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Showing posts with the label Contemplation

Common errors of Centering Prayer practitioners

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Centering Prayer practitioners are often very sincere people who are seeking a closer relationship with God. For some, a Centering Prayer group at church was their first introduction to the idea of cultivating a deep prayer life. Others have read the saints’ works about prayer, but have not understood them. Both groups are vulnerable to false teachings about prayer.

Unfortunately for them, they are taught a skewed interpretation of the saints, the fathers, and even the Catechism. Theses errors take root. People become emotionally attached to their method of prayer. It is very difficult to convince them that the practice is not in line with Catholic tradition.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

John of the Cross and the contemplative life

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What is the contemplative life? What does it entail? What is its purpose? Let’s start our study of St. John of the Cross’s spirituality with these questions.

Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen writes in Union with God According to St. John of the Cross:
[The contemplative life] is the form of Christian life that tends to intimacy with God by means of the assiduous exercise of prayer and mortification.” The Catholic Encyclopedia at New Advent defines it this way:
A life ordered in view of contemplation; a way of living especially adapted to lead to and facilitate contemplation, while it excludes all other preoccupations and intents.”Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

A call for contemplative families

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On Sunday, October 4, the Synod on the Family convened in Rome. As we pray, with trust in the Lord, for real help for the family from the Fathers of our Church, we should do something else as well. The strengthening of the Catholic family must come not just from new directives from Rome, but also from families themselves. You and I, together with our families, can help change the outlook of the Catholic family for centuries to come. Today I issue a call that is the call of Pope John Paul II, “Family, become what you are!” (Familiaris consortio no. 17). I issue a call for contemplative families.

God has been putting this on my heart more and more. I hear from mothers who want to teach their children to pray, but don’t know how. From women whose husbands have abandoned the family and who are trying to raise godly children on their own. From grandparents who grieve that their grandchildren are not being raised in the faith. I do not need to tell you the challenges that face…

Is Centering Prayer Catholic?

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“What is Centering Prayer? What are its origins? Is it a form of New Age meditation, or a thoroughly Catholic prayer method that can lead to contemplation? Connie Rossini digs into the writings and public statements of Fr. Thomas Keating, one of Centering Prayer’s foremost proponents. She compares his words with the writings of St. Teresa of Avila on prayer, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on New Age spirituality. Find out if Centering Prayer is a reliable method for union with God, or a counterfeit that Catholics should avoid.”

Announcing…

Is Centering Prayer Catholic? Fr. Thomas Keating Meets Teresa of Avila and the CDFA new book  by Connie Rossini.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Centering Prayer's errors about God

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I recently decided to dig deeper into understanding Centering Prayer, so I could advise readers on it. I bought Fr. Thomas Keating’s book Open Heart, Open Mind and wrote a review that will appear at SpiritualDirection.com in September.

But one blog post was not enough. The errors in this book were so many and so serious, I decided it needed a more thorough response. So I am writing a quick ebook called Teresa of Avila Debunks Centering Prayer. It should be ready for publication in a couple of weeks. Here is an excerpt, on Centering Prayer’s errors about God. It still needs to be edited, so please excuse anything my editor/husband would refer to as “infelicities.”

The first error concerns the distinction between God and man.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

5th mansions: the prayer of union

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Souls generally remain in the fourth mansions of the Interior Castle for years. But for those who are raised beyond them, even greater intimacy with God lies ahead. Today we begin exploring  Teresa of Avila’s fifth mansions.

The prayer of union begins in the fifth mansions. How does it differ from the prayer of quiet? As I said last time, the prayer of quiet primarily involves the will. In the prayer of union, the intellect, the memory, and the imagination also share in contemplation.
The sign of true union St. Teresa says true union always produces a sign of its authenticity. That sign is the soul’s certitude. She knows just as surely as if she had been speaking to Christ in the flesh that she has been in union with God. Even when spiritual directors or companions try to persuade her otherwise, she doesn’t believe them.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Life in Teresa's Fourth Mansions

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How should a person behave when he enters the fourth mansions? How should he act throughout the day? How should he pray?

First, let’s look at our behavior during prayer. As I have said (some might say ad nausuem) contemplative prayer is a gift from God. It does not come from the soul’s willing it or applying any technique.

Spiritual growth through the seven (groups of) mansions is gradual. Contemplative prayer begins subtly. It usually grows slowly deeper. Infused recollection blends into the prayer of quiet, which blends into the union of the fifth mansions.

A soul in the fourth mansions will probably not experience contemplation every time she prays–at least not at first. What should she do? She should not try to produce contemplation, since that’s impossible. Instead, she should go back to meditating on Sacred Scripture, affective prayer, or acquired recollection.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

The prayer of quiet

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The prayer of quiet is the second type of contemplative prayer God gives in St. Teresa’s fourth mansions. Here is Teresa’s description of the prayer of quiet from Way of Perfection:
This is a supernatural state, and, however hard we try, we cannot reach it ourselves… In this state the faculties are all stilled. The soul, in a way which has nothing to do with the outward senses, realizes that it is now very close to its God, and that, if it were but a little closer, it would become one with Him through union. The faculties that Teresa refers to are the powers of the soul, namely, the powers of thought, will, and memory. Teresa states that the will is occupied during the prayer of quiet, captivated by God, and enjoying a love communion with him.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

4th mansions: consolations versus spiritual delights

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Now we begin to look at contemplative prayer as Teresa of Avila sees it. The fourth mansions are the transition from prayer that is produced by the soul to prayer that God gives the soul. In this post, I want to look at what Teresa says about consolations versus delights. This is from the first chapter of the fourth mansions.

