HOOSE A SACRED WORD AS THE SYMBOL OF YOUR INTENTION TO CONSENT TO
S PRESENCE AND ACTION WITHIN
ITTING COMFORTABLY AND WITH EYESCLOSED
AND SILENTLY INTRODUCE THE SACRED WORD AS THE SYMBOL OF YOUR CONSENT TO
SPRESENCE AND ACTION WITHIN
HEN YOU BECOME AWARE OF THOUGHTS
GENTLY TOTHE SACRED WORD
T THE END OF THE PRAYER PERIOD
REMAIN IN SILENCE WITH EYES CLOSEDFOR A COUPLE OF MINUTES
THE METHOD OF CENTERING PRAYER
by Thomas Keating
The grace of Pentecost affirms that the risen Jesusis among us as the glorified Christ. Christ lives in each of us as the Enlightened One, present everywhere and at alltimes. He is the living Master who continuously sends theHoly Spirit to dwell within us and to bear witness to hisresurrection by empowering us to experience andmanifest the fruits of the Spirit and the Beatitudes both inprayer and action.
Lectio Divina is the most traditional way of cultivatingfriendship with Christ. It is a way of listening to the textsof scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ andhe were suggesting the topics of conversation. The dailyencounter with Christ and reflection on his word leadsbeyond mere acquaintanceship to an attitude of friendship, trust and love. Conversation simplifies andgives way to communing, or as Gregory the Great (6
century), summarizing the Christian contemplativetradition, put it, “resting in God.” This was the classicalmeaning of contemplative prayer for the first sixteencenturies.
Contemplative Prayer is the normal development of the grace of baptism and the regular practice of LectioDivina. We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelingsexpressed in words. But this is only one expression.Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart –our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyondthoughts, words, and emotions. We open our awarenessto God whom we know by faith is within us, closer thanbreathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing –closer than consciousness itself. Contemplative Prayer isa process of interior purification leading, if we consent, todivine union.
The Method of Centering Prayer
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitatethe development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to cooperate with this gift. It is an attempt topresent the teaching of earlier time (e.g., The Cloud of Unknowing) in an updated form and to put a certain order and regularity into it. It is not meant to replace other kindsof prayer; it simply puts other kinds of prayer into a newand fuller perspective. During the time of prayer weconsent to God’s presence and action within. At other times our attention moves outward to discover God’spresence everywhere.
Explanation of the Guidelines
I.“Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence andaction within.”
A.The sacred word expresses our intention to be inGod’s presence and to yield to the divine action.B.The sacred word should be chosen during a brief period of prayer asking the Holy Spirit to inspireus with one that is especially suitable to us.1.Examples: Lord, Jesus, Father, Mother,Mary; or in other languages: Kyrie, Jesu,Jeshua, Abba, Mater, Maria.2.Other possibilities: Love, Peace, Mercy,Silence, Stillness, Calm, Faith, Trust, Yes;or in other languages: Amor, Shalom, Amen.C.Having chosen a sacred word, we do not changeit during the prayer period, for that would be tostart thinking again.D.A simple inward gaze upon God may be moresuitable for some persons than the sacred word.In this case, one consents to God’s presenceand action by turning inwardly to God as if gazing upon God. The same guidelines apply tothe sacred gaze as to the sacred word.
II. “Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settlebriefly and silently introduce the sacred word asthe symbol of your consent to God’s presenceand action within.”
A.By “sitting comfortably” is meant relativelycomfortably; not so comfortably that weencourage sleep, but sitting comfortably enoughto avoid thinking about the discomfort of our bodies during the time of prayer.