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Readings week of January 22nd.

Daily Contemplative Pause Readings

Monday, January 22nd with Heather

“Centering Prayer is in [a] sense a totally "win/ win" situation. Whatever your mind serves you up is just fine. If you sink immediately into such depths of stillness that when the bowl bell is rung at the end of twenty minutes, it seems like only a minute, great! You've had an easy and blessed time of it. If every minute feels like twenty and you've been bedeviled by thoughts more prolific than the heads of Medusa, but still you've been doing your best to let them go and return to the openness, great! You've gotten a good aerobic workout of your "muscle" of surrender!

…Something inside us is objectively strengthened by this patient willingness to let go of our own stuff, to do the practice in the face of almost unbearable psychological frustration… To sit there and quietly continue to do the practice, even if you perceive your efforts as totally unsuccessful, is, in [Keating’s} words, to know what it means to "consent to the presence and action of God within us" in whatever form it comes. The power of this prayer lies in the consent.” — Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening


Tuesday, January 23rd with Heather

“The meaning of the heart is beautifully expressed by the French Benedictine Henri Lassaux. In his book on prayer he says, "The heart is the place of our origin in which the soul is, as it were, coming from the hands of God and waking up to itself." Another important text on the heart that! will mention, among so many others in scripture, is from ​​Palm 64, a key text in Orthodox neptic theology: "The heart Is deep." What this means is that the human person is a profound mystery. So, in scripture, the heart means both a physical reality and a psychic and spiritual center. When we speak of the heart in scriptural terms there is no head heart dichotomy, no bodysoul contrast. The heart signifies the human person seen as an undivided unity. The heart is a symbol of whole-ness, of integration. The Biblical anthropology of the heart is a holistic anthropology.” — Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia 


Wednesday, January 24th with Heather

“The heart is the center of the person, the seat of wisdom, the place of inner vision.”

… “One author who preserves to an outstanding degree the full Semitic scriptural sense of the heart is the author of the pseudo-Macarian Homilies, a late fourth century text written in Greek, traditionally associated with St. Macarius of Egypt, though in fact its background is Syrian rather than Coptic. "The heart," says the author of the Homilies, "governs and reigns over the whole bodily organism, and when grace possesses the pasturages of the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts, for there in the heart is the intellect." The Greek word here for the "intellect" is nous, which does not mean the reasoning brain, the power of discursive argumentation. It means instead the faculty of inner vision whereby we apprehend spiritual truth, not as part of a reasoned argument, but immediately.” — Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia 


Thursday, January 25th with Heather

“There in the heart is the intellect, the nous and all its thoughts, and when grace possesses the heart, it penetrates also to all the members of the body… the heart governs and reigns over the whole bodily organism, so the heart is certainly a physical center, and when the heart stops beating, a person dies. But the heart is also the place where the intellect, the nous or spiritual understanding, dwells, and it is the place where grace is experienced. So the heart is the meeting place between the Divine and the human, between the spiritual and the physical, between God's grace and our freedom.”

— Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia 


Friday, January 26th with Heather

“From the perspective of concentrative and awareness practice, Centering Prayer looks like sleeping at the post, not pay ing attention. But is there more than one way to pay attention I believe there is, and that the key to understanding Centering Prayer's unique integrity and effectiveness as a path lies in reorganizing this. ...

But there is another way of paying attention that makes its way along a very different pathway of knowing: different, but no less effective. It is called attention of the heart. ...

Developing attention of the heart is all-important… because without it, it is impossible to acquire sufficient inner strength to fulfill the beatitudes.' …ordinary awareness per se is incapable of carrying out the gospel. Only when the mind is "in the heart," grounded and tethered in that deeper wellspring of spiritual awareness, is it possible to live the teachings of Jesus without hypocrisy or burnout. The gospel requires a radical openness and compassion that are beyond the capacity of the anxious, fear-ridden ego.”

— Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening


Saturday, January 27th with Heather

SPIRITUAL ADRENALINE by Steven Charleston in Ladder to the Light

“In moments of crisis, the adrenaline in our bodies can give us extraordinary strength, allou-ing us to do things we otherwise would never be able to do, The same is true for our spiritual adrenaline, that strength of faith within us that kicks in when we need it most. It is the power of the Spirit channeled through us by grace. It helps us to face challenges of illness, grief, and stress. It keeps us going when others grow weary. It lifts our vision to see the way forward. Faith is not just a refuge, but a source of resilience. It lets us move mountains and face down giants. It is the great release of pure spiritual energy we call love.”


Sunday, January 28th with Heather

“There comes a point on the learning curve of Centering Prayer—and it is a very important milestone in the "progress" this prayer—when you will find yourself attracted to a thought but immediately and willingly let it go because you instantly recognize that the thought will pull you back up to the surface, to a vibration that is less intense and less real than what you are presently engaged with. Your emerging magnetic center is increasingly recognized as the actual inner pulsation of a mutual yearning, yours for God and God's for you. The center begins to quicken, to take on a life of its own.

Not long afterward, you may begin to sense that center calling you even when you are not officially at prayer. In the midst of daily life, even as you move about in your ordinary awareness, you will notice the pulse of that underlying mutual yearning honing you to center. It is like a child you are carrying within you. Even as you go about your daily activities, you can sense it as a deeper life tugging and fluttering within you, reminding you of the greater life to which you belong. Centering Prayer is well named in this respect, because its most powerful physiological effect is that it will tend to develop in you a kind of habitual gravitation from within that is constantly calling you to your depths. In a surrender practice, this is how attention of the heart becomes physically embodied.” 

— Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening


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