Centering Prayer Returns to Saint Mark's

FOUR TUESDAYS: MAY 3, 10, 17, & 24

7 P.M., (following in-person Evening Prayer) in the cathedral nave

For many years, a group met each week to practice Centering Prayer at Saint Mark's, but the group decided to suspend the ministry indefinitely during the pandemic. In May of 2022, this practice will return to Saint Mark's.

About Centering Prayer

On Tuesday evenings, we will gather at Saint Mark’s for an hour of centering prayer and discussion. This time of meditative prayer is open to anyone who yearns for a richer spiritual life—whether you mediate regularly and want to practice with others or you’re curious and looking for support. And especially if you think you can’t meditate because your life is too hectic or your mind won’t shut up or you tried it and it "didn’t work." Come, sit. There’s no such thing as not being able to meditate. Whatever happens happens. All are welcome. And over time, it will change you. You’ll find it a little bit easier to tap serenity; you’ll feel a little more grounded when things are spinning around you.

Prayer is relationship with the divine. There are lots of expressions of relationship, each with parallels in prayer — talking to each other, listening to each other, doing things together, and, sometimes, when you're with a loved one, you aren't doing or saying anything; you're just being in each other's presence. That's what meditation is in the Christian tradition: sitting in the presence of the divine, or, as St. Gregory the Great in the 6th century described it, “resting in God.”

For 1,600 years in the Christian tradition, prayer was understood to include formless contemplation. Starting in the 1200s and deepening in the 17th century, there was a shift towards scholasticism and rational study, away from the mystical and contemplative, until most Christians thought it something only for the odd mystic. Several orders never let up, among them: Carthusians (featured in the film Into Great Silence); Trappists (inc. Fr. Thomas Merton & Fr. Thomas Keating), and Camaldolese (inc. Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault).

Centering prayer brings the Christian meditative tradition out of the monastery to make it more widely accessible again. The contemplatio phase of lectio divina is part of its foundation. The example of Jesus in the Gospels, who often went off alone to be with his Father, forms another part. Centering prayer is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative tradition, including the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, and John Cassian, Symeon the New Theologian, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Thérèse of Lisieux and Thomas Merton.

If you are curious and want to know more, consider joining the group gathering Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in the Nave, from May 3 through 24. Write to Phil Fox Rose at phil@philfoxrose.com with any questions you may have.