Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Prayer, meditation and contemplation



Canticle of the Creatures

All Praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars; in the heavens you have made them, bright, and precious, and fair.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brothers wind and air, and fair and stormy, all the weather's moods, by which you cherish all that you have made.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water, so useful, humble, precious and pure.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire, through whom you brighten up the night. How beautiful is he, how cheerful! Full of power and strength.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth, who sustains us and governs us, and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon for love of you; through those who endure sickness and trial. Happy are those who endure in peace, by You, Most High, they will be crowned.
All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death, from whose embrace no mortal can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Happy those she finds doing your will! The second death can do them no harm.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks and serve him with great humility.
St. Francis of Assisi

One of the things that I like about the Catholic church is its openness to diverse forms of prayer, meditation and contemplation.  Within the Catholic church there is a long tradition of mystical experience that is absent from much of Protestantism.  Indeed, it is not only absent but condemned as dangerous and unchristian in many cases.  I think this cutting off so much of traditional forms of meditation is a mistake.

Even with the acceptance of mysticism within the Church I have heard some Catholics express discomfort with such things as Centering Prayer and some forms of meditation that they see as too much aligned with "eastern religions."  I have read their arguments and find them mostly unconvincing.  It is true that one could go astray with such methods of prayer, but I don't think it is a problem so long as we keep our eyes and our focus on Jesus.  Some of the arguments I've heard sound like squabbles over definitions.  Somehow unless you use the right Catholic jargon you can't be doing it right.  And boy is there jargon!  There is even a whole dictionary of "Spiritual Terms" they have so you can translate from the jargon into English.  It seems to me that the problem they have with more recent methods of prayer, such as Centering Prayer, is that the practitioners of these methods don't use the same "spiritual dictionary" when talking about it.  Instead they use terms even I can understand.  I think this is a good thing.

I'll have a lot more to say about this in the future, but I've just heard several Catholics on EWTN warning folks away from Centering Prayer in particular and I think it's wrong headed. 

I haven't written in the last couple of days because I have been very tired.  On Saturday and Sunday I was sick, then I've been pushing myself, playing and swimming with the kids, going to the park, taking the RV for repairs and going on a long "hike" to get home from the shop... really I should have been resting I think.  

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