"Christmas is usually a noisy party: we could use a bit of silence, to
hear the voice of Love."
is you, when you decide to be born again each day and let God into
your soul. The Christmas pine is you, when you resist vigorous winds
and difficulties of life. The Christmas decorations are you, when your
virtues are colors that adorn your life. The Christmas bell is you,
when you call, gather and seek to unite. You are also a Christmas
light, when you illuminate with your life the path of others with
kindness, patience, joy and generosity. The Christmas angels are you,
when you sing to the world a message of peace, justice and love. The
Christmas star is you, when you lead someone to meet the Lord. You are
also the wise men, when you give the best you have no matter who.
Christmas music is you when you conquer the harmony within you. The
Christmas gift is you, when you are truly friend and brother of every
human being. The Christmas card is you, when kindness is written in
your hands. The Christmas greeting is you, when you forgive and
reestablish peace, even when you suffer. The Christmas dinner is you,
when you sated bread and hope to the poor man who is by your side. You
are, yes, Christmas night, when humble and conscious, you receive in
the silence of the night the Savior of the world without noise or
great celebrations; you are a smile of trust and tenderness, in the
inner peace of a perennial Christmas that establishes the Kingdom
within you. A very Merry Christmas for all those who look like
-- Pope Francis
John Tauler, a 14th-century German Dominican mystic
It is certain that if God is to be born in the soul
It must turn back to eternity
It must turn in toward itself with all its might,
Must recall itself,
And consecrate all its faculties within itself,
The lowest as well as the highest,
All its dissipated powers must be gathered up into one,
Because unity is strength.
Next the soul must go out.
It must travel away from itself, above itself.
There must be nothing left in us
but a pure intention towards God;
no will to be or become or obtain anything for ourselves.
We must exit only to make place for him,
The highest inmost place,
Where he may do his work;
There, when we are no longer putting ourselves in his way,
He can be born in us.
If one would prepare an empty place
In the depths of the soul
There can be no doubt that God must fill it at once.
If there were void on earth
The heavens would fall to fill it.
So you must be silent.
Then God will be born in you,
Utter his word in you
And you shall hear it;
But be very sure that if you speak
The word will have to be silent.
If you go out, he will most surely come in;
As much as you go out for him
He will come to you;
No more, no less.
When shall we find and know
This birth of God within us?
Only when we concentrate
all our faculties within us
and direct them all towards God.
Then he will be born in us
And make himself our very own.
He will give himself to us as our own,
more completely ours
than anything we ever called our own.
The text says: ‘A child is born to us and a son is
given to us.’
He is ours
He is all our own,
More truly than anything else we own,
and constantly, ceaselessly, he is born in us.
-- Taken from CO
e-News, Dec 2017
OF GRIEF, LOVE
Today I saw grief up close. It was not dark. Instead it glistened from
the tears of a beloved daughter in law who had just lost her father. I
felt her pain, as she mourned that she was now totally without a
parent. Barely 11 years old when her mother had died, her father was
her bedrock of support and unconditional love.
Watching her I realized that grief is the true expression of love. How
else can you grieve so intensely without having first known love and
being loved in return? You lament deeply the loss of that love . It is
a constant emptiness that will not go away.
I sat down late at night and struggled to connect the events of life
with my parish bulletin deadline on “Advent and Love.” I closed my
eyes and whispered a prayer word ... “Help!” Then I did my Centering
It became clear that it all started with love. “God so loved the
world,” we have been told this many times, “that he sent His only Son
to ransom us.” So the season of Advent brings us to the beginning of
the story...a stable and the birth of a child, just like one of us. In
God’s boundless love, Jesus became what we are, so that we could be
what He is.
In the silence of contemplative prayer, in the quiet of the night I
realized that this was God’s true gift of love - His own Son. Why not
surrounded by gold, glitter and luxury befitting a prince? The message
is clear - without poverty of spirit, there cannot be an abundance of
The spiritual journey with its books, quotations, and prayers brings
you to moments like this when you stumble on a prayer, hear a phrase
or a single word that speaks to you. Sharing in the pain of a daughter
in law awakens your soul. That night there was a prayer on Centering
Prayer that resonated with me.
