“Be much alone with God, and take time to get thoroughly acquainted. Converse over everything with Him. Unburden yourself wholly –every thought, feeling, wish, plan, doubt– to Him…He wants not merely to be on good terms with you, but to be intimate.”
We have reached another threshold; the one that invites us in to even deeper intimacy with God. This threshold has opened in front of us as we began to regard and dismantle the small self and relax into God more. We know now; because we have found out through our exploring, that the world does not hold the answers that we are seeking, nor the contentment we thought it would. We cannot find the feeling of peace we are hankering after. We feel restless yet slightly excited, there is a ‘buzzing’ going on which we may not be able to identify but we can feel that something is changing. We feel the deep calling of ourselves more keenly now, although we may not realise that is what it is; yet paradoxically we often find ourselves deeply embedded in the world at the same time, in our careers, our relationships or simply our views of ‘how things are’. We are feeling more of the immense Love which is changing from a trickle into a steady torrent as it pulses through us, following on from the fire of the Holy Spirit working through us in its transformative and purgative way. The fire did not burn us as we feared it may, but it did change us, altering our landscape. It may have purged us deeper and harder, in an instant transforming all those things we knew into completely alien scenarios; perhaps we lost the relationship, or the job or found that none of it meant anything to us anymore anyway after we had held for so long that it did.
The fire of the Holy Spirit cleanses us in order to lay before us a new landscape; that we may now choose again. It clears the dross that clogged and stifled us and prevented us. It has purified our attitudes, our thoughts and emotions more than anything, how we view things, how we feel about things, and offers us the chance to move where perhaps before we had been mired in the mud of our making. It is an unsure time though; we know what has gone yet we are not firmly sure of what is coming. We are at an in-between place again.
We may feel we have lost a lot in this process; but in truth we have gained everything of value. We have ben invited to form a deeper, more knowing relationship with God and His Loving; and He awaits us eagerly. We are now at one of the first stages of becoming united in full conscious awareness, we are now starting to enter the mystical/monastic stages of relationship with the Great Sustaining Love that has been calling us faithfully since we entered this form.
There is a form of prayer known as Centering Prayer which helps act as a bridge between these states of unconscious and conscious awareness and deepening. You call it to your awareness and have found this through your desire. You have put this desire forwards and outwards in some way and this is your reply. It is God that leads us, works through us and answers us in our questing.
From here we travel through deeper and deeper expressions which will last our entire lifetime as we just relax and fall deeper and deeper within the Heart of God, becoming more and more at One with Him. One may stay in the stage of Centring Prayer for a long while, years in some cases,and one may also move on. It is a natural progression to the next stage when one is ready and has fully accomplished this stage and received the Divine Gifts of it. Do not rush it, do not wish to travel further before you have truly soaked this stage up. I will be travelling further with this blog but it does not mean you have to rush along with me! You may wish to simply float in this new state for years; and simply enjoy what you have found here. The other reason for not rushing beyond this point is that God will lead you into the next stage when He knows you are ready for it. He may well encourage you to experience three stages within this one; centering prayer, silent prayer and then lead you into contemplative prayer. The three can happen seperately and together and you will learn how to recognise each from each other.
Also strangely, we are learning how to pray properly, although we thought we had been up until now. God will show you how He wants you to pray; and will teach you. When He knows that you have been fully refined in this stage then He will led you to the next stage. So although I imagine you will read on…[I would too!], you may well find the following posts after this one ‘a bit to far’, ‘a bit strange’, or just ‘not you’. They will be good for you, but feeling at odds at all with them is your clue: it’s not for you yet. So stick with this stage until it becomes as natural as breathing, let it unfold, master your impatience, flow through it and you will arrive at the next point when led by He who knows you intimately and has assured you of your arrival in His good time. For those who read on with the next posts and say ‘wow!’ and ‘yes!’ and even ‘Oh My God!’ then you are now ready to move into the final stage of prayer, which is utterly God led. You will be following the Prayer of the Heart which is the most ancient prayer there is, the one that all monks and nuns use, and which thankfully has been kept intact within the Orthodox Church, and within Catholic monasteries around the world, but largely lost to the church congregations. Many of the monks say that it is because of this and the inevitable barriers people experience within their prayer life because this developing route is no longer taught within their churches, that more and more people are leaving their churches to find it elsewhere. They could be right. We all need to spiritually grow and develop consciously and if the ceiling has been clamped down too low, there are only so many times we will be prepared to thump our heads. All of you will get to this point I assure you; when you are ready. This final point is the work of a lifetime and is the relationship that you deepen for all your years, and through which all revelation, relationship and union is experienced in and through Gods grace and in His own time.
The Centering Prayer is the bridge which puts you in the right place in relation to God to enable you to move on to that final stage with Him leading you. It requires discipline and dedication and it is likely that you have already asked for this deepening relationship and knowing even before you found this blog. You have been called, Loved and embraced by God and He is asking and inviting you now to enter a deeper more intimate knowing of Him whilst still here on Earth in order to live and extend more fully yourself in your everyday life, the Divine Love of Him.
St. Paul used the word “gnosis” to refer to the knowledge of God which is of an intimate nature ; involving the whole person, not just the mind. He prayed this for his disciples as if it were an indispensable element for growth in the Christian life. Around 300 AD, the Greek Fathers (Origen, Clement of Alexandria, and Gregory of Nyssa) defined contemplation as the experiential knowledge which comes by love, or the knowledge of God which is impregnated by love. It is a gift of God which comes as the result of meditation upon the word, and resting in the presence of God. In this rest, the mind and heart are still, but are beginning to practically experience what they have sought or learned about in the scriptures. Up through the 12th century, the common method of prayer for all Christians was called “lectio divina”, a practice which involved reading scripture at deeper levels of meaning. Involved in this process are three steps:
Meditation– the reflecting with the mind upon the meaning of the sacred texts, Affective prayer– the spontaneous movement of the will in response to these reflections and Contemplation – the simplification of meditation and affective prayer to a state of resting quietly in the presence of the Lord.
These three acts were interwoven and might all take place in the same period of prayer. Contemplation was regarded as the normal development of listening to the Word of God.
So it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Father Thomas Keeting; a Trappist monk and a great and extremely experienced teacher in whose hands we are guided safely.
Summary Of Beliefs:
The Centering Prayer