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Wednesday, May 2, 2007
The Errors of Centering Prayer

Over the past three decades, thousands of Catholics have fallen into the commonly misunderstood New Age practice known as "Centering Prayer". Centering Prayer actually is not a prayer and it is not even Christian. Originating with Abbot Thomas Keating in St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, centering prayer has spread across the country and attacked the faith of many good-hearted Catholics would unknowingly embrace a pagan practice. Authentic prayer and meditation stem from contact with God. Prayer does not center in one's being as advocates of centering prayer claim but rather prayer is a conversation with God from the center of our souls.

As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Edition), "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God" (CCC 2559). To understand centering prayer, we must first understand what centering prayer is not. Centering prayer is not the raising of one's mind and heart to God principally because the practice seeks for participants to look within themselves. Such practices should not be confused with meditation, contemplation, or even Lectio Divina. Similarly, centering prayer is not an examination of conscience where we look upon our faults through the lens of the Church and seek to remain in the state of sanctifying grace.

On the topic of centering prayer, an article on Our Lady's Warrior states, "Typical of New Age meditative practice, [in centering prayer] the soul becomes the "center", energy replaces grace, God actually becomes a pantheistic energy, and the unleashing of this 'energy' leads to chaos." The article continues, "...And then, mysteriously, an evolution of consciousness." Such statements are based entirely off of the words of Fr. M. Basil Pennington from March 9, 2000, when he states, "When we go to the center of our being and pass through that center into the very center of God we get in immediate touch with this divine energy..."

Both Keating and Pennington are advocates of centering prayer, which is a pagan practice that achieves hypnosis. As confirmed by a psychology professor interviewed in the article "The Danger of Centering Prayer" by Fr. John D. Dreher: "Your question is, is [centering prayer] hypnosis? Sure it is." Centering prayer is a technique where participants repeat a "mantra", a word that is repeated over and over again in order to focus one's will. In true prayer, participants will seek to develop inner peace only through the sanctification of mind, body, and soul, which is achieved by living in a state of grace. In meditation and contemplation, individuals reflect upon the lives of Jesus, Mary, the saints, or other holy things. Above all, we seek to remain in grace and grow in love of God. Centering prayer replaces God with energy.

Centering prayer is not Christian - period. Rather, centering prayer utilizes characteristics from Hinduism such as the medium of Transcendental Meditation (TM). Again quoting from Fr. John D. Dreher's article: "Fr. Pennigton approves a Christian's participation in TM, despite the fact that the introductory ceremony to TM, the Puja, involves worship of a dead Hindu guru and that the mantras given those being initiated are in fact the names of Hindu gods." Thus, praying centering prayer is praying to false gods! Fr. Dreher simply writes, "The rapid spread of centering prayer in the past decade into so many areas which are at the very heart of the Catholic faith is, I believe, part of the Devil's strategy against the Church."

Susan Beckworth in "Centering Prayer and Enneagram are Pagan" states the following as the characteristics of authentic meditation:

1) It is Christ-centered and Trinitarian
2) It will acknowledge the cross of Christ and suffering
3) It will encourage an awareness of sin, a turning away from it, and trust in God's mercy
4) It encourages a sacramental life, especially the Eucharist
5) It encourages a disposition of obedience to Church teaching
6) It is Marian
7) It looks beyond this world to eternity

Since centering prayer fails to meet any of the above criteria, Catholics should simply refuse to participate in centering prayer. In Some Aspects of Christian Meditation by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith led by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican warns against certain practices that are common in centering prayer without using the actual term "centering prayer".

Even if the "mantra" used in centering prayer sounds Christian, its focus is to draw the person within and see God as nothing more than energy. Rather, such repetitive prayer like the Rosary or the Jesus Prayer used in many Eastern Churches are attempts to quiet our soul and empty all that is sinful and fill ourselves with Jesus Christ. Centering prayer is not contemplation or meditation like what is achieved by the Rosary or the Jesus Prayer. Centering prayer is simply pagan. Fr. Keating, founder of the Centering Prayer Movement, states in his books that the goal of centering prayer is to find the "True Self". Fr. Keating further claims that the True Self is the human soul and that the True Self is also God. We know that the soul is created by God and tainted with sin. Various catechisms including the Catechism of the Catholic Church state thus. Claiming that our soul is God is blasphemy! However, centering prayer teaches something that is Hindu and not Christian. Fr. Keating even endorsed the book Meditations on the Tarot: Journey into Christian Hermeticisim, which promotes Tarot Cards, which are mortally sinful to use. He even advocates the usage of the Enneagram, which is nothing more than a demonic device.

