1: Introduction – The School of Divine Love

Hilma af Klint, The Evolution, No. 10, 1909


I came so that you may have life
and have it more abundantly.

– John 10:10

 

“In growing up we … did not even know that God was actually present within us; we had to look elsewhere for the security, affirmation and freedom that only the divine Presence can provide. The spiritual journey is a training in consent to God’s presence and to all reality. …

“This gradual training in consent is the school of divine love in which God invites us to accept the divine plan to share the divine life with us in a way that transcends all that the human imagination can foresee.”
– Thomas Keating, Invitation from God

The vision of Contemplative Outreach is to embrace the process of transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others, through the practice of Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer initiates a process of interior transformation that is both healing and empowering. A restructuring of consciousness takes place wherein one is able to perceive, relate and respond to everyday life with increasing sensitivity to the divine Presence in, through and beyond everything that happens.

We seem to be born with a deep innate yearning; a yearning so strong that it first thrusts us into life in the pursuit of happiness in all manner of ways. And then, something happens. We find that satisfactions in life do not fulfill this yearning. Yet it persists. When we say Yes to the continuous and regular practice of Centering Prayer, something within our inmost being begins to stir and then changes occur – in meaning, perceptions, attitudes, even temperament. And we find ourselves on a different journey – into our inmost selves and the heart of all reality.

 

Entry into The Journey

I know well the plans that I have for you …
plans for your welfare, not for woe!
Plans to give you a future full of hope.
– Jeremiah 29:11

What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of a human life? Where is the fullness of life to be found? All the great questions of life can be approached, explored and experienced by embarking on the spiritual journey. However, first one must become aware that there is even such a thing as a spiritual journey, an awareness that Fr. Thomas says has been “monumentally” absent in Christianity in the last few centuries. He goes on to say, “Christian religion [is] a life to be lived, a relationship with God to be developed and enjoyed. The most important fruit of … training should be a thorough knowledge, understanding and experience of the spiritual journey in the Christian tradition so … [we] can transmit the Christian life as experience.” (Introduction to 1012 Monastery Road)

To Practice

– View the 9.4-minute video What is Centering Prayer and How Do We Do It? with Mary Dwyer. A transcript of the video is provided for you (see below for both).

– Reflect upon your lifetime spiritual experiences, the highpoints and the low points, that brought you to today. Where are you in relationship to God, yourself and all reality? Later, throughout your journey through this program, you may wish to return to your reflections and see if they are changing.

Resources for Further Study:

For this entry into the spiritual journey, you may wish to read:

  1. The Introduction, Chapter 1, “Dimensions of Contemplative Prayer” and Chapter 11, “An Overview of Contemplative Prayer in The Christian Tradition,” in Open Mind, Open Heart (20th anniversary edition), The Introduction, Chapters 2 and 3 in older editions.
  2. The Introduction, in Invitation to Love
  3. The Introduction in Intimacy with God (2017 edition) or Chapter 1, “The Origins of Centering Prayer,” in older editions

Video

What is Centering Prayer and How Do We Do It? with Mary Dwyer, 9.4 mins.


Download Video

 

Transcript

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Additional Resources

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