“God of the Silence, calm and quiet my soul at the fount of your
loving presence. In your silence, replenish me with the force of love.
When there is nowhere else to go, inspire me to drop into my heart and
find your life giving grace there, weaving the fabric of human reality
into a tapestry of love. Amen.” (Peter Traben)
Seeing God in daily events is a natural outcome of fidelity to the
practice of Centering Prayer. He is everywhere “in the fabric of human
reality,” in people who grieve, in the joys of a Christmas party, in
the wide eyes of a child asking Santa for a magic pony. He is there
faithfully and definitely. The best way to know, is to daily practice
moments of silence. To “drop into your heart” and relish the quiet.
"Once we begin the spiritual journey, there is no longer merely
private prayer. Our prayer becomes a participation in the groanings of
the Spirit for all the intentions and needs of the human family. ...
During the periods of Centering Prayer we enter into a sense of
oneness with everyone else who is experiencing grace, and with the
whole human family. ... This bonding is the heart of the Christian
community. ... Every little drop of that experience is of almost
inconceivable value and vastly transcends the assembled community
itself. In other words, the divine energy that is accessed by each
one's participation ... becomes a kind of universal prayer for the
needs of the whole human family. It has a radiation that is truly
apostolic in the sense of transmitting the grace of Christ into this
world. ...Through contemplative prayer, we are moving into a realm of
reality that influences the past and the future perhaps more than
anything else we could do."
-- Thomas Keating, “Intimacy with God”
MUSINGS IN MY
JOURNEY THRU CENTERING PRAYER
“Without centering prayer to start my day, my work in “Arko”, would be
just another job – devoid of meaning and purpose.”
-- Betty F.
(Editor’ note: Betty is Chairman of “Arko”, Philippine affiliate of
L’Arche, an international community taking care of the severely
handicapped, founded by Jean Vanier)
“CP is the glue that holds me together.” -- Billie T.
“Self- knowledge is often daunting... Knowing one's foibles and
weaknesses could be demoralizing. But, again this is where humility
and acceptance of one's human condition come in with a challenge to go
beyond the human condition.” -- Carmel D.
“I think that self- knowledge is one of the greatest gifts l got from
doing CP, and loving myself "in spite of myself" can make me love
others too and accept others as they are, not trying to “change them”
but accepting their human condition too and loving them "in spite of
themselves". -- Anna Marie L.
“The difference between CONSENT vs. ACCEPT is that the former is more
positive while the latter is negative. Why so? Because to consent is a
free choice we make to be in alignment with the will of God for us. To
accept denotes we have no choice in the matter. The former is
proactive and the latter is after the fact.” -- Ping O.
“It is in the everyday-ness of my life that CP really shines. It
brings me to a constant awareness of God’s presence in everything –
within me, around me, in all the circumstances and experiences that I
go thru, even in the silence. I don’t know what I’d do without CP.” --
“Although we did not choose our birth, our parents, our family, our
environment and many circumstances of our life, what we do with our
free will which is God’s gift to us, is completely our choice. We
exercise this gift by our decision to do good or not every day of our
lives. Because of our human condition we face many challenges in our
intention to follow the ways of the Lord. Thanks to Centering Prayer
that helps us deepen our relationship with God and keeps us grounded in what
truly matters in our journey thru life. -- Esther P.
I met a man once who’d had a near-death experience; he almost drowned.
He was very happy going down the tunnel of light into the great
embrace of love that he perceived to be drawing him. Presumably he was
thrashing around in the water physically trying to survive, but
actually, in the depths of his consciousness, he was having a great
time. Anyway, he got the message that it wasn’t his time so he came
back. He came back first of all without a fear of death, and that
changed his life, but also with a conviction that he had a work to do,
he had something to complete. And he was a bit anxious about what he
should do with his life now. I think he was thinking primarily in
terms of what kind of job he should do or where he should live,
various external aspects of the work he should do, but I think what he
needed to find was the interior meaning of that work. What he needed,
what we all need, is to find ourselves. That is the essential work of
-- Fr. Laurence Freeman
WAKING UP AND
Fr. Thomas has asked the Centering Prayer community to spend the next
year going back to basics. For much of the past 12 years I have been
revisiting Thomas’ teachings on Centering Prayer and the Christian
spiritual journey by serving at least one long Centering Prayer
intensive retreat a year in which I prepare by reading both Open
Mind, Open Heart and Invitation to Love. This may seem a
little over board in terms of preparation but I find each yearly
reading brings me closer to absorbing the materials with my heart
rather than my head.
