Welcome to the New ASC Web Site:

Contemplative Corner!

 Each month CC will offer a short meditation for you to contemplate. In a fast moving world where we are bombarded with information from all sides, CC invites you to slow down and be present with the wisdom teachings of the Christian tradition and those in solidarity with these teachings from other traditions. CC also has resources for you to further your interest should you want to deepen your understanding of contemplative practices.

            You are on this web page for a reason – curiosity, intellectual interest, Divine guidance.  Now, as you read slowly, let your heart and mind be open and consent to the presence of the indwelling of the Divine, and be transformed.

 

This month we are offering a meditation by Mirabai Starr, from her latest book,

Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics.

Mirabai will be here at ASC on October 6, 2019, at 5:00pm to speak about her book and we wanted you to have a preview of it.

When you are done reading, click around on our site and see what else CC has to offer. We are new and welcome feedback, so don’t hesitate to contact us with comments or questions.

 

Yours in Christ,

The Centering Prayer Ministry

Carol, Richard, and Brian

TURNING INWARD

Cultivating Contemplative Life

An except from Wild Mercy by Mirabai Starr

Contemplative life flows in a circular pattern: awe provokes introspection, which invokes awe.

            Maybe you’re making dinner and you step outside to snip chives from the kitchen garden just as the harvest moon is rising over the easterslopes. She is full and golden, like one of those pregnant women who radiate from within. Suddenly you cannot bear the beauty. Scissors suspended in your hand, tears pooling at the corners of your eyes, you nearly quit breathing. Your gaze softens, and the edges of your individual identity fade. You are absorbed into the heart of the moon. If feels natural, and there is no other place you’d rather be. But the onions are burning, and so you turn away and cut your herbs and go back inside. You resume stirring the sauce and setting the table.

This is not the first time you have disappeared into something beautiful. You have experienced the unfettering of the subject-object distinction while holding your daughter’s hand as she labored to give birth to your grandson; when you curled up in bed with your dying friend and sang her Haskiveinu, the Hebrew prayer for a peaceful sleep; while yielding to your lover’s lips. You have lost yourself in heartbreak, then lost the desire to ever regain yourself, then lost your fear of death. You long ago relinquished your need for cosmic order and personal control. You welcome unknowingness.

            Which is why seemingly ordinary moments like moonrises and lovemaking undo you. The veil has been pulled back. Everything feels inexhaustibly holy. This is not what they taught you in the church of your childhood. Your soul had been formed in the forge of life’s losses, galvanized in the crucible of community, fertilized by the rain of relationship, blessed by your intimacy with Mother Earth. You have glimpsed the face of the Divine where you least expected it.

            And this is why you cultivate contemplative practice. The more you intentionally turn inward, the more available the sacred becomes.  When you sit in silence and turn your gaze toward the Holy Mystery you once called God, the Mystery follows you back out into the world.  When you walk with a purposeful forceson breath and bird song, your breathing and the twitter of the chickadee reveal themselves as a miracle. When you eat your burrito mindfully, gratitude for every step that led to the perfect combination of beans and cheese and tortilla —fills your heart and render you even more inclined to be grateful.

             So sit down to meditate not only because it helps you to find rest in the arms of the formless Beloved but also because it increases your chance of being stunned by beauty when you get back up. Encounters with the sacred that radiate from the core of the ordinary embolden you to cultivate stillness and simple awareness. In the mist of a world that is begging you to distract yourself, this is no easy practice. Yet you keep showing up. You are indomitable. You are thirsty for wonder.

Union with God is not something any of us needs to acquire. It only needs to be realized. By way of intentional silence and self-surrender into the practice of contemplation the illusion of separation from God dispelled.

Martin Laird, OSD

Contemplative practices facilitate and deepen our relationship with God. The more we practice and allow the transformation process to happen, the more we are able to experience the Indwelling Presence in everything we do. Contemplative practices give us the eyes to see and the ears to hear God calling us to the banquet that is our lives, as they are.

 

Centering Prayer 

 

Centering Prayer is a receptive method of Christian silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than consciousness itself. 

 

Meditation

 

Taizé

 

Labyrinth 

 

Lectio Divina 

 

Active Prayer Practice 

 

The active prayer—an aspiration drawn from Scripture for us in daily life — is short, usually six to twelve syllables. The saying of the syllables is synchronized with one’s heartbeat. While some people like to use a variety of aspirations for this purpose, it is easier to work a single aspiration into the subconscious. The great advantage of this practice is that it eventually becomes a “tape” similar to the “tapes” that accompany one’s upsetting emotions. When this occurs, the aspiration has the remarkable effect of erasing the old tapes, thus providing a neutral zone in which common sense or the Spirit of God can suggest what should be done.

The active prayer has to be repeated again and again at free moments in order to work it into the subconscious. The old tapes were built up through repeated acts. A new tape can be established in the same way. It may take a year to establish one’s active prayer in the subconscious. It will then arise spontaneously. One may wake up saying it or it may accompany one’s dreams. 

Go about this practice without anxiety, haste, or excessive effort. Do not blame yourself for forgetting to say it on some days; just start up again. It should not be repeated when your mind is occupied with other things such as conversation, study, or work requiring concentration. 

Examples of the active prayer: 

O Lord, come to my assistance.
Lord, increase my faith. 

O God, make haste to help me.
Not my will but thine be done. 

Holy Mary, Mother of God.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. 

Abide in my love.
Open my heart to Your love. 

My God and My All.
Jesus, my light and my love. 

My Jesus, mercy.  
May my being praise you, Lord. 

I belong to you, O Lord.
Our help is in the name of the Lord. 

Open my heart to your love
Holy Spirit, pray in me. 

Lord, I give myself to you.
Lord, do with me what You will. 

My Lord and my God. 
Speak Lord, Your servant is listening. 

Bless the Lord, my soul. 
To you oh Lord, I lift my prayer.

 

Excerpted from Thomas Keating’s Open Mind, Open Heart

 

And many more…

 

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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