Tag Archives: Trappist

Finding Your Inner Room

Rome 5 June 08 (44)

Everyone needs and inner room, a place where you are with God and God alone. There is really only one way and that is by way of the prayer of quiet. You might begin by learning about centering prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault or David Frenette, or meditation as taught by James Findlay and others.

 

There are four stages of prayer:

 

First: We speak, God listens. Oratio.

 

This would encompass all forms of prayer in words whether read aloud or quietly, or called to mind and recited either internally or externally. May include prayers of petition, thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, etc.

 

Second: God speaks, we listen

 

. This would encompass reading and reflecting upon God’s word whether it be written as in scripture or as it is found in nature. This may lead to what westerners refer to as meditation, (meditatio) but not necessarily. At its best, this prayer is a meditation on the Word God is speaking to me at this moment. It may be as simple as noticing a roadrunner scurry across the road and reflecting upon the message the creature is bringing to me. It typically refers to taking a short scriptural passage and ruminating upon it until it breaks open.

 

Third: No one speaks, both listen.

 

This is the beginning of the prayer that leads to the inner room. Centering prayer fits this description as the purpose of this prayer is to gently, ever so gently, let go, repeatedly if need be, of thoughts while resting in the space between the thoughts. This is a prayer of letting go of the reigns, so to speak. One is open, receptively waiting upon the presence and action of the Holy One, without expectation. Be stll and know that I am God. We are not listening for any particular messages, in fact, all thoughts and feelings are released the moment we become aware that we have been carried away by them. We are simply being present to one another.

 

Fourth: No one speaks, no one listens. Silence.

 

Also referred to in the West as contemplation or contemplatio. This prayer is typically understood in Catholic circles to be pure gift and it is gift but the gift becomes more readily available to the ones who have fostered the space in which the gift can be received. This is the prayer of the inner room. Although most of us throughout our lives have tasted fleeting moments of this prayer outside of the context of prayer as it is being described here, nonetheless, one needs to cultivate an attitude of receptivity in order to experience this stage of prayer to which each and every one of us is called. It is not reserved for a few lofty souls. Mystical experience may happen for a few but they are not necessary and typically prove to be a hindrance to contemplation because the recipient tends get caught up in them and struggles to let go of them.

 

To find your inner room, you must shut the door and wait quietly, patiently, receptively, without expectations upon God.

 

For you Holy One, my soul in stillness waits.

 

 

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Filed under Centering Prayer, Prayer, Thomas Keating

A Prayer from Merton 2

I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am

Thomas Merton portrait by Jim Nally

Thomas Merton portrait by Jim Nally (Photo credit: jimforest)


actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please You
does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that, if I do this, You will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me,
and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—— Thomas Merton

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Filed under Christian Journey, Prayer, Thomas Merton

Contemplation and Silence

Sketch by myself with effects applied.

Self Drawing

The fact remains that contemplation will not be given to those who willfully remain at a distance from God, who confine their interior life to a few exercises of piety and a few external acts of worship and service performed as a matter of duty. Such people are careful to avoid sin. They respect God as master. But their heart does not belong to Him.

——-Thomas Merton “What is Contemplation?”

 

Those words written by Merton over sixty years ago still resonate for Christians in our diverse and increasingly secularized world. Surprisingly, Merton’s little book was written to lead young men as they sought to be formed as Trappist monks. The twenty first century is bringing a great cry for a deepening spirituality from all areas of society. The New Monastic movement, and interest in all forms of spirituality are on the rise. A real sense of lostness, uncertainty, and fear is gripping our world. Merton cuts to the heart of the problem. Mere personal piety, no matter how sincere, will not bring us to a heart union with God.

Let me suggest a simple spirituality that is based on contemplative prayer that allows God to enter into our lives in times of quiet stillness. This is an offering of ourselves to God without expectation or certainty. It is a call to embrace the mystery of God as a journey to the unknown. Such a journey cannot be measured by acts of piety, times of worship, but in the giving of ourselves to a God we cannot fully understand. Such acts of trust allow God to be the transforming factor of our lives.

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Filed under Contemplation, Faith, New Monasticism, Prayer, Thomas Merton