April e-bulletin

Vela Zanetti, Mural of Human Rights. Emblem Un (detail), 1953

           Seekers are people of faith even if they do not belong to a particular religion. Faith in this sense is deeper than one’s belief system. Belief systems belong to the level of pluralism; faith to the level of unity. Faith is constitutive of human nature itself. It is openness to Ultimate Mystery before It is broken down into various belief systems. It is the acceptance of authentic living with all its creativity and the acceptance of dying with its potential for a greater fullness of life. The experience of the transcendent dimension in oneself is an expression of this fundamental faith at work.

One aspect of the search for Ultimate Mystery requires special emphasis today. I refer to Its identification with other human beings and with their needs, rights, and heartbreaks. The seeker must search for Ultimate Mystery not only in Itself, but also in Its manifestation in individual human beings, especially in those who are suffering unjustly. …

If seekers of Ultimate Mystery perceive themselves as citizens of the planet earth, then their first loyalty is to the human family as a whole. The particulars of race, nationalism, religion and culture can be transcended without reacting against them or trying to destroy them.

Thomas Keating
“Seekers of Ultimate Mystery,”
The Contemplative Outreach News, June 2010
(the full newsletter archive is here)



Q: I’ve been meditating for about 10 years every day three or four times for about 30 minutes each. I’ve practiced mantra and just sitting or Shikantaza,
Later on I’ve been doing Centering Prayer twice a day and Christian meditation per John Main. Can I practice both or should choose one? I really love the silence and resting in the presence of God.

A: Read Lindsay’s response here.





You can view the complete e-bulletin  at    https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2023-april-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

2023 February e-bulletin

Hilma af Klint, What a Human Being Is, 1910


“Bonding with others takes place as the love of the Spirit is poured forth in our hearts. We feel that we belong to our community, to the human family, to the cosmos. We feel that our prayer is not just a privatized journey but is having a significant effect in the world. We can pour into the world the love that the Spirit gives us in prayer.”

Thomas Keating
Intimacy with God


Q: I’ve been practicing Zen meditation with a Christian group for 18 years. What is your view with respect to how Zen contemplation relates to Centering Prayer? The principles seem to be very similar. I ask because I’m trying to figure out the best next step for me to continue deepening in my contemplative prayer life. 

A: Read Joy’s response here





Join in Global Community
United in Prayer Day
March 3-4, 2023


In honor of Thomas Keating’s birthday (March 7) and dedicated to healing the suffering world.

Join in Centering Prayer in community hosted by local groups around the world. You may enter and leave as many times as you wish. Some people make it an at-home retreat day.

More information may be found here on the calendar, including the schedule.

The Zoom link to the event will be posted on the calendar
early in March.

If you are interested in facilitating prayer for an open time slot, please reply to this email.


You can read the complete e-bulletin at   https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2023-feb-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

December e-Bulletin

The Helix Nebula, NASA and Tommaso Stella


“God is manifesting in each moment as the human condition in each of us. … ‘We are icons of God.’ God experiences Godself in us and awakens God’s dispositions in us, especially humility, forgiveness and compassion. …

Christ lives in us means that Christ prays, acts, thinks, loves, suffers, and dies in us; and at the deepest level is our true Self. … Our precious days on earth -– the spiritual journey – are not primarily about us, or even about our transformation in Christ. They are about God taking over our lives in every detail. … Living daily life and the evolution of consciousness are … about God …. The goal is not just union, or even unity with God, but God incarnating in our humanity with all its circumstances.”

Thomas Keating
Reflections on the Unknowable



Q: I heard you share this quote: “The greatest experience of God is no experience of God” (Thomas Keating). This saying has me very confused.  My life has been filled with both giving and receiving love, including mercy and forgiveness, which to me is the experience of God in the my life. I’ve also been witness to the healing love of God in my life and many others. All of creation is the manifestation of God’s love, constantly pouring out, renewing, expanding and birthing more love. Please explain how this contradicts perhaps my false sense of God experience.

A: Read Fr. Carl’s response here




You can read the complete bulletin at    https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-dec-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

October e-bulletin

“Be still, and you will know, not by the knowledge of the mind, but by the knowledge of the heart, who God is and who you are.”