Another flaw in centering prayer is the promotion of universalism, the belief that all people have salvation. At Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia, a place where centering prayer is offered, Fr. James Behrens states, "Salvation is a given... no one is left out... all the Bibles could be destroyed tomorrow and it would not make a difference." Again, this is blasphemy. And at the very root of centering prayer is the belief in universalism.

Consequently, I appeal not only to my readers to reject centering prayer but to discuss it with other Catholics and encourage all Catholics to abandon this practice.


The Danger of Centering Prayer by Fr. John D. Dreher
Centering Prayer Catholic Meditation or Occult Meditation?
Some Aspects of Christian Meditation
Centering Prayer and Enneagram are pagan
The New Age Mystic: Different Path, Same God?

Image Source: Hallowed Ground


del_button May 2, 2007 at 10:05 PM
Travis said...

I was just reading about this at a parish somewhere in my area. It sounded "new age" to me so I googled centering prayer and found this.

Which claims centering prayer is contemplative in nature. Is what you speak of, and this site, two different things under the same name?

Just thought it was intresting that I was just questioning this the other day, and run across your blog today. Your input and thoughts would be appreciated.

del_button May 2, 2007 at 10:19 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

Travis, the article states that centering prayer is also known as contemplative prayer. This is wrong. Don't use that website.

Centering prayer remains extremely dangerous to the human soul.

del_button May 3, 2007 at 10:29 AM
4HisChurch said...

Thanks so much for posting this! This is very helpful to me as I struggle to verbalize what *real*, contemplative prayer is to family members who think that "meditation" means this "emptying one's self" that New Age talks about. What would you suggest to someone who would not be immediately attracted to the rosary, for example? I'll check your links too. Thanks again!

del_button May 3, 2007 at 10:56 AM
Jean M. Heimann said...

Excellent post, Matthew!
Thank you for educating others on this.

God bless you!

del_button May 3, 2007 at 12:55 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

To someone that was not immediately attracted to the rosary, I would recommend taking the Rosary slowly. Start by praying one decade at a time. And while meditating on the mystery, I find the greatest source of contemplation in putting myself in the midst of the mystery.

For example, while praying the Crowning with Thorns, I visualize myself as the one crowning our Lord and beating Him. At the Pillar, I visualize myself as whipping him. And at the Cross, I am crucifying Him.

In the Glorious mysteries, I am the one being greeted by the Risen Lord, the one standing below Him as He ascends into Heaven, etc.

Encourage such a person to put themselves in the mystery and contemplate the lives of Jesus and Mary. The Hail Marys and Our Fathers are merely background music.

del_button May 3, 2007 at 1:03 PM
Mark said...

Actually, it sounds concocted even by Eastern standards!

Many meditation techniques in Hinduism and Buddhism were little more than concentration techniques which can and were often applied to many disciplines, both secular and religious.

I think the New Age has a lot to answer for! (Remember, I spent 6 months in a Hindu monastery--they are not so ego-centred as most 'meditation' techniques make out.)

del_button May 3, 2007 at 2:55 PM
4HisChurch said...

Wow, that would be hard to get through--being the one hurting Our Lord--but then, our sins put him on the cross...

del_button May 3, 2007 at 6:22 PM
Esther said...

Thanks for sharing this. A friend recently reminded me that one of the techniques used by a popular priest who gives us missions here, is the centering prayer. That should have been a red flag in itself, but what he taught at the mission made me vow never to attend another of his missions.

del_button May 3, 2007 at 7:26 PM
Anonymous said...