Contemplative Outreach is preparing a new, yearlong online journey*
into Thomas’ Spiritual Journey series. Some of you may think,
"I’ve already seen those videos—they are so old!" Or, that you are
evolved beyond the teachings. Maybe you think that you have mastered
Centering Prayer. Or even that it’s all about the prayer—"I don’t need
to look at my falsity as God has this covered." Thomas teaches that
there is both the prayer—our consent to God’s presence and action
within and remembering who we are in God -- which is balanced by our
looking within at our unrecognized needs for security, power/control,
affection/esteem and our unconscious identification and conforming to
our group. Although he began these teachings decades ago, they are
still timely and inform our journeys now. Please open your hearts and
minds to discern if this is the time to explore Thomas’ teachings with
new eyes, new ears and a new heart.*
I would like to share how Thomas’ teachings have informed and formed
our Colorado Springs Centering Prayer community over the past six
years. Our story may help in your discernment process.
Most Thursday mornings, I drive 55 miles south to a church that for
the last five years has invited us to share Fr. Thomas’ teachings on
Centering Prayer, other contemplative practices, and the Christian
contemplative journey, especially the human condition.
Each January a new group gathers from Centering Prayer communities in
Denver south to Pueblo – over 100 miles from north to south – to pray
together, learn together, and grow together in an atmosphere of
ecumenical dialogue. We are mainline Protestants, Catholics,
Evangelicals, and interspiritual people who are drawn back to
Christianity by this prayer.
Our sharing at first is measured, each open to hear each other, but
trying to understand each other’s nuanced Christian language for the
same experiences. It takes about six weeks for us to become a
community bonded in God’s love and grace -- one where we are connected
by our hearts, and where our membership is in the human family rather
than our individual denominations.
Our reading and video viewing begins with Thomas’ teaching on
Centering Prayer. We take the time to hear for the first, or the
second, or third, or 20th time, the method of the prayer of consent.
For those of us who do not have a practice, this beginning helps us to
establish our prayer time. For those of us who do have a practice, it
helps us recommit to our daily prayer time. We read and ponder how
Thomas’ book Open Mind, Open Heart informs our lives at this
point in our journeys. This commitment to our prayer time is sometimes
referred to as our waking up – becoming more aware and remembering our
relationship with God and our basic core of goodness. It reminds us of
the greatest commandment to love God with all of ourselves and to love
others and ourselves as well.
Next, we dive into Thomas’ teaching of Centering Prayer’s sister
prayer: Lectio Divina. Many of the people in our community have
studied or heard the Bible every day of their lives. Learning to pray
the Scriptures is very powerful and leads to resting in God’s embrace
in the word. Many are comforted by how Lectio Divina informs the
Centering Prayer method.
Just before our summer break, we begin to explore Thomas’ teaching on
the human condition. Here we learn about the energy centers. We
grapple with our addictions -- small and large -- those hidden and
those we are just a little aware of. This inward look or growing up is
balanced by our renewed confidence in our relationship with God.
In the fall sessions, we explore our human condition, our false self,
and try to remember our true self – who God sent us into the world to
be. We ponder Thomas’ teaching on the beatitudes, the spiritual senses
and the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. Again, the remembrance and
celebration of who we are in God and how we interact with the people,
the creatures and God’s creation around us. The Welcoming Prayer
becomes a practice to consent to God in the active moments of our
Our formation ends with a call to service. Our contemplation leads to
action expressed in as many different ways as there are folks in the
group. We celebrate and are sent off to join Centering Prayer groups
in our area.
