Contemplative practices for laypeople?
#1
Hi there, as a newly-returning Catholic, I am looking to enrich my prayer life and my relationship with God.
I'm very interested in seeking out some sort of more contemplative practice in addition to regular Mass attendance and praying the rosary. I have read about centering prayer but there seem to be enough questions about its validity that I plan to stay away from it. I figured this board would be a good place to seek out recommendations for books which outline a type of non-problematic contemplative practice which I could make a part of my life.
Sometimes I feel a little dense because when I peruse books by doctors of the Church, I have a little trouble figuring out how to put their recommended methods into practice, so I'm hoping to find sources which will really break it down for me into steps which, while they may not be easy to do on a regular basis, will be easy to understand and attempt to put into practice.
Thanks for any help.
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#2
Check out the book The Way of a Pilgrim.  It's about prayer of the heart/the Jesus Prayer, which is an amazing for of contemplative  prayer.

The book is quite short and a pretty quick read, introducing the Jesus Prayer through the life of a pilgrim who comes in contact with it during his travels.

Also, if more liturgical prayer is something you're interested in, then check out the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary - it's great and doesn't take long at all to prayer (most of the hours don't even take 10 minutes to pray).

Godspeed in your search for guidance!  :pray:
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#3
I can also recommend The Way of a Pilgrim. It's a Russian book, written from n Eastern Orthodox perspective, so its quite a different approach to the Christian interior life compared to what one usually finds in Western texts. It's extremely beautiful and edifying.

I'm also interested in this stuff, so I'll keep lurking in this thread to see what other people suggest.
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#4
When looking at things in more depth, check-out the Philokalia and the Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Raskolnikov:  Read the Philokalia!  :)
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#5
What about the Imitation of Christ? Would that be workable for a married layperson?
And what about St. Theresa of Avila? Or St. Ignatius?
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#6
(05-17-2011, 06:47 PM)Fraxinus Wrote: What about the Imitation of Christ? Would that be workable for a married layperson?
And what about St. Theresa of Avila? Or St. Ignatius?

All of that would - even if it's not meant for a layperson the reason behind it all is the same.

Just remember to start simple and go slowly.  :)
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#7
(05-17-2011, 03:20 PM)3Sanctus Wrote: When looking at things in more depth, check-out the Philokalia and the Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Raskolnikov:  Read the Philokalia!   :)

I certainly plan to. When I was traveling in New Zealand, someone I stayed with early in my trip let me borrow a few volumes of the Philokalia. I lugged them around in my backpack for weeks, and returned them when I passed through his town the second time, but I only read small sections. I really should have read more of it, especially since I spent many hours sitting idly along country roads trying to hitchhike.
Oh well. I'll get a copy for myself eventually. For now I make do with the sections in The Way of a Pilgrim. :)

I've heard many good things about The Ladder of Divine Ascent, I definately need to get a copy of that.

Another good contemplative practice came to mind which I thought might be worth mentioning: Lectio Divina, the contemplative and prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture. Although the Catholic Faith is much bigger than 'just' the books of the Biblical Canon, there is an amazing lot of inspirational, profound, and truly 'awesome' material for contemplation and reflection just within the Gospels... particularly the Gospel of St John.
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#8
I have a number of helpful books in pdf form that I will upload, including the ladder of divine ascent, the philokalia, the cloud of unknowing, unseen warfare, the way of ascetics, and theosis.

I don't know what centering prayer is, apart from what I read just now on wikipedia. The article said it has its roots in the Desert Fathers, the cloud of unknowing, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila; if we have to leave these sources aside because "centering prayer is invalid", well, good luck finding a contemplative who's valid.

Ladder of Divine Ascent
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#9
(05-26-2011, 02:57 PM)Graham Wrote: I don't know what centering prayer is, apart from what I read just now on wikipedia. The article said it has its roots in the Desert Fathers, the cloud of unknowing, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila; if we have to leave these sources aside because "centering prayer is invalid", well, good luck finding a contemplative who's valid.

I don't think there is a problem with these historical sources of centering prayer but rather with its modern day practitioners.
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#10
The Cloud of Unknowing
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