Quiet Day: Centering Prayer Practicing Unkowing and Patience

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1 Quiet Day: Centering Prayer Practicing Unkowing and Patience Saturday, February 2, 2008 St. Mary s Episcopal Church 815 Lincoln St., Cadillac, MI Church Office:

2 St. Patrick's Breastplate Also sometimes called "The Deer's Cry" or "The Lorica". I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through the belief in the threeness, Through confession of the oneness Of the Creator of Creation....I arise today Through God's strength to pilot me: God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's way to lie before me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me From snares of devils, From temptations of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill, Afar and anear, Alone and in multitude. Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the threeness, Through confession of the oneness, Of the Creator of Creation. (Excerpted. Full text can be found at: 2

3 Agenda 10:00 a.m. Arrival and coffee 10:10 a.m. Welcome and Introductions 10:20 a.m. Worship: Celtic Morning Prayer 10:30 a.m. Introduction to first silence: Unknowing 10:45 a.m. Quiet time (20 minutes): Practicing Unknowing 11:05 a.m. Individual silent reflection and journaling 11:30 a.m. Group reflection 11:45 a.m. Worship: A Form of Noonday Prayer 12:00 p.m. Lunch 12:30 p.m. Introduction to second silence: Patience 12:45 p.m. Quiet time (20 minutes): Practicing Patience 01:05 p.m. Individual silent reflection and journaling 01:30 p.m. Group reflection 01:45 p.m. Closing Prayers Welcome Welcome to St. Mary s and our quiet day of preparation for the season of Lent. Together we will learn and practice the discipline of Centering Prayer. This day is designed to follow a simple, natural rhythm of corporate prayer, individual prayer, silent reflection, and group discussion. Our pace will be slow, deliberate, and intentional. We re glad you re here. Centering Prayer "Centering prayer is a method designed to deepen the relationship with Christ begun, for example, in lectio divina and to facilitate the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to cooperate with this gift. It is an attempt to present the teaching of earlier times (e.g. the Cloud of Unknowing) in an updated form and to put a certain order and regularity into it. It is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer; it simply puts other kinds of prayer into a new and fuller perspective. During the time of prayer, we consent to God's presence and action within. At other times our attention moves outward to discover God's presence everywhere else." (Thomas Keating, Open Mind, Open Heart, p.139) 3

4 CELTIC MORNING PRAYER Opening Prayer Early in the morning I seek your presence, O God, not because you are ever absent from me but because often I am absent from you at the heart of each moment where you forever dwell. In the rising of the sun, in the unfolding colour and shape of the morning open my eyes to the mystery of this moment that in every moment of the day I may know your life-giving presence. Open my eyes to this moment that in every moment I may know you as the One who is always now. Scripture I prayed and understanding was given me, I called on God and the spirit of wisdom came to me. (Wisdom 7:7) Let me hear what you will speak when I turn to you in my heart. (Psalm 85:8) If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life: Or what will they give in return for their life? (Matthew 16:24-26) Meditation We come to quiet and dark places because Something calls to us deeply and we feel compelled to listen. The voice is often hard to hear, like someone shouting at a distance and so we sit, silent and still, straining to hear words which are spoken and the voice which calls our names over and over again. In the effort to hear more clearly, to understand more fully, we begin to move one foot in front of another on a path not entirely our making. We move because there is for all of us a place in which the voice and presence of God comes with such force, such power, so inescapably that we can only stand in the face of it and breathe it into our very being. It is the place of our resurrection. No two people find God in exactly the same spot for the places in which we start our journeys are as unique as we are. But we all do the traveling and the God who breaks in at the place of our resurrection is the God of all the world of stranger and family, enemy and friend, angel and human. In search of the place of our resurrection, we will wander the earth and the landscape of our lives as pilgrims and travelers. Guided by the Spirit, we are blessed to catch a glimpse, to experience for a glorious and eternal moment what it might be like to know God in resurrection. That is our food for the journey, the presence for which we live. It is why we leave the comfortable and familiar and why Jesus told us to leave everything and follow. It is why we can pray with St. Brendan in the midst of our anxiety and fear. 4

5 St. Brendan (Irish Contemplative) Lord, I will trust You. Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown. Give me the faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You. Christ of the mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me. I will trust in the darkness and know that my times, even now, are in Your hand. Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow, make my obedience count for You. (Source: Confession of Sin Let us confess our sins to God. God of all mercy, we confess that we have sinned against you, opposing your will in our lives. We have denied your goodness in each other, in ourselves, and in the world you have created. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf. Forgive, restore, and strengthen us through our Savior Jesus Christ, that we may abide in your love and serve only your will. Amen. Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through the grace of Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen. Almighty God, you have made us in the image of your own mystery, and in the soul of every human being there are depths beyond naming and heights greater than knowing; Grant us the grace of inner sight this day that we may see you as the Self within all selves. Open our senses to wisdom s inner promptings that we may give voice to what we hear and be changed for the healing of the world, in your name O God, Trinity in Unity. Amen. The Lord s Prayer Eternal Spirit, Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver, Source of all that is and that shall be, Father and Mother of us all, Loving God, in whom is heaven: The hallowing of your name echo through the universe! The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world! Your heavenly will be done by all created beings! Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope and come on earth. With the bread we need for today, feed us. In the hurts that we absorb from another, forgive us. In times of temptation and test, strengthen us. From trials too great to endure, spare us. From the grip of all that is evil, free us. For you reign in the glory of the power that is love, now and forever. Amen. Adapted from Newell, J. Philip. Sounds of the Eternal A Celtic Psalter. and A New Zealand Prayer Book. 5

