Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis’ mission is to share the practice of Centering Prayer.
While we encourage every practice leading to contemplative prayer, our principal purpose is to share the method and conceptual background of Centering Prayer.
The following information is from our International website for Contemplative Outreach Ltd.
…is a method of prayer which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God’s presence and action within.
…facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
…is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, and the writings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.
The Method of Centering Prayer
- Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within. (Use a word of one or two syllables, such as God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Mary, amen, love, listen, mercy, let go, silence, stillness, faith, trust, gentle.)
- Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.
- When engaged with your thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word. (Thoughts include body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections.)
- At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes.
Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation, a conversation initiated by God and leading, if we consent, to Divine union. Our way of seeing reality changes in this process. A restructuring of consciousness takes place which empowers us to perceive, relate and respond with increasing sensitivity to the Divine presence in, through, and beyond everything that exists.
In silence we come to know and live from the Divine Mystery within us.
The fruit of contemplative prayer manifests through the growing awareness of God as the Source and Center of all and in the increasing capacity to live ordinary life with extraordinary love.
Our Theological Principles
- Contemplative Outreach is a community of individuals and Centering Prayer groups committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life.
- A commitment to the daily practice of Centering Prayer is the primary expression of belonging to Contemplative Outreach.
- Listening to the word of God in scripture through the practice of Lectio Divina is encouraged, particularly its movement into contemplative prayer, which a daily practice of Centering Prayer facilitates.
- The source of Centering Prayer is the Indwelling Trinity. Its practice consists of responding to the call of the Holy Spirit to consent to the Divine presence and action within us.
- The Divine presence affirms our basic core of goodness made in the image of God.
- The Divine action is the process of transformation in Christ which inspires and deepens our consent.
- The contemplative dimension of the Gospel manifests as an ever-deepening union with Christ and the practical caring for others that flows from this relationship. It reveals the deeper meaning of Christ’s life and teaching.
- Our relationship with the living Christ is the bond uniting us together in mutual love.
- While formed by our respective denominations, we are united in our common search for God and our experience of Christ through Centering Prayer.
- We identify with the Christian contemplative heritage in which Centering Prayer is rooted. We recognize this heritage as the common ground for Christian unity.
- We affirm our solidarity with the contemplative dimension of other religions and sacred traditions.
- Through the continuing practice of Centering Prayer, we experience a deepening commitment to the needs and rights of each member of the human family and an increasing respect for the interdependence of all creation.
- We foster a spirit of unity, generosity and utmost charity in all our relationships.
- Following the teachings of Jesus, we exercise leadership through an attitude of humility, listening and service.
- We recognize and maintain a spiritual relationship with Saint Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.
- We acknowledge that any good accomplished by Contemplative Outreach is the work of the Holy Spirit.
For more than 25 years, Contemplative Outreach has been dedicated to transmitting the living tradition of the contemplative Christian heritage through the teachings of Father Thomas Keating and through programs and offerings that support the contemplative life for those in ordinary life.
Contemplative Outreach is an evolving community with an expanding vision and deepening practice, serving the changing needs of Christian contemplatives.
We seek to listen to and address the cries of our common suffering and divided world. We seek to listen to the promptings of the Spirit and to respond accordingly. Most importantly, we seek relationship with Ultimate Reality through listening to God’s first language: Silence.