As an actor in a mostly Catholic acting company (it isn't a Catholic acting company, but an acting company with a lot of Catholics, me included), we have used something similiar to the centering prayer, mainly for its secular benefits (helping get us into character), but before we do this we often cross ourselves, then offer up any intentions, and often close with a prayer - usually the Our Father or a prayer made-up by the director of the acting group who typically leads us in prayer. During the middle, we take deeps breaths and try to relax our muscles while whoever is leading us in prayer normally speaks - encouraging us, normally, telling us to relax - there isn't any talk of a universal spirit or hindu gods, though she has used the words "find your center." Is this form of prayer acceptable?

del_button May 3, 2007 at 8:55 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

Anonymous, that prayer is certainly "straddling" the line on whether or not it is acceptable. If Christ is the center, the prayer could be acceptable, but if the cosmos, energy, or anything other than Christ is the center it is wrong.

Instead of chancing it, I would just utilize another simply prayer like a Hail Mary or an Our Father. Maybe just a decade of the Rosary if that is all the time you have. Meditating on the lives of Jesus and Mary is perfectly acceptable. But this prayer may be unacceptable.

del_button May 4, 2007 at 5:28 AM
Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Very dangerous. i had a psychotherapist into Keating's centering prayer & he himself had buddhist leanings..all very damaging to someone if their faith was shaky..fortunately i kept close to my spiritual directors & have finished the therapy..the therapist was a lovely man..but in the end i had to be firm & say Keating was not Catholic & all religions are not equal. i pray for this guy's conversion to the true faith daily.

Thanks for drawing attention to this important aberration..

del_button May 4, 2007 at 10:35 AM
Deo Juvante said...

A Carmelite priest once taught me this...

del_button May 5, 2007 at 9:09 PM
Adoro te Devote said...

Thanks for this post. I have often seen people confuse centering prayer with contemplative prayer. They are simply not the same.

Only God can initiate the gift of infused prayer. Period.

True contemplative prayer involves some kind of union with God, and we cannot initiate that but through cooperation with God's grace, which alone is a gift.

Centering prayer askes the person to open oneself up to ...whatever. That "whatever" may be demonic.

Those few moments where I have experienced "kisses from God" were actually preceeded by a complete inability to pray, an entreaty to forgive me my inability to pray, and then typically cooperation with a prayer I did not want to pray but did out of obedience. (Sorry can't say more than that).

To be clear, I have not experienced true contemplative prayer, but I have experienced enough to know that the graces recieved could not have possibly been initiated by me. They happened too suddenly, without "concentration" of any sort. It was ALL God.

To those who ask about Centering Prayer, I usually direct to Fr. Dubay's books, to start with "Prayer Primer" and then "Fire Within".

I also recommend St. Therese of Lisieux's "Story of a Soul."

Again, thanks for this.

del_button May 11, 2007 at 5:34 PM
viking said...

an article you might like

del_button June 13, 2007 at 2:55 AM
Anonymous said...

Centering prayer helped set me free from strong addiction when nothing else seemed to work.It is based on "The Cloud Of Unknowing", which influenced St. Teresa, and St. John of the cross.I recommend Fr. T. Keating's books.

del_button February 12, 2008 at 3:40 PM
Anonymous said...

As an escapee from the various outgrowths of the Human Potental Movement, I feel reasonably confident in stating that 'centering prayer' is just another deceptive Luciferian attack upon the Church.

del_button April 28, 2008 at 7:52 PM
just a sheep said...

To Anonymous: You said:
"Centering prayer helped set me free from strong addiction when nothing else seemed to work.It is based on "The Cloud Of Unknowing", which influenced St. Teresa, and St. John of the cross.I recommend Fr. T. Keating's books."
Question: Why aren't you praising Jesus or God instead of praising centering prayer and Fr. T. Keating's books? You are in grave error, because it will not lead you into love of God or love of people, but only love of self.
Just a sheep--a happy little Catholic one!

del_button June 19, 2008 at 12:55 PM
Richard said...

Doesn't it explicitly state somewhere in the bible that repetitive prayer is unacceptable to God? If you know where it says this, please let me know I would like to share it with others my church who practice centering prayer religiously. You may reach me at

del_button August 21, 2008 at 10:17 PM
Di said...

