Centering Prayer Workshops, April 6, 2019

The Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle will be sponsoring two workshops led by Mark Kutolowski on Saturday, April 6, 2019, with a potluck lunch in between.  They will be held in the Parish Hall of the United Church of Straffod, Vermont.  The first workshop is an “Introduction to Centering Prayer” from 9:00 AM to noon, a combination of instruction and practice designed to provide beginners with the training needed to begin a regular practice.  It will also be an excellent refresher for people who are experienced.

The second workshop is “The Way of Christ and the Contemplative Journey” from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, open only to people with an established Centering Prayer practice.  It will be an opportunity to explore the deeper spiritual foundations of Centering Prayer in the teachings and life template of Jesus, as well as how Centering Prayer supports the transformation of the whole human person, known as ‘divinization’ in Christian mystical theology. We will explore the ways in which continued Centering Prayer practice can support the healing of the human condition, and the possibility of spiritual liberation in union with Christ. This session will include practical guidance on what conditions and experiences may occur in the heart and psyche with continued fidelity to the Centering Prayer practice.

You may come to the potluck lunch from noon to 1:00 PM whether you are attending the morning or afternoon workshop.

Please extend the invitation to anyone you feel may be interested in these workshops.  They are offered free of charge but donations are welcome.

Please email us at unitedchurchofstrafford@gmail.com to reserve your space.

Here is a flyer for the Introductory Workshop. Please post it or forward it to friends: Mark Retreat Flyer 4-6-19

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.

Mark has offered the popular Introductory 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.

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.

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