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.""
Q: A friend is a marathon runner. He says he prays as he runs and he comes to a place of peace where miles seem to go by and he is unaware of them. He wanted to know if one always has to sit for it to be Centering Prayer. Or perhaps he was asking if he had reached a contemplative state. I told him I didn't know, that he might be having a "runners high." However, the way he asked the question made me think something different was happening to him. I know real contemplative things happen to us when
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.
I began practicing Centering Prayer after reading Open Mind, Open Heart, but I do not believe it would have become the center of my life had it not been for Contemplative Outreach - everything ... the community, most importantly, the sense that there are all of these people connected by the love of God and through this prayer. It has supported me and strengthened me for the journey. It’s a difficult journey. There are a lot of bumps along the road. At first it may seem like it’s going to be an easy thing and I felt like I had finally found the right way to go. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be, but through all the programs that are offered through Contemplative Outreach, the teachings of Fr. Thomas, the retreats, all the classes that we have here, the practices for daily life – the Welcoming Prayer, the Forgiveness Prayer – all the things to deepen the practice – all of that has made it possible for me to continue on this journey.
La importancia de Contemplative Outreach
Empecé a practicar la Oración Centrante después de leer Open Mind, Open Heart, pero no creo que se hubiera vuelto el centro de mi vida si no fuera por Contemplative Outreach – todo… la comunidad, y lo que es más importante, el sentido de que existen todas estas personas conectadas por el amor a Dios y por medio de la oración. Me ha sostenido y me ha fortalecido para el viaje. Es un viaje difícil. Se avanza a los tumbos. Al principio parece que va a ser fácil y yo sentía que finalmente había encontrado la forma correcta de conducirme. No me daba cuenta de lo difícil que sería, pero todos los programas que ofrece Contemplative Outreach, las enseñanzas del Padre Thomas, los retiros, todas las clases que tenemos aquí, las prácticas para la vida diaria – la Oración Centrante, la Oración del Perdón – todas las cosas destinadas a profundizar en nuestra práctica – todas ellas son las que han hecho posible que yo continúe en este viaje.
I loved to go lobster fishing with my uncle. I loved being out on the open water; the fresh sea air, the confident growl of the engine, the lobster boat churning through the waves.
My uncle had the fastest lobster boat at the wharf. He had a 454 Oldsmobile Rocket Power engine in a 40 ft wooden boat, and no cabin. When he hit the throttle, the bow of the boat would come out of the water, and that boat would just fly.
Q: What is your position on bringing in people of many different faiths to our Centering Prayer groups? When there is an interest in learning Centering Prayer, are we to concern ourselves with the interested parties’ religious background, e.g. whether or not they are Christian?
Many years ago while taking a morning hike on Mt Tamalpais, north of San Francisco, I felt the urge to sit down and to silently pray to the Lord. I found an outcrop among the bushes and left the trail. I sat down and put on my jacket. I settled down and began my Centering Prayer period. Some time later, while lost in silent prayer, an unusual thought crept into my mind - the sense that there was some movement outside. I returned ever-so-gently to my sacred word.
God is Already Here - The realization that we know very little about the universe grows as we experience the presence of God everywhere. When we see God everywhere, we don’t care about knowledge. That divine presence enables us to forget ourselves and enter into collaboration with the creation of
Contemplative Outreach News, December 2015
Fr. Keating: God is Already Here
Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler: Contemplative Lessons from My Dog
In this silent moment
see how the palm tree
has shrugged off old bark,
how trim and stately it stands
against an azure sky,
comes the next moment
and the next—
the mind races ahead
or remembers yesterday
when you left—
then returns to quiet,
only the palm tree and sky.
- Dian Gillmar
Breathe in --
the tide rolls out
to the Mother Sea of Source
in air-sucking return
to the oceanic womb of life,
like a uterine contraction
at three centimeters dilation