I have been doing Centering Prayer for 20 years. I purchased the taped series by Fr. Basil Pennington and loved it. I also do my daily rosaries, chaplets, noveneas, scripture, and Catholic music. When I'm in the midst of high anxiety and worry, the Centering Prayer seems to balance me out. Better then Prozac!


del_button September 5, 2008 at 11:09 AM
Anonymous said...

I had no idea people were finding fault with centering prayer. I felt like God led me to this prayer 8 years ago and I have felt closer to God ever since. I feel it helps me quiet myself from my own distractions and helps me to be more attentive to God in my life. "Be still and know that I am God" seems to be the basis for this prayer. I was taught that it is a way to open oneself up to Contemplative Prayer---but whether God gives us that state or not is up to him---we just give him the time and space to do so if it is his will. By the way--the word I use when centering is "Jesus".

del_button September 10, 2008 at 7:12 PM
Anonymous said...

Is this what passes for rational argument in the Catholic Church these days? It seems that all one has to do is call a practice "New Age" (an empty term if there ever was one)and the faithful and supposed to turn away no questions asked.

Your description of contemplative prayer is not accurate and you provide no evidence of anyone becoming less Christian in thought or deed through it's practice.

del_button September 10, 2008 at 7:42 PM
Anonymous said...

Matthew 6:7

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

del_button October 5, 2008 at 3:33 AM
Simon Whitney said...

People are saying that Centering Prayer has helped them in some way or another. That is probably true because it can calm the mind which usually races away with all sorts of thoughts and especially as we try and be quiet in order to pray. When Jesus was asked by the disciples to teach them to pray the first thing he suggested was that we go into our romm and shut the door. That is effectively what Centering Prayer (or any method of guieting the mind) will do. The problem comes with describing the rest of it as prayer.

I have been a fan of the Cloud of Unknowing for many years - long before I had even heard of Centering Prayer. I cannot understand how anyone can equate Centering Prayer with the Cloud. And there is a simple test - read it for yourself. It is not long and well worth taking the time.

I would also suggest that anyone looking at Centering Prayer also read Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle (again, not too long) and compare what it says to what the authors of Centering Prayer say.

It seems to me that there is a world of difference between these ancient authors and the authors of Centering Prayer.

As St Paul said: Test everything, hold on to the good.

del_button November 7, 2008 at 2:06 PM
Anonymous said...

Rather than relying on sources such as Fr. Dryer and other interpretations of scripture one (if Catholic) would be advised to follow the teachings of the Church is it's official magisterium.


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation;

The majority of the "great religions" which have sought union with God in prayer have also pointed out ways to achieve it. Just as "the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions, neither should these ways be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian. On the contrary, one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured.
The spiritual authors have adopted those elements which make recollection in prayer easier, at the same time recognizing their relative value: they are useful if reformulated in accordance with the aim of Christian prayer. For example, the Christian fast signifies, above all, an exercise of penitence and sacrifice; but, already for the Fathers, it also had the aim of rendering man more open to the encounter with God and making a Christian more capable of self-dominion and at the same time more attentive to those in need.
That does not mean that genuine practices of meditation which come from the Christian East and from the great non-Christian religions, which prove attractive to the man of today who is divided and disoriented, cannot constitute a suitable means of helping the person who prays to come before God with an interior peace, even in the midst of external pressures.
The Supreme Pontiff, John Paul II, in an audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, gave his approval to this letter, drawn up in a plenary session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.
At Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, October 15, 1989, the Feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus.
Joseph Card. Ratzinger Prefect
1. The expression "eastern methods" is used to refer to methods which are inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism, such as "Zen," "Transcendental Meditation" or "Yoga." Thus it indicates methods of meditation of the non-Christian Far East which today are not infrequently adopted by some Christians also in their meditation.

del_button February 13, 2009 at 6:18 PM
Anonymous said...

A good Catholic will judge centering prayer on the basis of tradition, scripture, and reality, i.e., the fruits of the practice--not on the basis of ignorance.

