Contemplative spirituality can be defined as a life of faith in interior submission to God and pervading all one's motivations and behavior; a life of prayer and action prompted by the inspirations of the Holy Spirit; a disposition not limited to devotional practices, rituals, liturgy, or other particular acts of piety or service to others, but rather the catalyst that integrates, unifies and directs all one's activities. Gerald May, M.D., expresses it this way: "The Christian expression is in the two great commandments: to love God with one’s whole self and to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Theologically, spirituality is our desire for love’s fulfillment which, in turn, is our response to God’s loving us first (1 Jn 4:19). We participate in the divine love that created us "so that we might seek God" (Acts 17:27). Further, the Christian contemplative tradition views God as always active in our lives, inviting, drawing and empowering us towards deepening love. ... In a Christian context, because we "live and move and have our being" in God (Acts 17:28), being present to things as they are involves encountering the Christ who "fills the whole creation" (Eph. 1:23). In other words, Christian contemplation means finding God in all things and all things in God. Brother Lawrence, the 17th century Carmelite friar, called it "the loving gaze which finds God everywhere.""
At the initiative of Thomas Keating, the founder of Contemplative Outreach, the founders of three other major Christian contemplative organizations were invited to meet with him in early October at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado: Tilden Edwards of the Shalem Institute, Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation, and Laurence Freeman of The World Community of Christian Meditation.
I sit on my porch,
glimpse through the open door
a painting, “Morning for Writing Letters”,
a flask of coffee, the back of a chair,
a blue and rust-colored afghan
on the back of the sofa, a Chinese chest
painted red with black decorative characters.
All these things seen through the door
are both mine and not mine.
Q: What the heck is one supposed to do if one just doesn't like people and humanity? Seemingly making some progress in my practice, desire closer relationship with God, but can't get past the stupidity, smallness, greed, ignorance of most people, or the self-destructiveness of the race? How can anyone love this sorry lot?
Voices of Grace & Gratitude are joyful expressions of grace and gratitude from the worldwide community of Contemplative Outreach for the gift of Centering Prayer in their lives and its meaning for all creation. A new video will be presented every Monday. May they serve to lift your hearts.
For about eight years I had a Buddhist meditation practice and then I heard about Centering Prayer and Contemplative Outreach and I knew immediately that it was for me! So, through the teaching of Fr. Thomas [Keating] I learned that contemplative prayer is my heritage as a Christian. And so, Contemplative Outreach is not only my community now but our ancestors and the community of saints. I learned from them not only through their love and worship of God but also through their experience of God which is the deep-abiding love that’s ever-present to all of us, all of the time. No matter where we think we’re going on this journey, the experience of love encourages us and leads us into a life of contemplative service so that no matter what it is that we do we do out of the love of God and that’s what we contribute to the world.
La Oración Contemplativa – Patrimonio de todos los cristianos
Durante aproximadamente ocho años practiqué meditación budista, y luego escuché acerca de la Oración Centrante y Contemplative Outreach ¡y supe inmediatamente que era para mi! Así es que, gracias a las enseñanzas del Padre Thomas [Keating] aprendí que la oración contemplativa era parte de mi herencia como cristiana. Ahora Contemplative Outreach no es solo mi comunidad sino que también representa a mis ancestros y a la comunidad de los santos. He aprendido de ellos, no solo de su amor y adoración a Dios sino también de su experiencia de Dios, que es ese amor imperecedero siempre presente para todos nosotros en todo momento. No importa hacia dónde pensemos que nos dirigimos en este viaje, experimentar el amor nos alienta y conduce a una vida de servicio contemplativo, de tal modo que cualquier cosa que hagamos la haremos por amor a Dios, y esa será nuestra contribución al mundo.
Q: I am 79 years old widow and am still working part time … I enjoy my work. However, I know that sometime soon (?) I need to plan my retirement date. Health is good. I am beginning to gather information about nice senior living centers [in other cities]. My son, who is the more reliable of my two children lives near one of the senior centers. However, my church, my friends, my YMCA are all here in [my city]. How do I make a decision? How do I pray?
Q: In Gail Fitzpatrick-Hoper's delightful essay "Contemplative Lessons from My Dog" (Contemplative Outreach News, Dec. 2015), she describes how her dog exemplifies the surrendered life. As a life-long pet-owner, I totally get it. My question is this: Does the dog have no self or no reflected sense of self? I realize this query is spiritual hair-splitting, but I hope to clarify my current understanding.
"I became aware of how powerful Centering Prayer was because it was a container for my consenting to not only God's presence in my life, but also God's action in my life."
- Carl J. Arico 1
Silent prayer is a special time. It is our time to sit with God. It is like sitting quietly with a friend. No words need to be said.
“You put your right hand in, you put your right hand out. You put your right hand in and you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around. That’s what it’s all about!”
The basket made its way around the circle of women and came to me. I pulled out a strip of paper and read, “What if the hokey pokey really IS what it’s all about?”