Articles

Title Series Preview Category
Prayer Groups in the Era of Social Distancing
Lindsay Boyer
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Many of us have been struggling with questions about whether our contemplative prayer groups should continue to meet in light of the current situation and these decisions are increasingly being taken out of our hands as churches decide to close. 

As someone who teaches on spirituality and digital media at General Theological Seminary and who has led prayer groups by video, teleconference, email and Facebook for a number of years, I’d like to offer some suggestions about the many ways we can continue to stay connected in prayer during this challenging time. 

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Prayer Groups, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality
Contemplative Outreach Q&A’s Contributors
Isabelle Robinson
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

We've recently expanded our roster of long-time Centering Prayer practitioners who can answer your questions about contemplative practice and the spiritual journey.

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Prayer Groups, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality
Lent and Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Do you have any suggestions for the season of Lent that can be an encouragement for my practice of Centering Prayer?

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Liturgy
Intercessory Prayers
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

When saying grace, in my private prayer after Eucharist, and during evening and night prayer, I ask for intercession. Yet I wonder whether this doesn't reflect a lack of trust in God, and conflict with my sincere acceptance of the presence and action of God in my life. I just don't think that I am in need of asking for God's help. God's loving help is always there. On the other hand, I also wonder whether such prayers are other reminders that we are all in God's hands.

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
Centering Prayer and Other Types of Prayer
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

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? 

 

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina
Centering Prayer and Other Types of Prayer
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

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? 

 

Read More.
Night of the Sense and Night of the Spirit
Fr. Carl Arido
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I recently read Fr. Daniel Renaud's article on "Desire and Everyday Mysticism" and I see that over 25 years of Christian life I started on the positive way with lots of consolation and wonder, along with a daily experience of the transformative way. When I felt called to practice Centering Prayer, I started listening to Fr. Keating's “The Spiritual Journey” and began to practice. Much to my dismay, I fell immediately into the Dark Night (the negative way). After several years of Dark Night and slow emergence, I did not " wake up to find that the ocean of nothingness [of the Dark Night] is the ocean of God's invincible and unconditional love in you, and you have become everything, including God and all creation" (as Fr. Keating describes); for the first time in 25 years of Christian faith, I don't have confidence that God is a reliable foundation for my daily personal life. I am concerned that if I have somehow and failed to this first round of the Dark Night I may need to adjust some underlying attitude or practice in order to make space to regain or rebuild my relationship with God. Do you have any guidance or resources that might help?

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
The Use of a Sacred Image During Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I am a trying to get a handle on Centering Prayer. Is it OK to use the imagery that comes into my head when I sit, e.g., God as Father - perhaps on the lap of God, or being held by God, etc?

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating
Centering Prayer and Trauma
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I have been practicing Centering Prayer for 12 years, and recently I have been praying for the transformation process to hurry up. To put it more politely, for removal of barriers to union. The resulting unloading seems to bring another re- experiencing of emotions related to personal and generational trauma, whose emotionality has temporarily reduced my ability to cope with some family events. When I sit with the feelings and allow myself to notice God there, I experience a sort of sigh: Thy will be done. [What] about the use of outside resources like 12-Steps, counseling [and others]?

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Twelve Step
The Goal of Centering Prayer
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: When I was in college in the late 60's, I used psychedelic drugs a number of times. Now when I pray with Centering Prayer, I find myself seeking the same unitive, transcendent feelings I experienced at that time. Is this a legitimate goal of Centering Prayer, and, if not, how do I recognize a true experience of the living God?

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Spiritual Journey
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?

Read More.
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)?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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.

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

 

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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. 

Read More.
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?

Read More.
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? 

Read More.
Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Spiritual Journey