contemplative prayer

PRAYER: Contemplative Prayer An Introduction by Thomas Merton

June 26, 2017

From Contemplative Prayer He who walks in darkness, to whom no light appears, let him trust in the Name of Yahweh, let him rely upon his God. (Isaiah 50:10) I will give them a heart to understand that I am Yahweh, and they shall be my people and I will be their God when they return to me with all their heart. (Jeremiah 24:7) The monk is a Christian who has responded to a special call from God, and has withdrawn from the more active concerns of a worldly life, in order to devote himself completely to repentance, “conversion,” metanoia, renunciation and prayer.  In positive terms, we must understand the monastic life above all as a life of prayer.  The negative elements, solitude, fasting, obedience, penance, renunciation of [...]

PRAYER: St. Teresa Of Ávila And Prayer by Ernest E. Larkin

June 19, 2017

From: The Published Articles of Ernest E. Larkin, O.Carm. Prayer is the heart of Teresa of Avila’s life and teaching, her “way of perfection.” For her, prayer is the supreme meaning and value of human existence, since it is the inner life that animates the exterior, the journey within that is the journey into reality. Prayer is life before it is an exercise, a dimension of being before it is an experience. Prayer means to be in touch with the Center of one’s life, who is “the Divine Majesty” dwelling in his own rooms in the depths of the interior castle, the figure for ourselves. This contact deep within where we merge with God and are transformed into God-centered persons makes us the “new creation” of Pauline theology and [...]

PRAYER: The Contemplative Life by Thomas Keating

September 6, 2016

From The Transformation of Suffering Everybody who does centering prayer always asks, How can I be a contemplative in everyday life, with its noise, turmoil, and constant interruptions?  How can I be interiorly quiet when the world is getting noisier and the pace of life faster? The answer is to slow down and pray more.  Prayer has the great advantage of giving us a perspective on what we have to do.  If we practice contemplative prayer every day, we find that we have more time for everything else.  This is because we were doing a lot of things that we don’t really have to do.  Contemplative prayer cultivates the gift of discernment.  Spiritual discernment is not something we have to try to do; it arises spontaneously as one [...]

PRAYER: Lectio Divina And The Angelic Way by Rami Shapiro

July 16, 2016

From The Angelic Way At the heart of this book is the intuition that we are part of God, and the notion that myths regarding angels are designed to remind us of that.  The stories of angels descending to Earth and taking on human form, the stories of humans ascending to Heaven and becoming angels, the stories of humans ascending to Heaven to see God, and the stories of humans ascending to Heaven and then returning to Earth to guide humanity are all pointing to a single truth: humanity and God belong to a singular reality, and each has the capacity to reach the other. In other words, the relationship between humanity and God is analogous to that between the positive and negative poles of a magnet.  A magnet cannot be a magnet without [...]

DIVINE FRIENDSHIP: Ours For The Receiving by M. Basil Pennington

July 28, 2015

From: Centered Living A question I am often asked when Centering Prayer is referred to as a “method of contemplative prayer” is: Can we force God to give us contemplative prayer?  We have already spoken a little about this, but I think it is worth returning to the subject. First of all, “a method of contemplative prayer” might not be the best way to describe Centering Prayer.  There are many different notions of just what contemplative prayer is, the term being used to cover a broad spectrum of experiences.  So we have decided to leave the label aside and stay with the title: Centering Prayer. Surfacing in this question is a fear that has long been prevalent in our church: the fear of Pelagianism.  Pelagius was a fourth-century [...]

PRAYER: The First Step To Contemplation by John Ruysbroeck

December 19, 2014

From Reflections From the Mirror of a Mystic When the soul has arrived at true life, and all her actions are referred to the glory of God, she feels herself suddenly stirred by a desire to see what her Spouse is like, asking who and what is he who has become man for her sake?  He who has died to save her, and has given himself to her?  This Jesus, who on leaving the Earth has left her his sacraments and promised her his Kingdom; this Jesus, ever ready to provide for the needs of the body and the consolation of the soul, what is he like?  And the soul, full of questions, feels the desire of seeing her Spouse increase within her; the longing to know what he is like, what he is in himself; for the knowledge, such as it is, which she [...]

PRAYER: Contemplative Prayer — A Warning and a Precaution by Richard J. Foster

December 15, 2014

From Prayer O my divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so many things. (Jean-Nicholas Grou) Contemplative prayer immerses us into the silence of God.  How desperately we in the modern world need this wordless baptism!  We have become, as the early church father Clement of Alexandria says, like old shoes – all worn out except for the tongue.  We live in a wordy world with our sophisticated high-tech telecommunication systems.  We now have the dubious distinction of being able to communicate more and say less than any civilization in history. Isaac of Nineveh, a Syrian monk, once observed, “Those who delight in a multitude of words, even though they say admirable things, are empty within.”  We today [...]