I've incorporated centering prayer to follow lectio divina, as Fr. Thomas Keating has always recommended. Centering prayer does not use a mantra--there is not mindless repetition of a word or a phrase. Rather, when thoughts and emotions interfere with our prayer we very gently use a word that we have selected to sybolize our attention to and love of Jesus, the reason for and purpose of our prayer.

del_button October 9, 2009 at 2:50 PM
Anonymous said...

I have been blessed with the practice of Centering Prayer for 3 years. It is, for me, very simply a time in my day when I am whole-heartedly resting in God. I am agreeing to open my heart and my mind to what God wants me to do, feel, know. There is no repeated mantra, we don't do that. The sacred word is only a tool that some use, though many outgrow the use of the sacred word altogether after experiencing this prayer. We use it simply to remind ourselves, when thoughts bombard us and threaten to distract us from our purpose of resting in God, to renew our intention to be with God. That's all, very gently to remind us to return to openness. Don't be afraid. I don't know if this is "New Age" (whatever that is) or not, but I don't care. It has made me feel closer to the Lord Jesus than any other practice I have ever experienced. Isn't this exactly what Jesus asked of his disciples? He didn't hand anybody a rosary. Isn't this the practice of the Desert Mothers and Fathers, all early Catholics? Not only do I feel closer to God, I am a more peaceful person and am much better able to help those around me who ask for my help. I am slower to anger. I am more grateful. I am more patient. I am more loving. I see more beauty in the world and in my fellow man. I see more of God's grace in everything. I think far less about myself and much more about others. I am freer from worrying about my own life and more active in helping those around me. Be wary of those who would rob you of this beautiful, simple practice.

del_button October 22, 2009 at 12:54 AM
Tony said...

I am starting RCIA classes next week at the local Catholic church in my town. The writings of Thomas Keating and the practice of centering prayer has given me a relationship with Christ and hopefully to the Catholic church. But the ignorance and false piety on the discussion board has been a real turnoff. I pray that many of you will embrace the full spirit of Vatican II and be open to the diverse paths that bring a person to a relationship with Christ. After all the term Catholic does mean "Universal"

del_button December 1, 2009 at 8:21 AM
Anonymous said...

God sent me Jesus. God sent me Seminarian Matthew. God sent me Thomas Keating.

del_button December 3, 2009 at 11:16 PM
Faith said...

Much of the criticism of Centering Pryer comes from people who are misinformed. Centering Prayer does not use a mantra. It uses a sacred word such as'Jesus' to gentle draw the pray-er back to being still in the presence of God. The sacred word is not repeated continuously, but used only gently to bring the person back to being still in God's presence. [Psalm 46] This prayer form is based on 'The Cloud of Unknowing' written by an anonymous 14th century catholic priest in England. People who practice centering prayer commonly find that by letting go of their own agendas and surrendering themselves totally to God, their trust in God is increased and their faith deepened. Their treasuring of the sacred mystery in the Mass is greatly deepened. An honest Catholic has nothing to fear from Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is a method which helps the faithful 'rest in God' in the fourth station of lectio divina.
May God bless all who seek Him.

del_button January 5, 2010 at 10:48 AM
Anonymous said...

Another misinformed post on Centering Prayer. This should help you discern fact from the information provided above, directly from the Centering Prayer Contemplative Outreach website:

Additionally, the word 'mantra' has been, for some reason, exclusively connected to Eastern Meditation (and let's not forget where Catholicism obtains much of its roots), but simply means, "a commonly repeated word or phrase": Therefore, even saying the rosary would be a mantra. Centering Prayer is silently resting in God, through Christ, as is reinforced by Father Thomas Merton's suggestion of the mantra, "Maranatha", translates to "Come, Lord Jesus. Additionally, Centering Prayer sessions use a 'welcoming prayer' beseaching the presence of Divine, and also a 'closing prayer'.

del_button January 5, 2010 at 11:11 AM
Matthew said...

The article on the website of the Centering Prayer Contemplative Outreach website is biased. What group would ever "verbally bash" their product or service?

You need objective information like that which I have provided.

del_button January 18, 2010 at 9:32 PM
Anonymous said...