Thomas Keating
Consenting to God as God Is


Q: Sometimes during Centering Prayer, an emotional pain comes up that causes me to cry from a deep level.  Is this Divine Therapy or is it the “emotionality” teachers tell us to avoid? 
A: Read Mary’s response.


Q: I’m at times confusing Centering Prayer with mindfulness meditation. At times when I’m doing Centering Prayer, I find that I’m focusing on my breath and I know I’m not supposed to focus on anything. I’m wanting to build more of a relationship with God and feel God’s presence in my life, but also I’m wanting to reduce the anxiety in my life. So, do I do two different sits each day?
A. Read Mary’s response.


Have questions? Submit your questions about your Centering Prayer practice or other contemplative practices, the spiritual journey and the contemplative life to any of our contributors by emailing pamela@coutreach.org.


You can read the complete e-Bulletin at     https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-oct-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

August e-bulletin

Giacomo Balla, Spirit-form transformation, 1918


New wine is a marvelous image of the Holy Spirit. As we move to the intuitive level of consciousness through contemplative prayer, the energy of the Spirit cannot be contained in old structures. They are not flexible enough. They may have to be left aside or adapted. The new wine as a symbol of the Spirit has a tendency to stir people up; for that reason, the fathers of the church called it ‘sober intoxication.’ Although its exuberance is subdued, it breaks out of categories and cannot be contained in neat boxes.

Thomas Keating
Meditations on the Parables of Jesus




This is the second in a series of essays on the fruits of Centering Prayer in long-term practitioners and how the world is changed through fidelity to practice. You can read the first article here.

How Centering Prayer is Changing the World:
A Love Letter from the Dominican Republic


… The Dominican Republic is a country blessed by the Holy Spirit and that highlights its Christian heritage on its national flag, which incorporates a quote from the Gospel of St. John: “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free“. … Did you know that the Dominican Republic was one of the first countries that to be introduced to Centering Prayer? In 1985, a group of Dominican friends met regularly in for prayer in our homes as a part of the Christian Family Movement. … Read more >>>

Cándido Bidó, Lot 501: Landscape, 1982

Dominican artist

You can read the complete bulletin at   https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-august-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

July e-bulletin

So, if you accept the view that [the self] is a dynamic experience, that the self can keep on growing, then it becomes a true self in the image and likeness of God, then there is the possibility that there is only one Self. There is only God. There is only one Self, or one consciousness in fact. And in the light of those scientific discoveries, if there is one consciousness, it is the infinite unlimited consciousness of God, which is shared with every creature according to its capacity. So, God is present in everyone, relating to them where they are, but nudging them to move beyond, especially the humans, to the unbelievable share in the divine beatitude. And what is that? It is ultimately sacrifice. That is maybe one way of looking at the universe.

Thomas Keating
“The Self and Evolving Consciousness,” 
That We May Be One: Christian Non-Duality



Q: My attempts at Centering Prayer have not been particularly good. Though I do believe that any attempts to connect with God are honoured and I know at times I have felt God’s presence and voice, but not often. It’s usually after the prayer time I feel closer & am aware of God doing things in my life.

A: Read Leslee’s response.







You can read the complete e-bulletin at   https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-july-e-bulletin-1593732?e=9aa0837e74

June e-bulletin

If it is God’s will to create in an evolutionary manner, which is what science is now saying, then we are only halfway there. We are in the middle of nowhere. … [Beasts] follow their instincts, and they glorify God by doing so. We cannot do that anymore because following some of these instincts is choice, and we have been given freedom of choice by God. Do you think God does not expect us to make mistakes? Is it a good idea to call these mistakes ‘sins?’ Or might it better to say, ‘Sorry, you are a little unevolved.’ This is the human condition. God seems to have placed us in this transitional state, which, from the perspective of clarity and peaceful growth, is impossible. …

When you can do what is right freely, this is freedom. Nothing else is freedom. … And because we have free choice, we have the accountability for our free choices and their consequences. 

Thomas Keating
God is All in All: The Evolution of the Contemplative Christian Spiritual Journey




  Q: Our Centering Prayer group has been studying The Cloud of Unknowing translated by Carmen Acevedo Butcher. In chapter 14, pg 42, we are told to “Get to know yourself. Through it, you’ll experience God as [God] is.” Our group would be interested in some practical steps for getting to know ourselves as a step in the spiritual journey.