PRAYER: Towards Contemplation

December 15, 2014

From Approaches to Prayer, Henry Morgan, editor You yourself are even another little world and have within you the sun and the moon and also the stars. (Origin) Introduction There is much confusion about terminology.  Often people use the word “meditation” when they really mean “contemplation,” while the Ignatian tradition uses the word “contemplation” when referring to what others call “meditation”! By “meditation” (sometimes “discursive meditation”) we will be referring to the active use of the mind, the feelings, the imagination, applied to a passage of scripture, or our own situation in life, or to any active way in which we try to understand God or ourselves [...]

PRAYER: How To Practice Lectio Divina by Christine Valters Paintner

December 1, 2014

From: Lectio Divina – The Sacred Art: Transforming Words and Images into Heart-Centered Prayer First Movement – Lectio: Settling & Shimmering Begin by finding a comfortable position where you can remain alert and yet also relax your body.  Bring your attention to your breath and allow a few moments to become centered.  If you find yourself distracted at any time, gently return to the rhythm of your breath as an anchor for your awareness.  Allow yourself to settle into this moment and become fully present. Read your selected scripture passage or other sacred text once or twice through slowly and listen for a work or phrase that feels significant right now, is capturing your attention even if you don’t know why. [...]

PRAYER: The Degrees Of Prayer by Evelyn Underhill

November 14, 2014

Printed for the Guild of Health, 1922 The subject of this paper is man’s fundamental spiritual activity – prayer.  Every religious mind is, of course, familiar with the idea of prayer; and in one degree or another, with the practice of it.  Yet we sometimes forget how very little we really know about it; how personal and subjective are the accounts spiritual writers give of it; how empirical and how obscure in its deepest moments, even for the best of us, our own understanding of it must be.  Here we are, little half-animal, half-spiritual creatures, mysteriously urged from within and enticed from without to communion with spiritual reality.  If and when we surrender to this craving and this attraction, we enter thereby – [...]

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: Behold! by Carl McColman

July 8, 2014

From Answering the Contemplative Call “The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything,” said Julian of Norwich.  This simple statement not only provides an important clue to the heart of mystical spirituality; it also points to the centrality of beholding as the essential contemplative practice.  Our longing for God arises out of God’s love for us – a love that beckons us to this fullness of joy, by inviting us to behold God in all. John Skinner, who translated several mystical classics including Julian of Norwich’s Revelation of Love into contemporary English, has this to say about beholding: “Perhaps the mental image to be conjured is a boy gazing with adoration across the room at the girl he knows loves him and she [...]

PRAYER: Listening by Murray Bodo

June 5, 2014

From Song of the Sparrow The art of listening.  How hard it is to cultivate.  We seem to be able to listen to others only so long before we start talking ourselves, usually about ourselves.  It is that way with prayer, too.  The hardest part is the listening, the quiet, the patience it takes to be still and wait upon God.  We always want to start talking, and yet what more can we say beyond the words Christ gave us in the “Our Father”?  If we spent time in prayer saying the “Our Father” once and then listening for the remainder of the time we set aside for prayer, it would be one of the best disciplines possible in learning to pray.  But we are uncomfortable with silence, with waiting for the other to speak. [...]

THE DARK NIGHT: The Way Of The Night by Wilfrid McGreal

May 21, 2014

From John of the Cross The way of nada is the way of the night, the way of faith.  The word “night” is perhaps one of the most powerful in John’s teaching and yet it can be off-putting.  The night is not a denial of life, but rather through the night we seek a way that will lead to union with God, the Beloved.  This is a union that can best be described as a Mystical Marriage.  Night stands as a symbol for purification, for escape from all that is negative, and it is also a place where true light is encountered.  Again, to understand what is really meant by night in John’s writing then the reader must see what is implied by faith. Faith, for John, was part of our deepest self that is willing to accept truths [...]

THE DARK NIGHT: What To Do—The Teaching Of Saint John Of The Cross by Thomas Merton

May 20, 2014

From The Inner Experience Saint John of the Cross explains in great detail how the soul should behave in order to accept this great gift of God and make use of it without spoiling his work.  It is very important to have competent guidance and instruction in the ways of contemplative prayer.  Otherwise it will be almost impossible to avoid errors and obstacles.  The reason for this is that no matter how good the intentions of the soul may be, its natural coarseness and clumsiness still prevent it from sensing the full import of the delicate work performed by God’s love within its most intimate depths and cooperating with his action. The most important thing of all is to get some realization of what God is doing in your soul.  Learn [...]

