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Why Attend Multi-Day Retreats?
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Throughout the year we have opportunities to attend days of prayer. What do extended retreats add to the spiritual journey that reading books, attending Centering Prayer groups and workshops don't? How often do you recommend going on retreat?

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Centering Prayer, Retreats
Centering Prayer and Other Types of Meditation
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I did Centering Prayer for some years but with family (care-giving) responsibilities, I stopped because my head was always spinning and I couldn't get centered. So, I will soon go on a Centering Prayer retreat to get going again, but would you consider other generic types of meditation as having the same effect/value as Centering Prayer (even non-religious meditation, i.e., just focusing on breath)?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Experiencing Peace in Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

People practicing Centering Prayer speak of experiencing a sense of peace. Can you please comment?

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Centering Prayer
Books, Retreats and Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I've been doing Centering Prayer faithfully for over 20 years. Now I rarely read, haven't been to a retreat in 5-10 years, etc.  Why?

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Eight Contemplative Attitudes and Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I am reading all I can about the process...as well as doing it twice daily.. I have examined closely the "contemplative attitudes" such as opening/gentleness/simplicity etc.... is it ok ,i.e. is it part of the prayer, to refresh the memory of eight contemplative attitudes at the front end of the process?

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Often I am more aware of my pulse than my breath
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I have used the sacred word and the sacred breath at different times in my practice of centering prayer. But often I am more aware of my pulse than my breath, and have used "the sacred pulse" in my practice. Is there anything wrong with this? Have other people found this helpful?

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My prayer has not gone to a deeper level
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I have been doing centering prayer faithfully for a number of years.  However, I am still operating on the surface, as a beginner.

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It seems the interest to do Centering Prayer has died
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I had been practicing Centering Prayer since 2008. But for the past year it seems the interest to do it has died. I would rather say the rosary or chaplet of Divine Mercy. Please help me, how can I start again?

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The Contemplative Dimension of Giving
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  During this time when giving has so much to do with emptying shelves and wallets, what is the contemplative dimension of giving?

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Contemplative Spirituality
Exploring Other Traditions
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I am a Christian contemplative, but find myself increasingly drawn to Buddhist meditation, but am afraid that I am deserting God as there is no emphasis on God in this Atisha Kadampa school. Would it be advisable to attend these classes or do you think it may harm my Christian walk?

 

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
The Active Prayer Practice
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: The active prayer is my daily "go to" practice along with Centering Prayer. Can you please clarify the differences and similarities between receptive and active contemplative practices, and how they can complement each other? Can the active prayer actually become a receptive practice?

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Centering Prayer, The Active Prayer Practice
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
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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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
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
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
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