"God's first language is Silence."
— Thomas Keating
Be still and know
— Psalm 46: 10
If you are new to Centering Prayer or wishing to renew your practice, this retreat will assist you with deepening your relationship with God. We will focus on teaching and practicing the method of Centering Prayer; review its place in the Christian tradition, its conceptual background, and psychological process; and share insights into establishing Centering Prayer as a way of life.
We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. In the Christian tradition contemplative prayer is the opening of mind and heart — our whole being — to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing — closer than consciousness itself.
Centering Prayer presents the teaching of earlier times in an updated form. Centering Prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; rather it casts a new light and depth of meaning on them. It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This method of prayer is a movement deeper into communion with the Living Christ.
Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "...But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6). It is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative heritage including John Cassian, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, Thomas Merton, and Thomas Keating.
In 12 emails, scheduled at a pace and with a start date that you choose, you can expect:
- Practical instruction on the method of Centering Prayer.
- Transcribed Q&A with the retreat leaders — Pamela Begeman, Mary Anne Best, and Julie Saad — from the original offering of this e-course during Lent 2019.
- Links to video and audio teachings to support learning and practicing Centering Prayer.
This is an updated version of the 2015 online course "Silence and Centering Prayer" with some new reference material and new facilitators. It is the first part in a series of three. Here are the other two parts, which you are welcome to take whether or not you take this first course:
"Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation,
a conversion initiated by God and leading, if we consent, to divine union.
One’s way of seeing reality changes in this process.
A restructuring of consciousness takes place which empowers one
to perceive, relate, and respond to everyday life
with increasing sensitivity to the divine presence in, through, and beyond
everything that happens."
— Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart
(choose your own start date and frequency)