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I have looked at the centering prayer topics on the archives of this site and have discussed it with people on CAF (to the extent that you can as it's apparently a banned topic but what isn't there).  I might be preaching to the choir but I still can't get it out of my head that the history of CP that the practitioners talk about is fabricated.  I always heard that the monks who came up with this were dabbling in eastern philosophy and meditation and felt that CP was a great way of getting all of the young people back into the church. From there they say it has a Christian history and they reference the Cloud of Unknowing, which I don't know about you but it bothers me that they don't know who wrote it so no I have not read it. 

Sooooo, just recently, a gentleman said that it was true the monks were practicing centering prayer and were doing so from ancient Christian practices when asked by the Pope how to solve the problem of younger people leaving the church for eastern tradition they held up CP as the answer.

It just sounds like bull. If it was so great why were you sitting on it? It just so happens that everyone is jumping ship for Buddhism and you pull CP out of your pocket like it's been there all along? It doesn't read as truth, at least to me.

One of the other things that gets to me, I admit this is very subjective, is even when having a level headed discussion with one of it's adherents they seem to get very touchy about it. Like it's absolutely beyond all reproach or discussion. It's quite a turnoff.

Years ago I practiced Daoist meditation, it is VERY similar imho. While I wouldn't go back to it, I would have a lot more respect for CP, myself, if they had just come clean from the beginning about it.

Does anyone here have an opinion that they could base on fact that it actually has a Christian origin? Or vice versa?  They keep bringing up Keating and Pennington but they just seem like New Age priests and not very convincing. Please correct me if necessary.
Oh please, if one could watch Mother Angelica's "I am Tired of You Liberals in America" video, she condemns "Centering Prayer". That says a lot, in my honest opinion.
"Centering prayer" is one of those phrases that can mean a range of things from good to bad: the thing is, the good things have other names in the Christian tradition, so there's no reason to use the phrase in those cases.  It can be the same as contemplative prayer or even hesychasm (the latter of which should itself not be taken up lightly), but it can also be more like quietism or Zen Buddhism which are foreign and/or antithetical to the faith.  This is why arguments about it tend to go around in circles, because two people can be using the term in very different ways.

So yeah, one could argue it has a long history in our tradition, just under different names--but if that's the case, why use this new terminology? 



(05-02-2016, 02:21 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: [ -> ]So yeah, one could argue it has a long history in our tradition, just under different names--but if that's the case, why use this new terminology?

I wonder if the source of confusion is this? It seems like what most people associate with CP is Quietism, or Daoist meditation. When I hear CP this is what I usually relate it to.

I do agree with Neopelagianus about Mother Angelica. While my biggest problem is what I perceive as subterfuge, I do think it attracts a particular type of Catholic and usually it's a type I'm not that comfortable around.
(05-02-2016, 04:25 PM)AugustineNYC Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-02-2016, 02:21 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: [ -> ]So yeah, one could argue it has a long history in our tradition, just under different names--but if that's the case, why use this new terminology?

I wonder if the source of confusion is this? It seems like what most people associate with CP is Quietism, or Daoist meditation. When I hear CP this is what I usually relate it to.

I do agree with Neopelagianus about Mother Angelica. While my biggest problem is what I perceive as subterfuge, I do think it attracts a particular type of Catholic and usually it's a type I'm not that comfortable around.

Yeah, I don't like the subterfuge aspect either and when I hear it, it definitely conjures up the bad.  What's weird is that there is enough Catholic meditation and prayer techniques to fill that interest, that I don't see the need to go looking elsewhere to attract people.  I guess it is because some of these things are gifts or more advanced and people want a quicker fix.  See for example the Prayer of Quiet (which is different than quietism):

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12608b.htm
John Main OSB had a decent form of it using a prayer word "Maranatha", but why is this necessary when we have things like the Jesus Prayer?

Personally I still occasionally sit and watch my breathing, usually to the rhythm of the Jesus Prayer,I mean, after all, I was a committed Buddhist for years and still find that there are many insights and good things in mindful awareness and anchoring in something like the breath or a word. 

That being said stay away from Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington. They are kind of bizarre, almost not even Christian based on some of the stuff I've read. 

Part of the reason for stuff like Centering Prayer and Christian Meditation came about because after Vatican II devotional life collapsed in the Church and many people started looking to Hinduism and Buddhism. There was a cross pollenization and syncretism.