6 CENTERING PRAYER Guidelines for Centering Prayer 1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your desire and intention to consent to God's presence and divine action within you. To choose a sacred word, simply ask the Holy Spirit to provide it then wait until you know it. The sacred word should be short and meaningful to you. Some examples are: God, Jesus, Abba, Father, Mother, Trust, Love, Peace, Shalom, Silence. 2. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Breathe deeply once or twice (fully in and fully out). Enter into yourself and silently, gently introduce the sacred word, repeating it as necessary as you let go awareness of your surroundings and attachment to your inner thoughts. Be sure your arms and legs remain uncrossed and your back is straight and supported. If you fall asleep, rest. If you awaken, return to your prayer. 3. When thoughts intrude, repeat your sacred word and return gently to the quietness within. You may notice body sensations, feelings, memories, or inner chatter happening here and there as you pray. This is normal. When it happens, return to your sacred word and let it lead you back to the quietness. 4. When the chime signals the end of the prayer period, remain for a moment in silence with eyes closed. Slowly allow yourself to become aware of your body and your environment. As you open your eyes, breathe deeply and move or stretch slowly and gently, allowing the fruits of your silence to have a place in the rest of your day. (Adapted from Thomas Keating's Open Mind, Open Heart, p ) SILENT REFLECTION Following each practice of Centering Prayer, silence is maintained so that particpants may use this time to individually reflect on their experiences during the prayer. This may take the form of sitting in quiet meditation, journaling, writing poetry about or drawing images of their experiences during Centering Prayer. You may be led into prayer, or to read something in the Bible or the Book of Common Prayer. Or you may be led to just sit and be, making no effort to process the prayer. Suggestions for using the silent reflection time 1. Do nothing at all. Relax and rest. 2. Find short prayers or phrases in the Bible, the hymn-book, the Prayer Book and dwell on them. 3. Walk about in the building or outside (weather permitting), respecting the silence and remaining open to the presence and leading of God. 4. Sit or kneel in the knave or sanctuary in the presence of the blessed sacrament. 5. Own your experience - your particular needs. Offer them to God and open yourself to receive the grace already awaiting you. 6. Think about your life of prayer private and corporate. If you have discovered a thirst for more or a deeper prayer life, open yourself to hear God s guidance on how to proceed to change it. 7. If your experiences in Centering Prayer and/or the silent reflection following have been frustrating, or if you are worried that you didn t do it right, note that in your journal and make a plan to talk with someone about it (your rector or spiritual director). Adapted from: 6

7 A FORM OF NOONDAY PRAYER Reader: O Being of life, O Being of peace, O Being of time, Be with us in the middle of the day O Being of Truth O Being of sight O Being of wisdom, Give us discernment in our choices. O God, you will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on you; for in returning and rest we shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be our strength. (Isaiah 26:3; 30:15) You are the peace of all things calm You are the place to hide from harm You are the light that shines in dark You are the heart's eternal spark You are the door that's open wide You are the guest who waits inside You are the stranger at the door You are the calling of the poor You are my Lord and with me from ill You are the light, the truth, the way You are my Saviour this very day. (Celtic oral tradition - 1st millennium. Source: The Lord s Prayer: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen. O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Blessing over the Meal Blessed are you, O Lord God, King of the Universe, for you give us food to sustain our lives and make our hearts glad; bless this food that it may nourish our bodies, that we may be strenghtened to serve you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 7

8 CLOSING PRAYER Blessing: Holy Wisdom, in your loving kindness you created and restored us when we were lost: inspire us with your truth, that we may love you with our whole minds and run to you with open hearts, through Christ our Savior. Amen. (Source: Alcuin of York, Mass of Wisdom) May the blessing of the God of Abraham and Sarah, and of Jesus Christ born of our sister Mary, and of the Holy Spirit, who broods over the world as a mother over her children, be upon you and remain with you always. Amen. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Thanks be to God. Aidan s Prayer Leave me alone with God as much as may be. As the tide draws the waters close in upon the shore, Make me an island, set apart, alone with you, God, holy to you. Then with the turning of the tide prepare me to carry your presence to the busy world beyond, the world that rushes in on me till the waters come again and fold me back to you. (Source: My Lord and my God, take me from all that keeps me from thee. My Lord and my God, grant me all that leads me to thee. My Lord and my God, take me from myself and give me completely to thee Nicholas of Flue ( ) Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth, and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world. " Brenda Peterson 8

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