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We embrace the process of transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others, through the practice of Centering Prayer.

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Table Discussion, Overall Summary from the Contemplative Outreach Conference in Denver, September 21-24, 2017
John Kelsey
Voices of Community

The following is an edited collection of comments generated during several hours of small group discussions at the Contemplative Outreach Conference in Denver September 21-24, 2017. 

Comments were gathered from 15 posters prepared during the course of the conference.  These are the prayerful thoughts and hopes of our contemplative community. 

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The Good News of Accompaniment
Chandra Hanson
Voices of Community

... An encounter with Divine Love captivates.  It changes us.  Sue’s “yes” brought something to life in me and in the group; it called me on and encouraged me to stretch in new ways, giving me new eyes with which to see the Spirit’s movement among us.   It prompted conversations in the circle about the miraculous paradox of God’s transcendence and immanence; more than many in the “free world,” those who are incarcerated often both better understand the Reality that transcends time and space and better appreciate the gift of in-the-flesh visitors whose simple presence communicates God’s love and care.  There is a reason God took on flesh.  I am humbled and filled with gratitude every time I travel to join the inmates for our circle, knowing that simply by showing up I participate in God’s ongoing Incarnation. ... 

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The Good News of Accompaniment
Chandra Hanson
Voices of Community

... An encounter with Divine Love captivates.  It changes us.  Sue’s “yes” brought something to life in me and in the group; it called me on and encouraged me to stretch in new ways, giving me new eyes with which to see the Spirit’s movement among us.   It prompted conversations in the circle about the miraculous paradox of God’s transcendence and immanence; more than many in the “free world,” those who are incarcerated often both better understand the Reality that transcends time and space and better appreciate the gift of in-the-flesh visitors whose simple presence communicates God’s love and care.  There is a reason God took on flesh.  I am humbled and filled with gratitude every time I travel to join the inmates for our circle, knowing that simply by showing up I participate in God’s ongoing Incarnation. ... 

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Centering Prayer and the Transformation of Suffering
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I've been a Centering Prayer practitioner for several years and I've just finished reading The Better Part - Stages of Contemplative Living by Fr. Keating. I think that I've been going through the Night of Sense for the past few months. My question is whether the suffering (if that's the correct word) that I've felt by not having the desires of my false self met, can be considered "suffering", and considered as "redemptive suffering"?

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Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey, Father Thomas Keating
Contemplative Movement
Robin Gates
Voices of Community

Heaven and Earth converge in our bodies. The body is our teacher. It gives us messages and grounds us in the sacred present. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It longs and prays for our hospitality, to be seen, heard, integrated, and welcomed back into wholeness. One way to offer hospitality is through contemplative movement ...

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Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
The Original Blessing
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

... When I asked what made them want to be baptized by full immersion, I fully expected them to say “because they love God”; instead the reply was a simple childish “so we don’t have to go to the H—- place." I was shocked and didn’t know how to respond in a simple explanation, without undermining their parent's faith. How can I explain one-ness and original blessing to them?

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Simple Sharing; Huge Impact
Martha Johnston, co-coordinator of Contemplative Outreach of Maryland and Washington (COMW)
Voices of Community

“How should we use our money?"  The team realized that we had been maintaining a healthy bank balance, and we wanted to do more than just tithe to Contemplative Outreach Ltd.  We wanted to focus the money on specific projects.

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Centering Prayer
Back-to-Basics and the Centering Prayer Group
Leslee Terpay
Other

Fr. Thomas has asked the Centering Prayer community to take the next year and return to his basic teaching on the Christian spiritual journey. Here are three ways your Centering Prayer group may want to take-in these teachings together.

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Waking Up and Growing Up
Leslee Terpay
Voices of Community

Fr. Thomas has asked the Centering Prayer community to spend the next year going back to basics. For much of the past 12 years I have been revisiting Thomas’ teachings on Centering Prayer and the Christian spiritual journey by serving at least one long Centering Prayer intensive retreat a year in which I prepare by reading both Open Mind, Open Heart and Invitation to Love. This may seem a little over board in terms of preparation but I find each yearly reading brings me closer to absorbing the materials with my heart rather than my head.

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
Back to Basics
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

I heard at the CO September 2017 conference that Fr. Thomas is emphasizing a return to the basics.  What does this mean in your view?

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Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
A Contemplative Prayer Gathering In the Midst of Tragedy
Alan Krema
Voices of Community

The tragedy of the Las Vegas shootings would be devastating enough on its own.  But this unfathomable trauma has happened in the midst of other tragedies—such as the recent hurricanes affecting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Caribbean, the major earthquake in Mexico, and the usual level of local and global violence.  Many of us feel shaken to the core, awakening in us a depth of sadness not just for the victims, but also for all of humanity.  

Yet what can we do?  We feel helpless, distant, isolated, and also needing to carry on with our own lives.

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The Difference Between Centering Prayer and Dom John Main's Christian Meditation
Fr. Thomas Keating
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

... In regard to the use of a prayer word or phrase by which one disposes oneself to the grace of contemplation, I note that there is a difference in these approaches as regards the actual handling of the prayer word. On the one hand there is the approach of John Main and Lawrence Freeman, which as I understand it, advocates the attentive repetition of a particular sacred word. ... In contrast to these, the method taught in "Centering Prayer" explicitly indicates that the sacred word is not a "mantra" to be repeated, but rather a symbol of one's intention, (to consent to God's presence and action) to which one returns upon noticing one's mind wandering willy nilly.... I wonder if you might be so kind as to give me your take on this difference.