PRAYER: Everyone Is Called To Inward Prayer by Jeanne Guyon

September 9, 2013

From A Short and Easy Method of Prayer Which All Can Practice Very Easily and Through Which All Can Arrive in a Short Time to a High Perfection 1. Everyone is capable of inward contemplative prayer, and it is a terrible shame that almost all people have it in their heads not to do it.  We are all called to this prayer as we are all called to eternal life.  Contemplative prayer is nothing more than heartfelt affection and love.  What is necessary is to love God and to focus on him.  Saint Paul orders us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)  Our Lord says, “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch.” (Mark 13:33-37)  Everyone can, therefore, perform contemplative prayer and must do so.  But I understand that not [...]

SERMON: The Heart Of Prayer by Francis de Sales

March 24, 2013

I still have to point out the distinction that exists in prayer, whether mental or vocal prayer.  In prayer we go to God in two ways, both of which have been recommended to – namely, sometimes we pray directly to God, and at other times indirectly, as when we say the anthems of our lady, the Salve Regina and others.  When we pray directly we exercise the filial confidence which is founded upon faith, hope, and charity; when we pray indirectly and through the intercession of another, we practice the holy humility which springs from self-knowledge.  When we go directly to God we proclaim his goodness and mercy, in which we place all our confidence; but when we pray indirectly, that is, when we implore the assistance of our lady, of the [...]

SERMON: The Thomist Football League by Martin Thornton

February 28, 2013

From A Joyful Heart: Meditations for Lent For the sake of the uninitiated let me explain the ramifications of the English football league.  For any possible transatlantic reader it should not be too difficult to translate the analogy into the American game (this might be more difficult when we get on to cricket). The league comprises ninety-two clubs divided into four divisions.  The first division consists of the best, the top grade, and the most wealthy, with magnificent grounds and stadia.  The second division is roughly the same but not quite, and we shall see the significance of this later.  It is also important to see that there are subtle variations within these two divisions themselves, as well as something of an overlap. [...]

LENTEN FIRE: Friday Of The First Week Of Lent

February 23, 2013

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  The remedy When Amoun was living as a solitary in Nitria, a child suffering from rabies was brought to him, bound with a chain.  For a rabid dog had bitten him and given him the disease.  His suffering was so unbearable that his whole body was convulsed by it.  When Amoun saw the child’s parents coming to entreat him, he said, “Why are you troubling me, my friends, seeking something which is beyond my merits, when the remedy lies in your own hands?  Give back to the widow the ox that you have killed surreptitiously, and your child will be restored to you in good health.”  Their crime having thus been exposed, they happily did what they had [...]

PRAYER: On Meditation by Thomas Merton

February 7, 2013

From Contemplative Prayer In meditation we do not seek to know about God as though he were an object like other objects which submit to our scrutiny and can be expressed in clear scientific ideas.  We seek to know God himself, beyond the level of all the objects which  he has made and which confront us as “things” isolated from one another, “defined,” “delimited,” with clear boundaries.  The infinite God has no boundaries and our minds cannot set limits to him or to his love.  His presence is then “grasped” in the general awareness of loving faith; it is “realized” without being scientifically and precisely known, as we know a specimen under a microscope.  His presence [...]

ADVENT FIRE: December 10

December 10, 2012

From Becoming Fire: Through the Year with the Desert Fathers and Mothers  Things Contrary to Nature Abba Poemen said, “God has given this way of life to Israel: to abstain from things that are contrary to nature, that is, anger, rage, envy, hatred, slander against one’s brother, and the remaining vices of the old self. (Romans 6:6) The World A brother asked Abba Isaiah, “How ought I maintain contemplative quiet in my cell?” The old man answered, “In order to maintain contemplative quiet in your cell, you have to abandon yourself before God and do everything in your power to resist every thought sown by the Enemy.  This, indeed, is what it means to flee the world.” The brother said, “What is the world?” The old man [...]

MYSTICISM: Teresa of Ávila, or Love’s Madness

February 15, 2012

I have never been one to shake my fist at man and yell out, why don’t you believe in God, the almighty, the one who loves you absolutely?  To me it has always been fairly obvious – the causes of this near-to-complete divorce proceeding that our culture likes to keep in court, drawing out the litigation, airing the seemingly eternal complaints against God, the history, the agony. To me it’s simple: God is absolute; man is relative.  We are the ones, after all, who get to hear the ticking of the clock.  Who get to feel the streaking pain in our bodies.  Who get to know the shock of watching a loved one leave us. God, on the other hand, experiences nothing in terms of time.  Experiences nothing in terms of his own pain. [...]

CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER: Unity vs. Wholeness

December 16, 2011

I took the following definition of centering prayer off the website Centering Prayer, ostensibly the website dedicated to the teachings of Father Thomas Keating, one of the priests who began the teaching of contemplative prayer in the modern age.  The definition goes: Centering prayer is a method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself.  This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. I find within this definition a perfect expression of our relationship with God: through this kind of prayer we experience [...]