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From the Daily Contemplative Pauses
"In all my years of traveling around the world, one thing has been present in every region, everywhere.
One thing has stood out and convinced me of the certain triumph of the great human gamble on equality and justice.
Everywhere there are people who, despite finding themselves mired in periods of national darkness or personal marginalization refuse to give up the thought of a better future or give in to the allurements of a deteriorating present. They never lose hope that the values they learned in the best of times or the courage it takes to reclaim their world from the worst of times are worth the commitment of their lives. These people, the best of ourselves, are legion and they are everywhere.
It is the unwavering faith, the open hearts, and the piercing courage of people from every level of every society that carries us through every major social breakdown to the emergence again of the humanization of humanity. In every region, everywhere, they are the unsung but mighty voices of community, high-mindedness, and deep resolve. They are the prophets of each era who prod the rest of the world into seeing newly what it means to be fully dive, personally, nationally, and spiritually."
— Joan Chittister, The Time is Now, p. 5
"The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another and all involved in one another."
— Thomas Merton
“Only from the level of spiritual awareness do you begin to see and trust that all is held in the divine Mercy. But once grounded in that certainty, you can begin to reach out to the world with the same wonderful, generous vulnerability that we see in Christ.”
― Cynthia Bourgeault, Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening
"God is present with me this day.
God is present with me in the midst of my anxieties. I affirm in my own heart and mind the reality of [God's] presence. [God] makes immediately available to me the strength of [God's] goodness, the reassurance of [God's] wisdom and the heartiness of [God's] courage. My anxieties are real; they are the result of a wide variety of experiences, some of which I understand, some of which I do not understand. One thing I know concerning my anxieties: they are real to me. Sometimes they seem more real than the presence of God. When this happens, they dominate my mood and possess my thoughts. The presence of God does not always deliver me from my anxiety but it always delivers me from anxieties. Little by little, I am beginning to understand that deliverance from anxiety means fundamental growth in spiritual character and awareness. It becomes a quality of being, emerging from deep within, giving to all the dimensions of experience a vast immunity against being anxious. A ground of calm underlies experiences whatever may be the tempestuous character of events. This calm is the manifestation in life of the active, dynamic Presence of God.
God is present with me this day."
— Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart, p. 50
"In the diary of George Fox there appears this very significant sentence: "Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit, from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence cometh life; whereby thou mayest receive the strength and power to allay all storms and tempests." This is an important result of the habitual use of the quietness that a [human] can carry around inside of [them]. It is a central stillness of spirit that is so vital that it can tame the wildness out of almost any tempest, however raging it may be. Of course the individual must desire this to happen. Sometimes there are ragings of anxiety, of hurts that we do not want to see disappear. They provide excellent opportunities to bolster up our own ego or own sense of faltering security. This fact must not blind us to the great power that there is in what is here referred to as the central stillness. For it is in the quiet which invades us and which becomes a characteristic of our total respiration that we are most acutely aware of the operation of the Presence of God. Here is the "mercy seat” of God before which all things are stripped to their true essence and their real character revealed. The plans and purposes of our times, the primary and secondary levels of our desiring, the fateful issues of our loves and hates, the ground of our own faith are established and confirmed. There is a wonderful lift to the spirit in knowing that the way is always channeled so that it may have free access to the mind and the cleansing power of God. "Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit, from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord from whence cometh life.”
— Howard Thurman, Meditations of the Heart, p. 24-25
"Centering prayer is a method for opening the way to contemplative prayer. . .it helps our awareness to come into contact with God present to us, in us, and to bring our whole selves into quietness to enjoy that presence and be refreshed by it.
“Mystical theologians have not hesitated to speak of an acquired contemplation—in distinction to infused contemplation—a contemplative state or experience which the contemplator has taken some part in bringing into being. All prayer is a response to God and begins with [God]. . . It is not only in infused contemplation that God’s grace is operative. When the little child lisps his “Now I lay me down to sleep…,” if there is any movement of faith and love there, any true prayer, grace is present and operative. Every prayer is a response to a movement of grace, whether we are explicitly aware of it or not, whether we consciously experience the movement, the call, the attraction or not. God present in us, present all around us, is calling us to respond to [God’s] presence, [God’s] love, [God’s] caring. We are missing reality if we think otherwise. . . For it is, indeed, an invitation from the Lord to enter and abide within. Not to respond to such a loving invitation from the infinite God of love is sheer tragedy. Yet, to respond to such an invitation is to open oneself to a transformation of conscience and consciousness, with all that can lead to. One’s life will never be the same again.”
— Basil Pennington in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 7
“The simple method of entering into contemplative prayer has been aptly called centering prayer. The name is inspired by Thomas Merton. In his writings he stressed that the simplest way to come into contact with the living God is to go to one’s center and from there pass into God. This is the way the author of The Cloud would lead us, although his imagery is somewhat different.”
“As the author of The Cloud says, “Simply sit relaxed and quiet….”
Most important, the body should be relaxed. When our Lord said, “Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matt. 11:28), He meant the whole man: body, soul, and spirit—not just the spirit. But the body is not apt to be refreshed if we begin the prayer physically tense. Settling down in our chair and letting go, letting the chair fully support the body, is sacramental of what is to take place in the prayer. In centering prayer we settle in God, let ourselves go, let [God] fully support us, rest us, refresh us.”
— Basil Pennington in Finding Grace at the Center, p. 9. 11