Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St.
In other words, she knew that everyone was different and that one method of mental prayer would not suit all souls.
According to temperaments, the intercourse of friendship will assume an intellectual form, or an affective, or even sensitive one. On the contrary, the essential element is not a method, but the loving friendship between the person praying and God. With me prayer is a lifting up of the heart, a look towards Heaven, a cry of gratitude and love uttered equally in sorrow and in joy; in a word, something noble, supernatural, which enlarges my soul and unites it to God…. As for Father John Main, the criticisms I have read of his method are very similar to criticisms of Centering Prayer.
If you want to know what Carmelites mean by contemplation, read the two posts that begin here. Father Jordan Aumann, O.P., who taught spirituality at the Angelicum in Rome, would have answered, NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO! Not to get off the subject but let us pray for Bishop Flores, who has now passed away yesterday. This is not difficult to understand, and which we should know that we should stay away from Yoga. Try a good physical therapist or Praisemoves or a good book like Stretching by Suzanne Martin.
Anonymous no its not true, the exercise isn’t only the prayer part opens the doors to evil spirits. I think that many Catholics forget, that our holy religion was established by Christ, for the purpose of bringing our souls to Heaven!
Linda Maria, my post last Friday began a series on whether we should sit quietly during prayer. Again, not everyone is at a stage of the spiritual life when they can or should try to do that.
As a Psychologist, Mystical Theologian and Carmelite, I believe that some of the responses about silent prayer, have been overly simplistic and just plain wrong on many counts. The goal of ALL prayer and methods are to properly dispose a soul to “hear” the quiet, serene communication and to reach an incomprehensible, loving and essential union with the Divine – in the deepest part of its being.
The source of Centering Prayer, as in all methods leading to contemplative prayer, is the Indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have to thank all the comments in this thread so far whether teaching, prayers or reflections by Fr. I know of some very good Catholics, who do not like to sit quietly for long periods of time, in prayer, or meditation, with God. Linda Marie said: “We should all regularly spend time alone with God, praying and practicing religious devotions.
Brother Gabriel, I appreciate your comments, but I don’t believe you understand what I am saying. Connie, actually I do understand what you are saying and that is why I felt compelled to react to your overreaction to Linda Marie’s comments.
As my courses went on and I became a religion major, I realized that I’d basically been robbed. All of the people I know who go to yoga class a couple of times a year are a bit long in the tooth and enjoy the stretching involved.


Bob one its because not everyone understands that it stems from a cult, a none Judeo Christian source. Well enuff said…stretches are fine, they help give a person good posture and can help loosen muscles that are stiff due to stress but keep away from the prayer part. A couple of years ago there was a woman who was going to Catholic parishes teaching the Stations of the Cross in Yoga. If you require further details regarding the transaction data, please contact the supplier directly.
A passage in Teresa’s Foundations does explain briefly how her nuns should practice meditation.
In Way of Perfection she mentions a nun who was unable to meditate, but became holy by praying the Our Father slowly and reverently. The child will put its love for Jesus in a kiss, a smile sent to the tabernacle, a caress for the infant Jesus, an expression of sadness before the crucifix.
If true mental prayer, the necessary preparation for the gift of contemplation, requires an elaborate method, it is elitist. Except for the Divine Office, which in spite of my unworthiness is a daily joy, I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. In contrast to this, those who want to learn Centering Prayer are encouraged to attend a retreat or workshop or take an online course. The Church gives us all we need and more, without the dangers of dabbling in foreign religions. It too originated in pagan religions, trying to make their practices Catholic, and failing. When I studied under this great theologian, I learned that we are nothing, and that God is all. That was very sweet of Abeca to let us know about the death of Bishop Flores and to charitably remind us to always pray for souls both while living and deceased. When you sit quietly before the Eucharist, your mind is probably not a blank the whole time.
Rather, it adds depth of meaning to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Intercessory prayer then comes towards the last where we pray for the concerns of our families, the world, etc. Karl, Louis, Abeca Christian, Dana, Linda Maria, Donna Noble Gibson, Lucy,Connie Rossini and Anne. Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, they were all packed with wisdom and beauty and grace. But you won’t find a word about this in her classics on prayer Interior Castle or Way of Perfection. Teresa herself spent years unable to pray unless she had a book to read, because constant distractions plagued her.
Such a way bars the ignorant, children, and those of certain temperaments or psychological weaknesses from being contemplatives. I do as a child who has not learned to read, I just tell our Lord all that I want and he understands.” (Story of a Soul, Ch. We can begin sitting quietly in God’s presence after we have reached a certain level of prayer, but even then we need to make periodic reflections with our minds. You are probably at times thinking about Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist, about your love for Him, etc.
Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.


Haven’t you ever met someone who gave up prayer because he was instructed just to sit silently and say nothing and he couldn’t do it? Granted, they were also products of their time and included all sorts of oddities and backward beliefs (many of which, I believe, should be updated). Therese of Lisieux, spiritual childhood was the way to reach the heights of holiness very quickly. Teresa of Avila would have dealt swiftly with these kinds of lying thieves who would dare steal her name in order to sell their own goofy pagan beliefs.
It makes holiness the possession of the few who know enough and who have the right natural gifts. And we are supposed to believe that she taught a form of prayer that was reserved for the few? May we see the beauty and goodness of each and help the child and youth reach their full potential as a human being.
But many beginners read this type of advice and try to start forming a prayer habit by sitting quietly. Not until very high stages of infused (supernatural) contemplation can we sit completely quiet for any length of time before having to think about something. She never taught that meditation was a necessary prerequisite to contemplation, let alone the same thing as it. This method of prayer is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
My day-to-day decisions of what to eat and wear and how to raise my son are based more on what I read in scientific studies. But you’re right that I was probably overreacting to what Linda Marie said, because this subject has been on my mind the last several days. And having learned about religions in their cultural context, I also feel lucky to be able to draw from the words of the saints and sages of all faiths, along with science and philosophy. So out of care for others who may not be as advanced, we should avoid making blanket statements about things like sitting quietly, which are not prerequisites for authentic Christian prayer.
I wake up in the morning acknowledging His presence, and end the day, reflecting and trusting in His protection as I sleep. Nevertheless, it is important to focus not only on the immediate sensations produced by the prayer but also on the longer-term effects.
Prayer is never to be pursued as a therapy or as a means of gaining knowledge about a generic deity.
But also, we all should simply sit or kneel quietly alone before the great and holy Presence of God!
A Catholic's prayer must always have a distinctively Christian context, and it must always enrich the individual's understanding of and commitment to the Christian faith. He received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Masters of Theology from the University of Toronto. Our editorial staff presents breaking news, in-depth analysis and cutting-edge content around the clock.




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