Each Wednesday from 6:15 PM – 7 PM, a small group of people meet in the Advocate Chapel for a time of contemplative prayer which is open to all – seasoned contemplatives and those who have never tried this way of praying before. Come and dwell with God.
What is Contemplative Prayer?
Contemplative prayer is prayer without words, without images, thoughts, worries, or plans. Without words we seek the deepest center of our consciousness where God awaits us. Throughout our prayer time and to the best of our growing ability, we remain in God’s presence, in silence, lovingly abiding, growing in our awareness of God’s love for us. As Meister Eckhart has said, nothing in the world is as much like God as silence.
When our contemplative prayer group gathers they sit perfectly still, in silence, for 25 minutes. Most of the people who gather practice this kind of prayer at home on a daily basis, though that is not necessary to be able to participate. We come together to support and encourage one another and for the community that comes into being among those who share the silence.
This is not an easy way of prayer. Distractions, words, images, imaginings, plague us all most of the time when we begin. “Centering Prayer” and “Christian Meditation” are two other names for contemplative prayer and represent two traditions (among many others) that teach us how to deal with distractions, temptations, or discouragement in contemplative prayer. Consequently, when our prayer group gathers there is usually a short reading or teaching about Christian Meditation to help inspire and guide us. Then with a little music (from a timing tape) we get ourselves comfortable enough to sit still for 25 minutes, after which the music returns.
Here is a summary of Christian Meditation teaching on how to do meditation (contemplative prayer):
Sit down. Sit still and upright. Close your eyes lightly. Sit relaxed but alert. Silently, interiorly, begin to say a single word. We recommend the prayer-phrase “Maranatha.” (“Lord, come.”) Recite it as four syllables of equal length. Listen to it as you say it, gently, but continuously. Do not think or imagine anything—spiritual or otherwise. Thoughts and images will likely come, but let them pass. Just keep returning your attention—with humility and simplicity—to saying your word in faith, from the beginning to the end of your meditation.
We meditate in this world. Our decision to meditate represents a commitment to participate responsibly even in a world going mad. Meditation trains discernment and limits intolerance. Each time we sit to meditate we carry our own and the world’s baggage into the work of attention. It is a way of loving the world we are part of and contributing to its well-being. Precisely because it is a way of letting go of ourselves meditation helps us to share the burden of humanity.