practice them. There are as well many languages people use to communicate,
to share this wealth of human experience. No language is better than
another - and I would say that the same can be said for prayer. Language
and prayers are gifts. Both open us to wider worlds.
Centering prayer has been around a long, long time. Its existence has been
long known and practiced, though it is only fairly recently that it has
become the focus of renewed interest and this renewal has given rise to
books, videos, retreats and the like. Several monks in our own order – Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating and William Menninger have done a lot of work to put Centering Prayer on the map. A priest from my own diocese, Carl Arico, has also been instrumental in spreading the word about centering prayer.
From the time we are very young, we learn that in order to better see or
understand something, we have to be still, be receptive. We learned to stop
and listen when something of interest caught our attention. We learned to
be as still as possible, so as not to burst those big bubbles we knew we
The years passed and we all grew up. The pace of life quickened. And, in a
sense, the race was on. Marriage, jobs, raising children, moving from one
place to another, all these and more forced a refocusing in our lives that
may have caused us to set our sights on some goals while losing sight of
The practice of centering prayer is never really lost amidst all the
shuffles of life. What seems to happen is that we narrow our field of
concentration, so much so that we assume we are doing one thing and looking
at one thing as we do it. For example, a gaze at the beauty of a night sky
filled with stars can and should still us, center us, humble us before this
vast canopy of night. We do not normally think of looking at the stars as
looking at or for God. But to later recognize, in a quiet moment, God as
the source of all that we are and see - including the night - is to recover
our "original" seeing. We are in the mystery of God every second of our
lives, with every breath we take and through every encounter we may have.
There is no getting away from God's involvement with us. Cantering prayer is
a conscious breath, a time consciously set aside to get in touch with who we
are and who God is, and to make a daily habit of it.
We all know that physical exercise is necessary for our health.
Centering prayer gets us back on just as important a track, the one that
leaves room for God.