(05-02-2016, 01:16 PM)AugustineNYC Wrote: [ -> ]Does anyone here have an opinion that they could base on fact that it actually has a Christian origin? Or vice versa?  They keep bringing up Keating and Pennington but they just seem like New Age priests and not very convincing. Please correct me if necessary.

It is claimed that CP is derived from the 14th century classic "The Cloud of Unknowing".  "The Cloud" is definitely an orthodox source if indeed this is where CP comes from.  See:  http://www.contemplativeprayer.net

As an aside, I should have known better, but several months ago curiosity got the better of me and I attended a day-long workshop on CP held in a Novus Ordo parish.  The day-long workshop was centered on watching video(s) of Fr. Richard Rohr, who the leader of the group thought was a spiritual powerhouse.  For those not familiar with this individual, a quick Google search should tell you all you need to know.  I won't detract from him here.  I got what I deserved.  I had no business going to that meeting.  Lesson learned.  My first and last day of CP was the same day.

However, the church does have many rich sources of meditation and mystical teaching - think John of the Cross, Teresa of Avilla, Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, "The Cloud of Unknowing" etc.

I found the book "Into the Silent land" by Martin Laird to helpful to me in understanding the Christian tradition of meditation.  Laird is a NO Augustinian, but he uses all (from what I can tell) pre VII sources in his book.  This won't help you with CP per se, but it does make the case that meditation in various forms has existed in the church since the dos of the Desert Fathers. 
(05-02-2016, 07:24 PM)piusx1914 Wrote: [ -> ]
(05-02-2016, 01:16 PM)AugustineNYC Wrote: [ -> ]Does anyone here have an opinion that they could base on fact that it actually has a Christian origin? Or vice versa?  They keep bringing up Keating and Pennington but they just seem like New Age priests and not very convincing. Please correct me if necessary.

It is claimed that CP is derived from the 14th century classic "The Cloud of Unknowing".  "The Cloud" is definitely an orthodox source if indeed this is where CP comes from.  See:  http://www.contemplativeprayer.net

As an aside, I should have known better, but several months ago curiosity got the better of me and I attended a day-long workshop on CP held in a Novus Ordo parish.  The day-long workshop was centered on watching video(s) of Fr. Richard Rohr, who the leader of the group thought was a spiritual powerhouse.  For those not familiar with this individual, a quick Google search should tell you all you need to know.  I won't detract from him here.  I got what I deserved.  I had no business going to that meeting.  Lesson learned.  My first and last day of CP was the same day.

However, the church does have many rich sources of meditation and mystical teaching - think John of the Cross, Teresa of Avilla, Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, "The Cloud of Unknowing" etc.

I found the book "Into the Silent land" by Martin Laird to helpful to me in understanding the Christian tradition of meditation.  Laird is a NO Augustinian, but he uses all (from what I can tell) pre VII sources in his book.  This won't help you with CP per se, but it does make the case that meditation in various forms has existed in the church since the dos of the Desert Fathers.

I will check out the Laird book. Right now I'm reading Pray Primer and possibly going right into Fire Within, both by Fr. Dubay.  I have heard about the Cloud of Unknowing but I have one issue with might actually be nothing: no one knows who wrote it. Have you read it? Does the unknown authorship bother you?

I too went to a cantering prayer workshop at a NO parish. The Deacons, there were two, were very good and they did not strike me as being intrinsically heretical. I think I have been very blessed or maybe just lucky in my NO parish dealings actually so who knows.
Nah.

I'm an OCDS, and the Order frowns on "centering prayer". When asked why, my local Provincial summed it up quite nicely: "Because it's not Catholic".


CP isn't prayer. It's eastern style meditation. Seriously, let's just call it what it is and be done with it.

It's also absolutely unnecessary. People who need more oomph out of their prayer lives should devote more time to studying St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, instead of dragging in foreign elements.
(05-03-2016, 10:57 AM)AugustineNYC Wrote: [ -> ]I have heard about the Cloud of Unknowing but I have one issue with might actually be nothing: no one knows who wrote it. Have you read it? Does the unknown authorship bother you?

I've listened to the audio version from audible.com on my iPhone.  I just took it for what it is and didn't really think much about the unknown authorship.  If it was a more modern work I would have been more discriminating, but I figured the 14 century was before the Protestant revolt so I didn't concern myself with it.
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