But something funny happens: a few of us return again the following
year to revisit the same teachings. Contemplative learning is hearing
or praying the same thing over and over but hearing and exploring it
with our hearts and minds at the new place we are in the journey. Our
books are highlighted in many different colors as the words touch us
in different ways. Recently, I got to our session and told one of the
other facilitators that the video of the day was my favorite video of
the year. Yet at the end of the day, I shared that it felt like I had
never seen this video before! I didn’t forget the teachings, but was
ready to hear them in a new way, with new eyes and new ears and a new
heart and even a new brain.
This invitation to travel together that Fr. Thomas and the
Contemplative Outreach team is putting before us is a call back to
basics, so we can wake up more, and grow up more, and remember more
who we are in God, who we are as words of God sent into the world to
serve, and who we are in relation to those around us and to the entire
cosmos. Come and see*.
FROM A CHERISHED PAST
By Chuchi De Guzman-Daroy
I was able to get a book by Fr. Guido Arguelles, SJ - 'Shafts of
Light.' More than just being full of inspiration for the present
times, it is also very much a look back to when he 'led' our group of
high school students on the spiritual/social/ political and personal
path to real democratic freedom for all Filipinos in the early 70s.
Then was a time of building resistance to local political pressures as
well as global aggression in the commodification of each person and
the earth. I started reading it cautiously with a prayer that this
journey past and present will fulfill for us the true life of freedom
and Presence in God.
When I finally finished Fr. Guido's book I can tell that the lyricism
is light and simple, yet really full of marrow of the real Filipino
faith. There is the angst of living the Spirit we cannot grasp and
keep, although we keep reaching out for it in our search for the
authentic Filipino identity.
But through the years we are at the edge of a transgenerational
revolution in a higher consciousness as a Christ-people. Look at our
spontaneous response to disaster, calamity and sickness -- we easily
reach out and try to help in small and big ways.
Mercy and compassion is the faith of little people magnified in humble
and quiet efforts. This communion leaves marks on our time in this
earth, on which future generations can build upon, and live from.
Beauty and celebration is at the heart of the Filipino's expression of
this great Love. May our prayer in silence and our clinging to the
Word nourish and feed our Soul for life in eternity.
HOW TO "MAKE
STRAIGHT THE WAY OF GOD"
By Joan Chittister
It was not what I expected to have happen at a White House Conference
in Washington, D.C. on the relationship of the faith community to race
relations in the United States. But because of that meeting I began to
realize what Christmas is really all about. We were black, white, and
brown, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Bahai and Native Americans called
together to discuss the relationship of religion to race. Ironically
enough, it was the Indian chief who taught me the meaning of Isaiah.
Into the midst of the theological meanderings of those of us who
wanted to write another paper, have another meeting, take another
workshop to combat racism, the Chief brought the message of Isaiah
again. He stood up slowly, folded his hands quietly in front of him,
looked out over our heads and said softly, “I have spent my life
teaching our children to say ‘thank you’: Thank you for the grass.
Thank you for the rain. Thank you for the stranger. Thank you for all
the people of the world. I think that if we learn to say ‘thank you’
for everything, we will come to realize its value, to respect it, to
see it as sacred.”
It was a simple speech but it had a kind of cataclysmic effect on my
soul. It gave me pause. It made me think. It raised the specter of
Isaiah in me all over again. It made me think newly about what the
scriptures are really talking about when they tell us to “make
straight the way of God.” I suddenly realized that Christmas is time
to shout, “thank you.”
Christmas is the commitment to life made incarnate. It is the call to
see God everywhere and especially in those places we would not expect
to find glory and grace. It is the call to exult in life.
Christmas is the obligation to see that everything leads us directly
to God, to realize that there is no one, nothing on earth that is not
the way to God for me. I knew instantly that the moment we begin to
really celebrate Christmas, to look at everyone and everything as a
revelation of God, to say “thank you” for them, that racism would be
over, war would be no more, world hunger would disappear, everything
would be gift, everyone would be sacred.
Indeed, it is simple but oh, so clear: All we have to do to “make
straight the way of God” is to say “thank you,” to learn to live
intensely, to have a zeal for life, to develop a passion for life.