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My Experience of the Contemplative Gathering in Snowmass
Rafael Dickson Morales
Voices of Community

Last year, the founders of four contemporary Christian contemplative movements (Fr. Thomas Keating, of Contemplative Outreach; Fr. Laurence Freeman, of the World Community of Christian Meditation; Fr. Richard Rohr, of the Center for Action and Contemplation; and Tilden Edwards, of the Shalem Institute) gathered for a week of dialogue and meditation at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. As a result of that meeting, they came up with an extraordinary idea.

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A Conversion... and A Call to Serve
Richard Fudge
Voices of Community

This letter is my response to questions that were asked at our Centering Prayer circle:

  • What can we say about the experience of inmates in learning and practicing this method?
  • What do we think is important for the wider organization to understand about this perspective?

What can we say about the experience of inmates in learning and practicing this method?

I have spent a lot of time in prayer and reflection with these questions.  The following is the fruit of my labors.  I pray that through my words you will find insight and perspective, and that we may come into unity in the Holy Spirit as we sit together at the feet of the Lord Jesus.

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Centering Prayer, Father Thomas Keating, Prison Ministry
How to Create a Weekly Intensive Retreat Experience: “The Mini Midweek Retreat”
Becky Weinberg
Voices of Community

During one of the retreats while I was in the silence of my room, I began to think about several individuals in my Centering Prayer Group who, because of medical problems, caregiving responsibilities, or lack of funds, would never be able to attend an eight-day silent retreat.

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality
Reflections on the September Conference
John Kelsey
Voices of Community

There is a new and powerful movement of the Spirit in our community.  We are evolving toward a new level of consciousness – not only as individual practitioners, but as a contemplative community.  Our challenge is to let go of a business model of governance and allow a new framework of attitudes and practices to blossom in its place.

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Lectio Divina and Attuning to the Spirit
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Recently I attended a poetry gathering … The young man who teaches poetry used Lectio Divina as a method to find interpretation of the poetry and called it that. If he had called it repetition and discernment, perhaps I would not have had difficulty with it. However, he did not use Scripture but secular poetry. I did some research on Lectio Divina and found that it is misused in many contexts and by different faith structures. Would you please comment on the use of Lectio Divina?

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Contemplative Spirituality
What Texts to Use With Lectio Divina
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  I've been listening to The Spiritual Journey on CD's and watching DVD's to become thoroughly familiar with Centering Prayer.  I am praying Lectio Divina, per Fr. Keating's guidelines of the 4 R's (Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest).  Is Lectio [used with] only the four Gospels, or does it include all of Sacred Scripture?  Sometimes I am greatly attracted to an Old Testament reading or one of the writings of St. Paul and wondered if those texts are part of Lectio.

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina
Seed of God
Juliana Howard
Voices of Community

The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways to build up the Body of Christ, using us in spite of ourselves.
 
Beginning in the mid-eighties, after the death of my mother, I was inspired to write children’s songs based on the Bible. For many years, I directed the Crayons, a group of school children who performed and recorded them. The first song given to me was “Seed of God”.

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Your Table
Dian Gillmar
Voices of Community

I miss Your words in the stained glass

above the altar, “My peace I give you.”

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Thomas Keating & The Three Biological Needs
Fr. Carl J. Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: Thomas Keating identifies three essential biological needs for human beings: (1) Security & Survival, (2) Power & Control, and (3) Affection & Esteem.  Can you please tell me if these biological needs are Fr. Keating's own creation or did he borrow them from another source?

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Centering Prayer, Spiritual Journey, Father Thomas Keating
About Contemplative Outreach Dublin
Rev'd Robert Lawson
Voices of Community

Contemplative Outreach Dublin has been in existence for 10 years and currently has 11 active volunteers on the team. As autumn approaches it signals the time for preparing for the year ahead. We are currently planning our Second Saturday Programme.

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality, Father Thomas Keating
Introduction to Conscious Work
Alan Krema, a member of Contemplative Outreach of Chicago
Voices of Community

Is prayer a retreat for you into a separate place where you find rest and peace? If so, why do you not find peace, wholeness and harmony in your daily working life? Do you think it is impossible?

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Centering Prayer, Welcoming Prayer
Distinguishing Awareness and Presence
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q: I would like to understand more clearly what Fr. Keating means when he says that the ever present awareness is: "Not really awareness at all, it's just presence".

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Centering Prayer, Contemplative Spirituality
Praying to the Old Man on the Throne?
Fr. Carl Arico
Q&A with Fr. Carl J. Arico

Q:  Recently, when I concluded my session of Centering Prayer and recited the Lord's Prayer, as is my custom, I was struck by the disparity between the Trinity in Whom and with Whom I had just been abiding, and the "God in heaven" who seemed to resume his cloak of an old white man on a throne far, far away.  Am I taking the opening of the Lord's Prayer too literally? 

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Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina

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