Expert Answer Forum

centering prayer QUESTION from Stephan E. Andersson May 17, 2000 what is the magesterium's position on centering prayer as it is propounded by Frs. Keating and Pennington?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on June 13, 2000 Dear Mr. Andersson:
The Magisterium does not and cannot rule on every specific item. As far as I know, no specific opinion has been issued.
The Magisterium, like parents with their children, expect us to obtain informed consciences and to learn the principles of discernment so that when confronted with an issue that has not been specifically ruled upon, we can make the proper decision.
The Vatican has issued a document about Eastern non-Catholic meditation tradition and cautions people about it since while there are elements similar to Christian meditation, there are also elements that are contrary to Christianity and some that are outright dangerous spiritually.
I don't know why people feel they need to borrow mediation techniques from the Eastern non-Christianity philosophies. The Catholic Church has it own rich and ancient heritage of meditation that we KNOW to be okay because the Church has approved of it and it has been tested over the centuries.
Actually, I do know one reason. People are lazy and they want what they want and they want it know. Meditation and especially contemplative prayer methods take MANY, MANY years to master both in the Christian tradition and in the non-Christian Eastern tradition. But there is some weird idea that the methods of the East can be short-cuts.
Just like the typical American, we wish to take the short-cut. We don't want to work for the genuine thing.
Centering Prayer does this. It attempts to provide a short-cut. There are no short-cuts.
Centering Prayer tries to integrate Eastern non-Christian ideas into it own system in an attempt to facilitate this short-cut.
The biggest problem of all about the short-cut, other than there are none in genuine and REAL contemplation, is that the very attempt to use these short-cuts is thumbing one's nose at God.
The higher forms of contemplation are a gift from God. God does not give that gift to everyone. So arrogant people try to convince interested souls that they too have have these heights of contemplation that have been deprived of them. We will simply STEAL them from God since He is not giving them to us.
This is the most offensive part of Centering Prayer and other similar methods. It is really trying to steal the gift from God.
The three articles linked below serve as a good summary of this issue and an explanation of why Centering Prayer is wrong:
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