PRAYER HAS ENRICHED MY SPIRITUAL LIFE
By Germelina Lising
The very core of Centering Prayer is relationship with the Lord.
Centering Prayer has brought me to a new level of such a relationship.
In the past, my prayer life was dictated by my own limited
conceptualizations of who God is, what He wants from me, what I want
from Him, etc. Centering Prayer has freed me from all that, opening
and expanding my mind and my heart, thus bringing me to levels beyond
my human limitations and beyond all my imaginings.
"Be Still and Know that I am God."
(Psalm 46) "Silence is God's first language; everything else is a poor
translation . In order to hear that language, we must learn to be
still and rest in God." (Father Thomas Keating)
"Silence of the heart is necessary so you can hear God everywhere."
In the silence and in stillness, I rest in God’s palm beyond concepts,
listening to the murmurings of His heart as He listens to mine -
beyond words, beyond concepts, beyond feelings,
On Mondays, I practice Centering Prayer with a group at Santuario de
San Antonio parish center. Here I am acutely aware of the intent of
each person. In deep silence, we are all mutually seeking that
relationship with the Lord, one that is growing and deepening. Now and
then His presence becomes more palpable, affirming us in our spiritual
After centering prayer, we do Lectio Divina . This time, sharing His
word in community where we verbalize that mutual consent, seeking Him
through and with one another. We listen to His words, and we listen to
each other's conversation with Him. And we grow in relationship with
Him and with one another. Spiritual friendship that is beautiful and
I leave the centering prayer meeting in peace. Peace beyond words,
beyond understanding, beyond all imagining.
May His peace be with us all.
The following are some reflections and personal sharings by some
members of Contemplative Outreach Phil. (COP) regarding their
experience, growth and relationship with God thru Centering Prayer. It
is a journey of hope, joy and transformation
“Centering prayer has
made me aware of the importance of silence in my life, which in turn
helps me in my prayer life leading to a deeper relationship with God.
Thru centering prayer I have grown in self-knowledge allowing me to be
more calm and tolerant of the people I work with. I also notice that I
am less anxious over situations and circumstances that are beyond my
control, trusting in God Who loves me unconditionally.”
Diva Abad Santos,
Don Bosco, Makati Centering Prayer Group
Centering Prayer, the
prayer of silence, has helped me retain my serenity and peacefulness
in the midst of turmoil and chaos in the world around me. My sacred
word, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy”, automatically rises up in
me even when I am not consciously praying.
Thru centering prayer,
I have come to realize that the two greatest commandments, love of God
and love of neighbor, are not just mere words to remember but to be
lived concretely in daily life. It is only when ones walks in the
shoes of another, so to speak, that one can better understand what it
is to suffer what my neighbor suffers. After experiencing God’s
infinite mercy, I can be more understanding, patient and compassionate
towards everybody - family, friends, community, society, all of
I continue to struggle
and fall in my life’s journey but feel undaunted, knowing that God is
on my side helping me to be the person that He created me to be, a
beautiful person in His own image and likeness. It is my desire to be
His faithful servant.
Violet de Borja,
Our Lady of the Rosary Centering Prayer Group
“I work with poor,
hungry children and the most marginalized families in our society thru
an NGO I started in 2001. The task requires long hours, tireless
energy and faithful dedication to the programs of health/feeding,
scholarship, livelihood, food sustainability, agriculture and
fisheries nationwide. The number of underprivileged children and
families get bigger as l, in my very senior years, grow older. How do
l find the perseverance to continue doing my work which began 16 years
ago? Only thru God’s grace!
To my mind, Centering
prayer is the “conduit” of this grace that filters down into my whole
being moment to moment, day after day as I go about my ministry to the
poor thru the NGO, Kabisig ng Kalahi. Even so, I've stopped analyzing
the how’s and why’s of centering prayer in my life’s journey. I just
know it is what it is. Thank you Lord always and forever.
Vicky Wieneke, St.