I've been practicing contemplative (centering) prayer for years and have gone to lengthy workshops on the practice.
It is a wonderful practice. People who say it's dangerous are operating from childish superstition and have no Idea what this Christ-centered practice is about.

del_button April 18, 2010 at 2:15 AM
Anonymous said...

To criticize Fr. Thomas Keating for endorsing Meditations on the Tarot is a little strange. After all, the afterword to that book was written by none other than Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Pope John Paul II is know to have had a copy of it. Were they similarly unorthodox? (I suppose someone who attends SSPX churches might think so!)

del_button May 9, 2010 at 7:41 PM
Anonymous said...

God loves me and I love God. Centering Prayer, the Sacraments, the Rosary, Mass, and the lives of Saints, all help me to deepen my relationship with Christ and to grow in love with my Creator and all of His creation. The Cross is essential to it all. I remain a faithful Catholic. I remain a Centering Prayer practitioner. That is all I have to say. God bless you.

del_button June 1, 2010 at 4:53 PM
Rodrigo said...

As a faithful Catholic, I would not recommend the practice of Centering Prayer. People are unaware that they are being exposed to Hinduism through this prayer technique. I agree with the Pope when he said this type of prayer "makes no sense in Christianity." As Christians, we are not to practice non-Christian religions or mix them in with ours (syncretism). When we practice syncretism, the line between truth and error becomes blurred. The pleasant experiences that result from these techniques can gradually start to replace the sacraments, and a person can lose sight of God as Creator and Savior.

In Cardinal Ratzinger's booklet, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation, he quotes the Pope. On p. 34, footnote 12, he writes "Pope John Paul II has pointed out to the whole Church the example and doctrine of St. Teresa of Avila who in her life had to reject the temptation of certain methods which proposed a leaving aside of the humanity of Christ in favor of a vague self-immersion in the abyss of divinity. In a homily given on November 1, 1982, he said that the call of St. Teresa of Jesus advocating a prayer completely centered on Christ "is valid even in our day, against some methods of prayer which are not inspired by the gospel and which in practice tend to set Christ aside in preference for a mental void which makes no sense in Christianity. Any method of prayer is valid insofar as it is inspired by Christ and leads to Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life" [(cf. John 14:6). See Homilia Abulae habita in honorem Sanctae Teresiae: AAS 75 (1983) 256-257].

Does Fr. Keating Give a Strange Definition of the Eucharist?

Yes. In Open Mind, Open Heart, he says, on p.128, "The Eucharist is the celebration of life: the coming together of all the material elements of the cosmos, their emergence to consciousness in human persons and the transformation of human consciousness into Divine consciousness. It is the manifestation of the Divine in and through the Christian community. We receive the Eucharist in order to become the Eucharist." As we know, the Eucharist in not composed of all of the elements of the universe. The New Agers believe that all is one and all is god. In our Catholic faith, the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the greatest of the sacraments. We need to reflect on Hebrews 13:9, "Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teaching."

The Lord loves the Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, and all people. However, he wants us, as Christians, to look for opportunities to bring them to the True Faith. If we want to "center," we can center our lives on Jesus Christ. If we want to pray, we can think about him during our prayer time. We can meditate on the Passion, practice virtues, and ask him to take us up into authentic contemplation one day if he so desires. We can remind others that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam !

del_button June 1, 2010 at 5:14 PM
Sashi Moon said...

Wow! Amen. I could have not said that better myself Rodrigo. Nice!

A Protestant

del_button June 29, 2010 at 4:47 PM
Anonymous said...

I am glad there are some on this forum who will vouch for the fact that centering prayer can be a legitimately Christ-centered method of prayer. Surely there are some who have abused its practice by removing Christ from it (at which point it can no longer truly be called Christian prayer), and others who have rejected it out of hand without truly reading about its foundations and understanding its unique integrity. Anybody who reads the foundational works concerning centering prayer (paritularly as expressed by Keating) will understand that it is a practice deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition.

Read Fr. Keating's books on centering prayer and discern for yourself instead of taking this blogger's word for it. The books are out there for anybody to take up and study.

del_button November 18, 2010 at 10:01 AM
Anonymous said...