Consolations are produced naturally by the soul. We can’t say that God has no part in them, for everything that brings us closer to him is in some way his gift. But they are completely different from delights, which he gives without our doing anything to receive.

It’s so important not to mistake consolations for infused delights!

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Joggers, Rocks, and All The Ways God Speaks To Us

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God is always speaking to us, His people, but we are not always listening. Or we aren’t quite sure how to listen because we aren’t quite sure what that looks or sounds like in our daily lives.
The fact is, we can’t obey Him or follow His lead unless we hear Him—and we can’t hear Him unless we understand how He speaks to us today.
Many of us read Scripture and long to hear God speak to us as He spoke to Moses, Noah, or Abraham. We desire the clarity that apparently existed for the prophets and sages and patriarchs. Consequently, we miss out on God’s active participation in our lives because we miss out on all the ways He speaks into our very existence.
read more here

Should we sit quietly during prayer? (Part 1 of 3)

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Last week I wrote about St. Teresa’s of Avila’s method of mental prayer. Today I want to discuss misunderstandings about prayer from a different angle. Since we desire contemplation, should we sit still in prayer and wait for it? Should we try to make it happen by quieting our minds? Like last Friday’s post, this series speaks to the differences between Carmelite teaching and Centering Prayer, yoga, and other types of meditation influenced by eastern religions.

Some people falsely equate silence with supernatural (infused) contemplation. They read about the need for interior silence in prayer, and they mistakenly think that if they sit quietly, God will necessarily bestow contemplation upon them. They equate the peace they find in silence to communion with God.

The Vatican has cautioned us about certain methods of prayer In 1989, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote Letter to the Bishops of th…

Did Teresa of Avila teach Centering Prayer?

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Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”
Nope.
Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…
Nonsense.
The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”
Uh-uh.
I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with …

In the spirit of Elijah

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In the past week we’ve celebrated two major Carmelite feasts: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16) and the prophet Elijah (July 20). These two great saints in different ways exemplify what Carmelite spirituality is about.
Elijah demonstrates the prophetic aspect of Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite seal bears these words of his as a motto:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts (1 Kings 19:10).
Consumed with zeal for holiness Elijah was not afraid to confront the rulers of his day. He risked death to preach repentance to King Ahab, while Queen Jezebel launched an anti-crusade to wipe out God’s prophets. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel to see whose god would consume a sacrifice with fire from Heaven. After winning that contest (surprise!), Elijah had all the false prophets killed. He led the people to re-commit themselves to the true God.
Then he went and prayed that, seeing their repentance, God would send rain. Elijah’s prayer…

Upping the Ante

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I believe God's greatest plan for us is to perfect us in love. We are called to love God and love others with Christlike sacrifice and abandon. In order to get to this place we need to be able to abide in God's love (John 15:1-9). The way we abide in God's love is through contemplation which should be the ultimate goal of all prayer. Contemplation is a state of beholding God and union with him. Through contemplation we encounter God. It is ultimately a gift but we can place ourselves in a state that is best able to receive this gift and then it is ultimately a work that God does in us as we surrender to him more completely.  Continue Reading >

The Catholic Prayer of Silence

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The words prayer and contemplation intimidate many people but the reality is that prayer is simple, so simple that it eludes many adults. Rest in God and enjoy God in the silence. Sometimes we need to simply cease our activity, live in the moment and breathe in God. This is reality. When the Spirit flows in and through us we are in sync with everything and everybody. We are part of the Trinity, part of the human community and part of the communion of saints. How do we relax into this state? In and through prayer. Have you ever noticed that every liturgy begins with a blessing of peace and simultaneously a call to prayer because they are intricately connected. L: “Peace be with you” P: “And also with you.” L: “Let us lift up our hearts to the Lord” P: “We lift them up to the Lord” L: Faithful and gracious God, we seek to draw nearer to you in this time of devotion and prayer. Open us to your word that we might be guided in your Spirit toward all truth and love, for we pray in Christ’s nameP…

Are you living a contemplative life?

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Two Girls Praying, Emile Munier Are you a contemplative? Some people, faced with this question, would answer an enthusiastic, “Yes!” Perhaps they are saints, at a high stage of union with God. Or perhaps they practice Eastern (as in Hindu or Buddhist) forms of meditation that they equate with contemplation. Some would call themselves contemplative because they are thoughtful and quiet. The rest of us might answer, “No.” Since we are not saints, we wouldn’t dare think of ourselves as contemplatives in the proper sense.

Nevertheless, everyone, no matter his stage in the spiritual journey or his vocation, can live a contemplative life.
A contemplative life is a life ordered toward union with God If you have read The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila, you know Teresa divides the spiritual life into seven stages, which she called mansions.  (To be completely accurate, she says that a soul goes back and forth among these stages, rather than proceeding from one to the next in …

Mary pondered all these things--do you?

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There are many types of devotion to Mary. Carmelites honor Mary by imitating her. In particular, they imitate her way of meditating on the great things that God has done.

Luke’s Gospel tells us twice that “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” She was the first contemplative Christian.  What did she ponder? What God had done for her, and what He was doing in and through her Son.

Here are some concrete ways you can live a more contemplative life, following Mary’s example.

Continue reading.