A: Read Mary Dwyer’s and Fr. Carl Arico’s response to this question.

you caan read the full e-bulletin at      https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-june-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

May e-bulletin

There will be times when contemplatives feel they cannot pray anymore. All that is left to them is the desire to pray, sometimes buried under enormous difficulties in daily life along with interior purification. They need to be reminded again and again that the desire to pray is itself a prayer. St. John of the Cross wrote with great insight “Love consists not in feeling great things, but in having great detachment and in suffering for the Beloved.” The love of God is not a question of feeling but of choice … Thus someone who wants to pray is praying, and someone who feels no love is loving as long as he or she continues to remain available both in prayer and in daily life to the Divine Therapist.

Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God




“The way we would begin in prayer is that we belong to God …
all prayer starts and unfolds out of that knowing…”


Wise words from Thomas Merton to his novice monks. We would do well to listen for this inner certainty changes everything. But I can’t seem to hold on to this precious knowing. How do I swim in this golden river of love for longer than ten seconds, this fierce, ineffable, bottomless love of the Creator for creation?

image courtesy of elpopophoto
The truth is little by little. By myself, I can’t hold on to anything. But I am faithful to my Centering Prayer practice, as Jim Finley would say, “my daily rendezvous with God.”
Often, I find myself sighing deeply over my failings, sometimes laughing and other times tearful at my thoughts and actions. Thankfully, with less hateful judgment and criticism. I am living more and more of my life from a calm inner, compassionate awareness, and acceptance of my own preciousness in the face of my imperfections.
Perhaps I am swimming in the golden river of love and belonging more than I realize, especially when I look at myself with the eyes of God. This is good news.

Deborah Marqui
Healing Gardens, Illinois, USA


The full archive of community articles may be found here.

The complete e-bulletin can be found at   https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-may-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74

April e-bulletin


The practice of meditation is indeed an authentic experience of dying to self … it is like a “mini-death,” at least from the perspective of the ego … We let go of our self-talk, our interior dialogue, our fears, wants, needs, preferences, daydreams, and fantasies. These all become just “thoughts,” and we learn to let them go. … In this sense, meditation is a mini-rehearsal for the hour of our own death, in which the same thing will happen. There is a moment when the ego is not longer able to hold us together, and our identity is cast to the mercy of Being itself. This is the existential experience of “losing one’s life.” …

Just as in meditation we participate in the death of Christ, we also participate in [Christ’s] resurrection. At the end of those twenty minutes or so of sitting, when the bell has rung, we are still here! For twenty minutes we have not been holding ourselves in life, and yet life remains. Something has held us and carried us. And this same something, we gradually come to trust, will hold and carry us at the hour of our death. To … really know this is the beginning of resurrection life. 

Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening







Ohara Koson, Lily and Butterflies, 1912



Q: What’s the difference between Centering Prayer and contemplation, and why does this matter?

A: Read the full question and David’s response.


You can read the complete bulletin at     https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-april-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74


March E-bulletin

“Forgiveness is central to the Christian religion. It was Jesus’ chief concern on the night of his resurrection when he revealed himself to the apostles … breathed on them, and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them. Whose sins you retain are retained’ (John 20:22-23). …

“God is nothing but forgiveness. We too must practice forgiveness to be God’s children. There may be events and people in our conscious and unconscious memories that we have not forgiven. This leaves them in deep, even if repressed, psychological pain. It is in our power to heal them or to leave them in their pain. … In actual fact, not to forgive others is not to forgive ourselves. At the deepest level, we are everyone else. We can only enjoy the world of unconditional love with hearts that are completely open to everyone.”

Thomas Keating, Manifesting God


Q: How does God work in me in Centering Prayer? … 

How Does God Work in Centering Prayer?


Q: My problem is in understanding in what way and how God works in me in Centering Prayer. I know that to enter in Centering Prayer is to let go of all thoughts and words and verbal or silent “actual/conventional” prayer and to just be in God’s presence and let God work in me, but how do I know what and that God has worked in me??


A: Read the full question and Fr. Carl’s response here.


You can find the complete E-bulletin at     https://mailchi.mp/coutreach/2022-march-e-bulletin?e=9aa0837e74