M. Basil Pennington

PRAYER: Private Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 25, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer Choose a text of the scriptures that you wish to pray.  Many Christians use in their daily lectio Divina one of the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible.  It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours. Place yourself in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent.  Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; others have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent.  For some Centering [...]

PRAYER: The Underlying Rhythm Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 18, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer If we are to practice lectio Divina effectively, we must travel back in time to an understanding that today is in danger of being almost completely lost.  In the Christian past the words action (or practice, from the Greek praktikos) and contemplation did not describe different kinds of Christians engaging (or not engaging) in different forms of prayer and apostolates.  Practice and contemplation were understood as the two poles of our underlying, ongoing spiritual rhythm: a gentle oscillation back and forth between spiritual “activity” with regard to God and “receptivity.” Practice – spiritual “activity” – referred in ancient times to our active cooperation with God’s grace in [...]

PRAYER: The Process Of Lectio Divina by M. Basil Pennington

February 11, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer A very ancient art, practiced at one time by all Christians, is the technique known as lectio Divina – a slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God.  This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, enabling us to discover in our daily life an underlying spiritual rhythm.  Within this rhythm we discover an increasing ability to offer more of ourselves to God, and to accept the embrace that God is continuously extending to us in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ. Lectio (reading / listening) The art of lectio Divina begins with cultivating the ability to listen deeply, to hear “with [...]

PRAYER: The Prodigal Father by M. Basil Pennington

February 4, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer As Jesus spoke a very mixed crowd gathered around.  On the fringes were the big shots, the Pharisees who had all the answers, the scribes who knew the law, and the priests, the holy ones.  They looked down on the motley crew pressing in to hear Jesus – a sinful crowd that did not know the law. What was more painful to Jesus was the fact that many of the poor little ones who were listening to him readily believed that they were indeed the sinful ones.  They knew their sins too well.  They longed to hear words that would bring them peace. Jesus told them then this story. A rich man had two sons.  The older was a very righteous lad, painfully faithful to his duties.  He knew he was the firstborn [...]

PRAYER: It Begins With Faith by M. Basil Pennington

January 28, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer Through this little book we have been listening to the Lord.  Jesus has told us that he and the Father dwell with us, that they want to refresh us, that all things are ours and we are God’s.  We can believe all that, we know it is all true, because God has given us the gift we call faith. Faith is the ability the Lord gives us to know something is true because God has said it.  It is a precious gift because it lets us in on a whole lot – really, on the whole story: “I have made known to you all that my Father has made known to me.” Like our muscles or our minds, faith is a gift that grows by use.  Faith comes from hearing and it grows by hearing.  Each day we want to grow in faith.  [...]

PRAYER: Coming Home by M. Basil Pennington

January 21, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer One of the young men who headed east in the course of the fifth century was a wealthy young man from Dalmatia who had gone to Rome to study – John Cassian by name.  John traveled widely in what we call today Asia Minor and Syria, and finally he settled in a monastery near Bethlehem.  But he was far from satisfied.  He set out again on a seven-year quest only to return to his monastery still filled with longing.  His third journey took him into the depths of the Egyptian desert where he sought out the fabled fathers of the desert.  There he came upon a wise old man who was said to be the holiest, oldest, and wisest of the fathers: Abba Isaac. John and his traveling companion Little Herman [...]

PRAYER: The True Self by M. Basil Pennington

January 14, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer When we were born – of course, most of us don’t remember it for ourselves, though it is all written deep in our memories – we experienced ourselves as little bundles of need.  We needed warmth, we needed stroking, we needed nurture.  All these things were very important to us.  And we yowled to get them. And most of us got them. Our consciousness expanded.  The persons who supplied these needs became very important to us.  There was a deep bonding. As we grew and our consciousness continued to expand, we became aware of how important were the things we did, our doings.  We learned that if we acted in a certain way, people would give us what we wanted.  If we kept certain people happy with [...]

PRAYER: Lord, Where Are You? by M. Basil Pennington

January 7, 2019

From An Invitation to Centering Prayer History repeats itself.  We’ve all heard that.  We ask the same questions others have asked before us.  We seek the same things others have sought before us: A meaning for our lives, friends, and some kind of relationship with God that grounds all the rest. We look for a wise person who has some answers and who shows by the peace in his eyes and the serene joy in his face that these are answers that work. In recent years a lot of men and women have headed to the Far East in search of those answers.  They have gone off to India, Thailand, and even more exotic places.  Some have found something, but most have returned home to their own roots. This isn’t the first time men and women have gone [...]

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 [...]

LECTIO DIVINA: The Way Of Friendship by M. Basil Pennington

December 4, 2014

From Lectio Divina This question is often raised at workshops and retreats: “What should I read at my lectio?  How do I know what text to use?” As Saint Paul told Saint Timothy: “All scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching and refutation, for correction and putting us in the way that is right with God, for communication and communion.”  For our lectio we can use any text of scripture we want.  Some like to open the Bible at random to see what the Lord has to say to them today.  This is fine, though we should avoid all superstitious attitudes, looking for the Lord to give us through the Bible infallible answers to particular questions.  That is not usually his way.  He has given us a mind to use and [...]

LISTENING: Take Care How You Listen by M. Basil Pennington

June 3, 2014

From Listening: God’s Word For Today As Jesus was making his way through the towns and villages preaching, he often told stories, drawing upon the everyday events around him and the creation which he loved – for he had made it.  The Twelve were with him as were other disciples such as Mary Magdalene and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, and Susanna.  In the evening, after a long day of ministry they would gather for a quiet time with Jesus.  One evening he said to them: “Take care how you hear, for anyone who has taken care will be given more, while from anyone who has not taken care, even what he has will be taken away.” That was the day Jesus had spoken about the sower.  As he sat in the village [...]