Power & Control, and (3) Affection & Esteem.  Can you please tell me if these biological needs are Fr. Keating's own creation or did he borrow them from another source?

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Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey, Father Thomas Keating
Distinguishing Awareness and Presence
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I would like to understand more clearly what Fr. Keating means when he says that the ever present awareness is: "Not really awareness at all, it's just presence".

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Praying to the Old Man on the Throne?
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  Recently, when I concluded my session of Centering Prayer and recited the Lord's Prayer, as is my custom, I was struck by the disparity between the Trinity in Whom and with Whom I had just been abiding, and the "God in heaven" who seemed to resume his cloak of an old white man on a throne far, far away.  Am I taking the opening of the Lord's Prayer too literally? 

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina
Welcoming & Security Issues
Pamela Begeman
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I need help. Every day I pray the Welcoming Prayer. I trip up at "I let go my desire for security and survival." I'm a mother. How can I "let go" of something so imbued in my mothering DNA?

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Welcoming Prayer
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament & Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I am fairly new to the practice of Centering Prayer.  In my Catholic faith I participate weekly in the Adoration of our Lord through the Eucharist.   I feel at times the urge to practice my Centering Prayer during this quiet hour of adoration.   Is the practice of Centering Prayer during adoration contrary to the intentions of either adoration and/or Centering Prayer?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Placing Your Attention IN
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I have been doing Centering Prayer for 6+months now, and have hit a bit of a road block. In reading Cynthia Bourgeault's book, The Heart of  Centering Prayer, and after a few days of intense Centering Prayer, I am now unsure about a particular aspect of Centering Prayer...I am having a difficult time in my Centering Prayer practice with this lack of clarity in the focus and aim of the practice.

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Centering Prayer
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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Centering Prayer
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
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
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
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
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