You are invited to attend an introductory workshop on Centering Prayer in the Parish Hall on Saturday, February 10th from 9:30 AM to 1:00 PM, led by Mark Kutolowski who will be assisted by Lisa Kutolowski and Pastor Tom Kinder. A simple lunch of bread, cheese and soup will be provided for those who can stay after 1:00 PM–feel free to contribute any dishes you would like, but it is not a potluck and you don’t have to bring a thing!
Please extend the invitation to anyone you feel may be interested. The workshop is offered as a free gift open to all, but please email us at email@example.com to sign up. (Update on February 10th—walk-ins are welcome! We have some room, so come even if you have not let us know.)
Centering Prayer is a method of prayer which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence. This was traditionally called contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Centering Prayer facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer – verbal, mental, or affective prayer – into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God.
This introduction to Centering Prayer includes both instruction and group practice in a method that fosters contemplative prayer.
Mark has offered this popular workshop in many other churches. He is a presenter for the organization, Contemplative Outreach, that was founded by Thomas Keating to hold retreats, train presenters and create a spiritual network for this and related contemplative practices around the world. Lisa co-directs Metanoia of Vermont with Mark, is an experienced, trained practitioner of Centering Prayer and has led many retreats on spiritual topics. (You can read more about them at http://www.metanoiavt.com/aboutus/) Tom has been a regular meditator for forty-five years, has led church-based contemplative prayer groups for twenty years and been trained by Contemplative Outreach as a Centering Prayer presenter.
Centering Prayer is similar to other forms of meditation and mindfulness, but with some distinct differences. One of the distinctions it makes is to talk about “heartfulness” in addition to “mindfulness.”
Centering Prayer began in the 1980s as a form based on traditional Christian practices and teachings that go back all the way to the first centuries after Jesus. A large global network has formed of spiritual teachers and lay groups and individuals, and many excellent books have been written as this exciting new manifestation of the ancient Christian contemplative path has evolved.
Thomas Keating writes in his classic introductory text, Open Mind, Open Heart, that “The fundamental purpose of centering prayer and Contemplative Outreach…is to contribute to bringing the knowledge and experience of God’s love into the general consciousness of the human family. Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation…leading, if we consent, to divine union.” (page 1)
In another place, Keating writes, ““If one is truly transformed, one can walk down the street, drink a cup of tea or shake hands with somebody and be pouring divine life into the world…. The essential thing…is the transformation of one’s own consciousness. If that happens, and in the degree that it happens, one’s ordinary actions become effective in communicating the Mystery of Christ to whoever comes into one’s life.” (Mystery of Christ p. 275)
Centering Prayer transforms us, and we then transform the world around us–because transformed people transform people. It is about our individual relationship with God and at the same time a foundation for a communal life of Christ-like action to make the world more like God’s realm of mercy, justice and peace.