Deepening our relationship with God
through the practice of Centering Prayer
Our next meeting will be on January 15, 2019.
During the winter we meet weekly on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Children’s Chapel at the rear of the Maple Grove United Church Sanctuary. Usually, after we meditate for 20 minutes, we pause for a short break for tea, cookies and chatting, followed by reading and discussion or watching relevant videos. We read books and watch videos about Christian meditation by people such as Father Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault, Richard Rohr, Henri Nouwen, and others. In May, 2018, we started Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond.
Please join us!
The spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer has an extremely long tradition in Christianity. Initially developed by hermits and monks, it has remained a sought-after method of experiencing the presence of God deep inside the self. One contemporary expression of this ancient practice is called Centering Prayer; you can experience it at Maple Grove United Church.
Here is a summary of the contemporary practice of Centering Prayer – https://cac.org/centering-prayer-weekly-summary-2017-02-18/
To learn more about our practice, you can watch these videos:
- A brief video by Cynthia Bourgeault with an excellent description of how to do Centering Prayer and why it works – https://youtu.be/1aQmQu4lufo
- A 9 minute video on how to practise Centering Prayer
- A video with Father Keating
- An interview with Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest devoted to the contemplative path.
- Read about Centering Prayer on Wikipedia
- Or check out these resources – http://silenceteaches.com/resources/
Centering Prayer – Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
My good friend Thomas Keating (1923–2018), who recently passed away, dedicated the last several decades of his life to inter-spiritual dialogue and to teaching Centering Prayer, which he developed with William Meninger and Basil Pennington. Keating explained this contemplative practice in this way:
Centering Prayer is a method designed to facilitate the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to receive this gift. . . . It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. This method of prayer is a movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him. 
Centering Prayer is based on the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:6): “If you want to pray, enter your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Notice that “Father” refers to a personal relationship, whether you call it father, mother, brother, soul-friend, spouse or anything else.
The first step in Centering Prayer is to enter your inner room, which is symbolized by the heart in most traditions; that is, your innermost self beyond the senses and beyond thinking. . . .
Second, “close the door,” symbolizing your intention of letting go of all thoughts, preoccupations, memories and plans during this time. As soon as you are overtaken by thoughts, which is inevitable in the beginning, return to your original intention to let go of all thinking. You can do this in a very simple and extremely gently way, like saying a sacred word briefly, noticing your breath, or turning to God with a brief glance of faith in His presence.
Finally, you pray in secret to the Father who speaks to you beyond words and who invites you to ever deeper silence. . . .
The steps I have just mentioned are guidelines. Instead of using a word or noticing your breath, you can also use a sacred image to return to. These symbols do not establish you in interior silence; they simply reaffirm your original intention to be in God’s presence and to be open to the divine action. . . . The fruit of this prayer is not something you produce. You simply reduce the obstacles by providing an interior environment in which the Spirit can speak without words in the inmost depths of your being.
As you practice Centering Prayer, you begin to experience the value of inner silence, which reveals the true self. The presence of God can also be experienced through the love of nature, deep friendship, conjugal love, generous service of others, or the discoveries of genuine science. There are many roads leading to the awakening of the original endowment that God has given every human being, of which the gift of contemplation is one. Contemplation . . . is a gift that has already been given. You have got it! What you have to do is to allow it to awaken within you. 
One of the best ways to get to know what it is about is by getting in touch with group co-ordinator Michella Poetz at 905-827-6195 or michellapoetz @ gmail . com (with no spaces) or Joan Vinall-Cox – joan . vinallcox @ gmail . com (no spaces) and coming to our meetings.
We open our awareness to the Ultimate Mystery
whom we know by faith is within us,
closer than breathing, closer than thinking,
closer than choosing, closer than consciousness itself.
The Ultimate Mystery is the ground in which
our being is rooted,
the source from whom our life emerges