If we meditate on the Blessed Sacrament, we can be United with Our Lord in His Real Presence
How much closer can we come to God, but by His only Son Jesus Christ and Our Blessed Mother, who is always close to Her Son.

18th November,2010.

del_button November 18, 2010 at 12:53 PM
Sashi Moon said...

John 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

del_button December 5, 2010 at 10:30 PM
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
del_button December 5, 2010 at 11:33 PM
Sashi Moon said...

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

15Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

del_button February 18, 2011 at 1:44 AM
Anonymous said...

Take a good look at what the fruits are. If because of Centering Prayer, the person becomes patient, kind, accepts all and does not need to eliminate anybody just because they do not think, worship or act as they do, leads a holy life, a greater sense of the God in others that he can reach out to help the worst of mankind, then I think its a good thing. I'll rather have that than a Catholic who thinks that any effort to find holiness and salvation outside of his Church is demonic. That's how the Inquisition started you know ...

del_button April 23, 2011 at 11:21 PM
William said...

Are we ruling out St John of the Cross and St Theresa or the Rosary. Something can be learned from both sides of the argument.

del_button July 31, 2011 at 8:25 AM
Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with the other anonymous who wrote above (2-18-11). All of this negative hoopla about Centering Prayer is nothing more than an inquisition staged by the Catholic right-wing who are afraid of everything and have all sorts of paranoid Catholic Identity /membership tests everyone is supposed to pass. They're projecting their own fearful, paranoid, split-off darkness on to others who are walking authentic paths. They're never happy unless someone else is "bad", "evil", etc. Life makes no sense to them unless they're in a position to teach/preach/reject and generally act snobby to everyone else who is the least bit different from them. "Woe to you pharisees who place a hard burden on the backs of others..."

del_button July 31, 2011 at 2:10 PM
Matthew said...

Woe to you anonymous and those who pervert Holy Religion with protestantism. Your protestant centering prayer has no part in Catholic Theology and never will.

del_button April 29, 2012 at 8:54 PM
Anonymous said...

Chris said...

Centering prayer is Transendental Meditaion
dressed up in a Christian dress. Contemplative prayer is a gift from God not something we can make happen by some technique. We don't control God. We shouldn't be seeking experiences. We should enter His gates with thanksgiving in our hearts. We should enter His courts with praise.
We should be repenting of our sins and living lives totally surrendered to Him. We should be seeking the God of consolation not the consolation of God. This is a counterfeit mysticism. We don't need centering prayer, we need a New Pentecost. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit. This is biblical, not centering prayer.
What I don't understand is why TM is being advertised on this website as a good thing. But centering prayer is being criticized? They are basically the same thing.

del_button July 28, 2012 at 2:25 AM
Anonymous said...

Centering prayer is just that - prayer.

del_button August 4, 2012 at 9:35 AM
Anonymous said...

I came across this article while reading about centering prayer online. I'm sure others have already said this, but I want to add my voice to the chorus: this article betrays a serious misunderstanding of the essential practice that makes up this form of prayer. It is certainly not a retreat into one's self. If it's done this way, everything you've said is quite correct, and it amounts to nothing but quietistic self-hypnosis. But this is not how it is meant to be done.

On the contrary, centering prayer is the practice of offering a pure love to God. One sits quietly, allowing all distractions, whether external or inside one's own mind (emotions, thoughts, images, etc.), to pass without examination, constantly returning to a simple resting in the love of God. This is what St. John of the Cross describes in his poem "The Dark Night of the Soul": I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies." Thus, when properly practiced, centering prayer is not a focus on the self but on God, not a diving into one's self but a going out from one's self.

You've taken the ideas of "energy" in centering prayer out of context and made them seem like new age notions. God is love, and love is energetic-- it is active, it seeks out its beloved with passion. So there is often a feeling of an intense energy in the encounter of God with a human soul. This is all that is meant, and yet you accuse us of reducing God to an inert energy field. Nothing in the literature produced by these men implies or states that God is that energy. All it says is that it often attends union with Him. Father Keating also points out that we may not feel that energy at all during a period of centering prayer, and that we should not consider our prayer a failure because of it. That's because the point of the prayer is to practice loving God and God alone, not for what He has done but for Himself as He is. Whether or not we feel God's presence is incidental to this practice, and we certainly should not assume that every weird "energy" we feel is God. It could just be that-- some weird "energy". Discerning between true and false experience is vital to this practice, and it is best that, whatever sort of experience you think you may have had, like Mary, you keep these things in your heart until you are more experienced in discernment. A tree is known by its fruit.

