Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Quite often, the contemplative person is seen as one who retreats from the world. Look at every religious tradition and we see those who seek a mystical life becoming monks and nuns.....the Buddhist and Catholic traditions being just two examples.
But, read The Bhagavad Gita; in it Krishna instructs Arjuna to ACT. We as contemplatives cannot leave this every-day life. It is what God intends for us.
We meditate twice a day, then return to work to feed our family....change the baby's diaper.....wash the dishes.
I sometimes envy the Religious when the baby is crying but, then the baby smiles and laughs and I am no longer envious.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Centering Prayer and the Eucharist

How does one put mystical experiences into words? Is that even possible?
When I searched for “centering prayer” among the blogs I came across instructions on how to do the technique but little else. Very little is written about how one’s personality will change after years of practice.
Perhaps, that is because there are few of us in “the outside world” who have practiced for any real length of time.
Even less is said about how the prayer is enhanced by receiving the Eucharist on a regular basis.
That idea would be almost impossible to convey to non-Christians who meditate. Even Protestants would have difficulties with this because their view of Communion is very different from the teachings of the Catholic Church. Sadly, there aren’t many Catholics who know about Centering Prayer.
The Catholic Church teaches us that the bread and wine distributed during the Eucharistic celebration are the actual body and blood of Christ. The Churches teaches, and I believe, that when I receive Communion I am doing as Christ said in John.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. John 6:56”.
Obviously, not everyone is going to take the same view as I do. I won’t argue that point; I’m not skillful enough as a writer (or apologist) to change anyone’s opinion on the Real Presence. But, for those who see the Eucharist in the same way, Centering Prayer could add another dimension to your spiritual understanding.


  The jpeg to the left of this entry is entitled " Shiroiyoru". I came across this jpeg on the Internet and downloaded it more than a year ago.Unfortunately, I've forgotten the source. I placed it here because it seems to convey what many of us think of when we hear the words "meditation" or "contemplation". That is to say, the image gives us a sense of peace, solitude and quiet.
It also brings to mind words like "Japanese" or "Eastern" or "Asian"; words which we associate with meditation and contemplation.
Many of us who are hoping to explore higher states of consciousness have overlooked Christianity as the path for approaching these states.
We've looked into Zen and other forms of Buddhism; we've looked into Taoism and Hinduism as well. We've looked at Siddhartha while overlooking St. Francis.
At the same time, we've studied Lao Tze while failing to study St. John of the Cross; we've read "The Tao te Ching" without reading "The Cloud of the Unknowing".
Certainly, there is much to be gained spiritually from studying the Eastern religious traditions; but it is thru meditation and contemplative prayer that is grounded in the Trinity that we reach true “Enlightenment".
We must always remember that the Eucharist is the most essential element needed for a mystical relationship with God.See Father Cantalamessa's  homilies on the Eucharist.
  In the early 1960's, The Holy Spirit, recognizing a need for a spiritual renewal on this planet, brought about the Second Vatican Council as a way of bringing about these needed changes.
It was also during this same time period that more and more spiritually inclined individuals in the West began looking towards the East as a way to quench their thirst for mysticism.
Movements appeared within the Catholic community, in part, to respond to this growing need in the West for an understanding of this nearly neglected area of spirituality.From the Vatican II document Ad Gentes comes this;
"Worthy of special mention are the various projects for causing the contemplative life to take root.There are those who in such an attempt have kept the essential element of a monastic institution,and are bent on implanting the rich tradition of their order; there are others again who are returning to the simpler forms of ancient monasticism. But all are studiously looking for a genuine adaptation to local conditions. Since the contemplative life belongs to the fullness of the Church's presence, let it be put into effect everywhere."

 This blog is my modest attempt to look into Meditation and Contemplative prayer within the Catholic tradition.
Following the advice of Fr.Thomas Keating in his book "Manifesting God" I will look into the works of John Cassian, Francis de Sales,  Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross,
 Therese of Lisieux and Thomas Merton.
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