Click here for the lesson on this topic.
Reflection and Discussion
1. How has this presentation confirmed or challenged your understanding of contemplative prayer?
2. At this time in your spiritual journey, how helpful do you find active, kataphatic forms of prayer?
3. Have you ever experienced the Prayer of Quiet or the Prayer of Union? If so, would you be willing to share what that was like for you and how it affected your sense of God�s presence in your life.
I see that in 3 years there has not been a nibble at this topic... perhaps there is another place on the site where it has been discussed? I'm new here and joined after reading other posts, in the hope of perhaps discussing this kind of thing and learning from others.
I have experienced the Prayer of Quiet on and off for about the last 15 years - but consistently and more deeply for the last year. By your description, perhaps I should say "Prayer of Union" but it wouldn't have occurred to me to call it that before... for one thing, I'm not nearly detached enough. I struggle with what poverty and mortification mean in the worldly life of a wife and mother. So far, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa have been my best guides to what I've experienced - but I'm sure I don't always understand them well.
I apologize if this is off-base as I'm new and have only read a few posts. Thank you for providing this forum!
Welcome Dawn. You've availed yourself of some excellent guides to the Christian mystical journey.
This material was from an online workshop offered here a few years ago. It's been rather quiet since, but the discussion thread is still open.
Your link in the first post might be a good resource for the "God as pure consciousness?" thread.
Poverty comes in many forms. Mother Teresa said that in America people were materially rich and spiritually poor. Here is an example:
Over a million have died in our wars, mostly for some banker. Millions have been snuffed out before ever breathing a breath, no room at the inn.
I have to learn of things like torture, and descend with God to new levels of sorrow, tears and sadness.
They tell me of a level where the suffering of others will no longer affect me, and everything will be accepted as it should be, and I will no longer feel the sting of it.
There are moments such as these, and they are glorious and sublime, but I know that Jesus wept...
I have the book by John Climacus from Paulist press. Perhaps I shall take up and read.
I'm sure that you have much to share. Thank you for this gift.
caritas, mm <*))))><
Thank you for the welcomes. I'm currently trying to take in some of the many posts on this site. There are a number of topics that look interesting which I know little or nothing about (like kundalini).
It is so good for you to have joined us, and like the above members I want to welcome you.
There is much to read here together with new information which I so cherished when I first joined the forum, and continue to learn and benefit from.
My prayer time is very simple and childlike. I was unaware that I was praying in Prayer of Quiet and Prayer of Union until I read the introduction to this thread. Where ever God leads me to in my prayers, is the right place and joyful prayers for Him.
So be happy and I hope you will share much with us.
"...perhaps I should say "Prayer of Union" but it wouldn't have occurred to me to call it that before... for one thing, I'm not nearly detached enough."
I think I normally share your problem of "not being nearly detached enough." However, I also know that passively, I've had experiences where, by grace, the Spirit has detached me from the self that I normally know as me. "Prayer of union" has that passive quality -- a partial fulfillment of Jesus' prayer in John 17 that his disciples may be "one" with the Father as he is one with the Father.
What is your reaction to that way of putting it? Normally it may be best to keep such talk secret. But then there is also the desire to support others on their journey. I hope this is useful.
Thanks for reviving that little essay.
I had not seen it before.
Peace and all Good,
Thank you Freebird and Ryan.
I like your way of putting it... after my post it occurred to me that, by the grace of the Spirit, prayer takes me places beyond where I'm able to dwell (even remotely).
I've also noticed that it's best to keep such talk secret. For one thing, even if talk is needed, it usually doesn't work well! Over 15 years ago, when I first experienced praying "beyond where I was at," I didn't have any success in tentatively trying to communicate about it and was distressed to find that there was no one to talk to in my church and no teaching about such experiences in my upbringing (I'm United Methodist). It may very well be there were people I could have talked to (who would have understood what I was trying to say)... if so, the secret may be a bit too well kept. Now that I'm older I'm always trying to find a balance between saying enough so that others who might be called to this prayer or confused (like I was and still sometimes am) would find me approachable and not revealing my "secret." The hiddeness truly seems like a blessing for now... but I'm getting a bit less effective at hiding some things.