If we go into centering prayer with a greed for mystical experience, we will indeed damage our psyche and our soul, but the danger here is no greater than any kind of spiritual greed. I think you've thrown the baby out with the bathwater here. If practicing love of God is not Catholic, I'm not sure what is.

del_button October 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM
Anonymous said...

There are many ways that God gives us to get closer to HIM. Using centering prayer to rest in God's love is good. God calls us to be a better person and follow his teachings, if one needs to sit and be quiet and listen as their way to get closer to HIM, then what is wrong with this? We will be judged by God individually and how we use this prayer will be judged by him not anyone else.

del_button July 20, 2013 at 1:09 PM
Anonymous said...

Blessings to you, my friend!

del_button December 1, 2015 at 7:42 AM
Tom Burton said...

Amen. I can't see how quieting the mind or straight up meditating (bad word?) can't hurt a personal relationship with God.

del_button February 13, 2016 at 6:32 AM
John Tan said...

Greetings from Singapore.

His blessings on us all.

I'm into my 6th year of Centering Prayer. It is what I came across (accidentally) when searching for how to do the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer was recommended by a Franciscan priest who was my confessor when I returned to the Church after 43 years.
I had problems with the Jesus Prayer at that time and found Centering Prayer what I could relate to, based on Fr Keating's Open Mind, open Heart. I have read most of his books, some over and over, watched his most of videos and listened to his CDs, and sharing them with my wife, son and a couple of friends.(After 5 years of Centering, I understand how the Jesus Prayer can be 'ceaseless prayer'.) And if ceaseless prayer is relating intimately with and being in His incredibly loving presence, then Centering Prayer has brought me into a disposition properly preparing me to be available when in His mercy he deigns to give me the grace of contemplative prayer. And 'speak' to me if and when He wills, in the most unexpected ways and mundane events in everyday life.
I will not argue with anyone who condemns or is critical of Centering Prayer.

I find it leads me to authentic Catholicism based on the Gospel, based on the Indwelling Trinity, accepting our Lord's invitation to come to Him if we labor and are heavy-laden and seek rest in Him...and learn of Him. In His Spirit who intercedes for us because we do not know how to pray, we consent to God's presence and action within us as the Holy Trinity repossesses our bodies to be his temples, and in doing so, replaces everything to do with our (self-centered) selves, however holy we might consider them to be, with His will. I believe that the word 'center' was not only used by Thomas Merton, but ... yes, St John of the Cross. I believe our center is none other than our self-emptying Savior, who did not consider his divine prerogative as God as something to cling to and came down to identify with humans and accepted even death, death on the cross (God giving himself away entirely for us in Christ to the point of, so to speak, dying for us.)

My motive for writing is to share my personal experience with you. (By the fruits do we judge a tree.)

It is also to connect with those who come to this blog and find themselves discouraged by some of the comments they may read here.
If we are like-minded and spirited, please do not be discouraged.
Remember the first question God asked in the Garden is 'Where are you?'

This question is one that I take to heart. At every stage of where I have been, I discover, through centering, the purpose He has in my on-going conversion, exposing me to the most unexpected situations which, when taken all in all, delineate the path of my spiritual journey to Him.
I am now undergoing my 4th cycle of chemotherapy and never cease to be amazed how lovingly He care for me in the ordinary moments of dealing with the chemo side effects. (I never thought I could come out of the triple op alive ... being 76 years old, a former diabetic -- diabetes was the way He gave me a kick in the behind in 2009 to make me return to the Church and having had a major colon op last year.

I ramble. One of the chemo side effects ... maybe.

My appeal to all is, let us not divide with differences. Let us gather as He has and does.

In His love, all of us always.


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