"Man achieves the fullness of prayer not when he expresses himself, but when he lets God be most fully present in prayer. The history of mystical prayer in the East and West attests to this: St. Francis, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and in the East, for example, St. Serafim of Sarov and many others. [Pope JPII, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p.18]
"Blessed is the man whose help is from Thee. In his heart he hath disposed to ascend by steps, in the vale of tears, in the pace which he hath set. Since beatitude is nothing other than the enjoyment of the supreme good, and this supreme good is above us, no one can attain beatitude unless he rises about himself, not in body but in heart. Yet we cannot rise about ourselves unless a superior power lifts us up. No matter how well we plan our spiritual progress, nothing comes of it unless divine assistance intervenes. And divine assistance is there for those who seek it humbly and devoutly, who sigh for it in this vale of tears by fervent prayer. Prayer, then, is the mother and the beginning of the ascent. [St. Bonaventure, Mystical Opuscula I, p. 9]
Centering Prayer is an ancient technique used by the early Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers to quiet the mind, the emotions, and to allow for us to become "Silent" and "Rest in the Lord." It is in the Silence where we "BE" with God and achieve Union with Him, without our active participation of the mind and emotions... God takes over our experience.
Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO is a Cistercian (Trappist) who has written many books on Centering Prayer and there are many interviews and lectures of him on YouTube. He is the founder of www.ContemplativeOutreach.org which is an excellent resource to help anyone who is interested in progressing in the Spiritual Life, particularly with Contemplative Prayer.
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- Centering Prayer One (Beginners) - This online community begins every six months, in January and July, with the teaching of the Introductory Program for the practice of Centering Prayer. The program is followed by the reading and discussion of Fr. Thomas Keating's Centering Prayer primer, Open Mind, Open Heart, 2006 Edition. This book explains in detail the conceptual background of Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Heritage. Daily guidance, direction and support in establishing this prayer as a twice daily practice is also provided. Admission can take place at any time during the year.
Centering Prayer Two (Advanced) - This online community consists of those practitioners who already have practiced Centering Prayer twice daily for a year. It consists of a one year cycle and is the next step after the Centering Prayer One list. In this group the student will continue to receive teachings and support for the daily practice of Centering Prayer. The reading and discussion of Fr. Thomas Keating's book, Invitation to Love, explores the core material of "The Spiritual Journey," examining the process of healing the human condition through the "Divine Therapy" of contemplation that may occur with a sustained practice of Centering Prayer. This is followed by the reading and reflecting on Intimacy with God, Fr. Keating's more
advanced book on Centering Prayer. There will also be an introduction to Lectio Divina (praying Scripture), which complements Centering Prayer, and a time to spend with this practice. Questions, commentaries, and sharings are encouraged throughout the year.
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