I feel the lack of good guidance and fret about mistakes I've made (and probably continue to make) for that reason. I've misunderstood things in a hundred different ways (and surely still do - not that I'm under an illusion of being able to understand). I've taken to reading and seeking information... like at this forum. For example, I saw some posts on "loss of affective ego" (I think) which have gotten me thinking about something I once experienced in a different way.
Grace and peace,
On loss of the affective ego, here is a link you might find helpful.
I found that web page and phoned Tyra Arraj who shared about her experience with loss of the affective ego. She is so open. I learned later that she and her husband know Phil, he has visited them.
Have you considered seeking spiritual direction through Phil's Heartland Center For Spirituality? There's a link for this on the opening web page; they provide phone consultations.
Earlier, on a different thread, I said that through Thomas Keating and Centering Prayer, I�d learned not to identify contemplation with experience. I�d like to nuance that statement and I would like feedback, particularly from Phil. For me, separating contemplation from experience has to do particularly with relationship to the Father, the Source who is beyond experience. The Source is one aspect of a trinity in contemplation.
Outline of a Trinitarian Contemplation. Contemplation in relation to the Son points to the bodily aspect of life, the �body of Christ� the church, and in marriage, loving one�s beloved as Christ loved the church. Contemplation in relation to the Spirit points to inner spiritual and soulful experience: mourning turned to consolation, the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace�) and the gifts of the Spirit, prophesy, teaching, healing� Contemplation in relation to the Father is beyond direct experience, it is a union of wills beyond the perception of the sences. Mystically, in the �ascent of the soul to God,� it is the experience of no experience. The contemplative life is walking in the mystery of union of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I welcome your feedback on this outline.
Dawn, maybe you'll get all the feedback you need here. If not, as w.c. noted, spiritual direction might be helpful. If you want to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), we can explore what's available in your area. I generally recommend face-to-face direction, if possible. If that's not, then what we offer through our site is the next best option.
Ryan, I like what you wrote about praying and living in the mystery of the Trinity. Here's a recent post on a thread about being a Christian that also has something to say about the Trinity in the Christian life. And this thread is all about the Trinity in the Christian life.
For me, contemplative experiences per se very seldom associate with any of the Persons of the Trinity; in my faith-understanding, however, I can better see how contemplative experience involves all three Persons:
- a "being-with" the Son;
- a "being-in" the Spirit;
- a "being-unto" the Father.
The experience, beginning with the Prayer of Quiet, and deepening to states beyond, is characterized moreso by a living contact with a Presence that is nonetheless obscure and shrouded in mystery. While the Persons of the Trinity do not clearly manifest in a differentiated manner, there is this sense of being so relationally embraced from all three directions.
This is rather unique to Christian contemplation. It is not focused more on the inner, outer or between, but seems to rest in all simultaneously. I think only a Trinitarian encounter can bring forth such an experience.
Wow - thanks for all the suggestions. I really like the innerexplorations website (I've read some of the book about St. John of the Cross there). It was that site that tipped me off to visiting this site - though I see, there's plenty more there for me to read.
I did not know about Phil's Heartland Center for Spirituality, but look forward to checking it out. I have tried spiritual direction in the past (for about a year), but it was rather a failure (my director kept suggesting ways for me to create the right mood, etc. for prayer, and eventually I gave up trying to explain that that wasn't exactly my problem... I quit due to other circumstances without actually trying to talk out the problems, which I regret...) I also saw a pastoral psychologist for about a year (in the wake of a terrifying dark night followed by loss of affective ego type of experience - I had given up prayer entirely for a year and simply forcing myself to talk about it was good therapy). We do have a sprituality network in my area, but I've been negligent in pursuing it further. I recently tried calling a nun recommended to me, but she hasn't returned my call, and I haven't felt sure of whether I should be persistent or not...
The thoughts shared on the trinity and contemplation are very perceptive (and I concur in my limited experience).
I've also noticed that in my past, in what might be considered a place in-between the worlds of meditation and contemplation (if such a thing exists!), my prayer-life has been extremely centered on Christ. For me, the sense of "being-with" has been and is still primary and the senses of "being-in" and "being-unto" are more recent developments (reflecting that I'm a beginner at this?). He is the Way and the Gate in many manners.
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