Centering Prayer

contact: Elizabeth A. Lawrence MA, 201-818-6204
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An Encounter with the Divine - Silence

(Usually), the First Saturday of the Month, 9:45am in the parish rectory.

If you were blessed to attend the presentations of Fr. Richard Rohr during our 2011 Jubilee Year, you heard him encourage us to "reclaim the our contemplative roots." Spending time in Centering Prayer enables us to be "in the moment," without judgment of ourselves and others; allows us to make peace with the past and not worry about future; gives us time to "BE" with intention in Divine PRESENCE; and helps us become more at ease with SILENCE, which then becomes a daily practice. Please join us to continue or begin your journey to being contemplative in a busy world.

This ancient pray form was revitalized by Thomas Merton in the United States in 1957 and is still being taught by Thomas Keating, OC. Centering Prayer Groups have formed in many areas throughout the world.

Suggestions to begin your practice - Come in faith that the Divine dwells within. Find a rhythm and time for your prayer practice. Create a sacred space in your living place. Select a prayer word. This word is to use as a tool to allow you to release thoughts and return to the Divine within. Sit with back straight and feet flat on the floor. Breathe in-hold the breath in for a moment and then release. Begin with a prayer or music –Relax, bow head and close eyes to become aware that you are going to your center. Imagine taking an elevator down to the center of your being- to be silent in that place where the Divine dwells. Stay there for a period of time (suggested 20 min).

Suggestions for prayer words Peace, Light, Jesus, Heal, Silence, Lord Come, Presence, Keep the same prayer word for a period of time. Don't think that the perfect prayer word will make your "Centering Prayer" perfect.

In the silence we can become creative, sad, happy, or overwhelmed with thoughts. Use your prayer word to let go of distractions and return to the Divine. We are not trying to stop thoughts, but rather our attention is the quiet. This is a prayer of emptying. This is a time for being-rather than doing. Some days the prayer word needs to be used continually. There is no need to judge your practice. This is a method. It is an ongoing prayer that will reach out into all aspects of your life. What is important is your intention to recognize the Divine within and willingness to spend the time to be in that space.

Thomas Keating calls Centering Prayer "Divine Psychotherapy" for as we learn to be in the "now" there is no past or future. As we face the challenges in our lives we live in the present moment and "is" of our situation.

I wish you peace as you begin your practice
The main thing is to begin and be consistent -
Come and join us- All are welcome.

Suggested reading:

  • "The New Spiritual Exercise" by Louis Savery Ph.D.
  • "Open Mind, Open Heart" by Thomas Keating OCS
  • "Centering Prayer & Inner Awakening" by Cynthia Bourgeault
  • "Holy Spirit" by Ron Roth PhD
  • "Your Soul's Compass" by Joan Borysenko PhD
  • "Too Deep for Words" by Hall
  • "In the Heart of the Desert" by John Chryssavgis

Elizabeth Lawrence, parishioner, is a Pastoral Counselor and Spiritual Director and has been teaching Centering Prayer for over twenty years.