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Centering Prayer QUESTION from Steve Farley February 16, 2000 I have become more and more pulled towards contemplative prayer. In the course of my readings and research I have come across this method of taught contemplation. As a convert from conservative evangelical protestantism I have a kneejerk reaction against anything that feels New Age. What I've been able to read on this topic so far hasn't resolved the question. Is this a good thing that can also be used for evil, or is it something that seems beneficial but isn't? Thanks for your help. Grace and peace
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on February 22, 2000 Dear Mr. Farley:
Your instincts are correct! Centering Prayer is New Age in nature and should be avoided at all costs. No Catholic has any business involving themselves in this contaminated form of prayer.
Like all New Age forms of meditation, this one too, tries to provide a shortcut to what normally takes a lifetime.
In some was Centering Prayer is cheap rip off of Hesychasm. Hesychasts were contemplative monks in the Eastern Church who developed a form of contemplative prayer that included an external discipline of breathing control, posture, etc. which aided concentration. The object of concentration was the short prayer, O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God (as one breathes in deeply), have mercy on me, a sinner (as on exhales).
This form of prayer, which seems similar to various Eastern non-Christian mediations is NOT the same thing as those non-Christian forms. But like the real non-Christian Eastern forms of meditation, this form too requires years of practice under the teaching of masters.
But the Western Mind can barely wait for coffee to warm in a microwave let alone undergo strict discipline for years, so a enterprising Hindu invented TM (Transcendental Mediation) for which REAL gurus in India laugh at, and some Catholic priests created a form of prayer that is contaminated with non-Christian concepts called Centering Prayer, which like TM is designed for the attention deficient American consumer.
We must also remember that the higher forms of contemplative prayer are a gift from God that is NOT given to everyone. Often people don’t want to accept the fact that they were not given this gift and try to rob the gift from God by using Eastern techniques or American Indian techniques, etc. Center Prayer is just one of these techniques.
A good article that describes the dangers of Centering Prayer is located in our Library. Here is the direct Link:
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