Benedict Centering Prayer Group
I thank God for giving
me the gift of centering prayer! I have been practicing it since the
1980’s when I first heard the audio tapes of Fr. Thomas Keating and
the late Fr. Basil Pennington, two Trappist monks who I was also
blessed to meet in person, during centering prayer workshops and
retreats. My spiritual journey has also been enriched by the wisdom
and friendship of Lita Salinas, who started and nurtured Contemplative
Outreach Phil, in my parish, Santuario de San Antonio, 27 years ago.
Through all these years
I have grown more and more in love with Jesus Christ. He has become
the “Ikaw” (“Thou”) of my life. He is my most intimate companion.
Through Centering Prayer I have learned to embrace people from all
walks of life and have chosen to help them by serving in the different
ministries of the Social Services ministry of SSA parish.
Prayer I feel an overwhelming sense of God’s love and presence in my
life. Everyday I look forward to a new encounter with Jesus!
Galilee Centering Prayer Group
Work is Prayer in
I am now approaching my
retirement from a job I have come to love and grow with. I was hired
as a scientist (fulfillment of a childhood dream) at the same time
that I began Centering Prayer and the journey to contemplative living.
Thus, my job became a major part of my spiritual life with its
moorings in contemplative prayer and lectio divina, unfolding in
self-knowledge and wisdom, and the many lessons in humility, patience,
and forgiveness. Yes, in the workplace and among my colleagues, staff
and superiors, growth in learning the Presence of God in each moment
fostered meaningful relationships that extended beyond the bounds of
job descriptions, pecking order, rules and duties. I came to know my
workmates as true children of God with their aspirations and hopes,
graces and flaws, their ups and downs. I learned from them to be
humble instead of ambitious, to be charitable instead of frustrated,
to be obedient and not resentful, and to be open and accepting to the
cross of disappointments, imperfect relationships, and the superficial
lack of insight that pervades our daily grind.
enabled me to look mindfully at the many opportunities to let God
answer my prayers for healing, for mercy, for guidance and providence,
and even for miracles.
As I prepare to move
into a new phase in my life in the coming months, I will remember with
much love how a life of prayer and faithful listening to God’s Word
made my work a place of purpose, meaning, deep friendship and fruitful
Bethany Centering Prayer Group
Jesus is my life, my
all at each and every moment! His Presence is a present, a gift of
life, a gift of love, peace and abundance. Thru my spiritual practices
especially Centering Prayer, my relationship with my God is one that
permeates every aspect of my life, every cell of my being more than I
can ever fathom! His inscrutable ways of loving and caring amidst all
that is the opposite of a life in God are beyond imagining!
Contemplative Outreach, Phil.
Be still and know that I am God (Ps 46:10). I came across this
verse when I first encountered Centering Prayer in 1997. My reaction
WHAT! Quiet, stillness? What about the rosary and litanies I was
taught by the nuns to pray? Centering Prayer assures me all this has
its place in my prayer life. But so does silence, stillness, and
The silence as a way to “hang out” with my Father and Savior who also
happens to be my Friend. As my Friend, He listens to my constant
pleading, demanding, negotiating for this, that, and everything in
between. And always, He holds me in that space of love, mercy, and
compassion. As I persevered in the practice of Centering Prayer,
however, I began to understand I needed to stop talking and start
listening. In Centering Prayer I found that quiet space to listen to
my Friend with the ear of my heart.
As an introvert, surface quiet is easy. But surface quiet does not
equate to inner quiet. An introvert’s inner life can be loud, messy,
and mostly self-entertaining. In the face of inner noise and the
busy-ness of life, it takes commitment and faithfulness to the
practice of Centering Prayer to reach a certain level of deep silence.
Enough silence to help me listen to the movement of the Spirit rather
than the dictates of my ego, to relish the present moment instead of
always anxiously anticipating what comes next, and to savor peace in
the midst of chaos.
It takes faithfulness to get to this space of silence because without
it, I may miss hearing my Friend’s whisper or His laughter, the feel
of His arms around me, or know in my heart that we love because He
first loved us (1 Jn 4:19).
Visit us at www.cophil.org
Len Hizon is a member of the CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH PHILIPPINES (COP)
and the Santuario de San Antonio Support group.