Centering Prayer rooted in Catholic tradition


To the Editor:
I was delighted to see Glenn Leach’s letter supporting the practice of contemplative prayer. It is strange to me to hear Catholic Christians label contemplation as a New Age phenomenon.
While many in other faith traditions do practice meditation and understand the value of union with God in prayer, “Centering Prayer” as it is often called, is firmly and deeply rooted in Catholic tradition. St. John of the Cross, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Teresa of Avila (the author of The Cloud of Unknowing), St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, Juliana of Norwich, Hans Urs von Balthazar, Thomas Merton and a host of others have given us a broad and extensive body of work on which to base our exploration of contemplative prayer.
Certainly Eastern meditation practice did begin to inform Christian meditation study and practice in the last century, but in no way have Eastern traditions displaced or replaced the wealth of Catholic teaching and experience with regard to contemplation.
Of all the people I know who practice Centering Prayer, I have never known one who did not encounter Jesus, including myself, and find a richer, fuller relationship with Christ.
I pray that Father Carl Arico’s day at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf was a great success and that more Catholics will discover Christ anew in the way of contemplative prayer.
Ric Smith
Ss. Mary & Mathias Parish

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