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I recently attended a weekend retreat at the Bethany Retreat Center. Father William Meninger shared The Cloud of Unknowing and Saint John of the Cross. Let me tell you a little bit more about Father William Meninger. It is pulled directly from his web site, Contemplative Prayer.
In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.
This form of meditation, recently known as ‘Centering Prayer’ (from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity. The Centering Prayer centers one on God.
The Cloud was written, not in Latin but in Middle English – which means that it was intended primarily for laymen rather than for priests and monks. Father Meninger saw that it was a simple book on the ultimate subject, with only 75 brief chapters.
He quickly began teaching contemplative prayer according to The Cloud of Unknowing at the Abbey Retreat House. One year later his workshop was taken up by his Abbot, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, both of whom had been looking for a teachable form of Christian contemplative meditation to offset the movement of young Catholics toward Eastern meditation techniques.
Ten years later, Abbot Keating, now retired and a member of Father Meninger’s community of St. Benedict’s in Colorado, initiated his highly organized and effective Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. in order to facilitate a spirituality focused on Centering Prayer.
I want to share some “one liners” that I heard this remarkable man speak. Even at 84 Father Meninger is funny, witty, current, sharp, present. Father Meninger loves God and is filled with God.
“We fall and we start over again.”
“We should be One in love.”
“You are a steward of God’s mysteries.”
“Grace is the presence of God.”
“Grace is the companionship of God.”
“Our minds try to understand God. Attempts to know God have to give away to loving God.”
“Contemplative prayer is union with God without any intermediaries.”
“Love God for His own self, not for His gifts.”
“A mystic is anyone who approaches God without intermediaries.”
“We cannot do anything to earn God’s grace but we can remove obstacles.”
“God is going to love you and that is it.”
“If you are loving God, you have to love all who God loves.”
“Distractions are blessing. They cause you to cling to God in love. (During centering prayer)
I hope you enjoyed these “one liners”. Learn more about Father Meninger at Contemplative Prayer. I also encourage you to read both his book based upon The Cloud of Unknowing, The Loving Search for God and St. John of the Cross for Beginners.
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Are you in the Philadelphia PA area? Invite me to speak or teach Centering Prayer at your church or community gathering. Feel free to contact me to obtain more information.
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David Frenette’s book The Path of Centering Prayer reenergized the Centering Prayer tradition with its fresh insights and teachings. Centering Prayer Meditations: Effortless Contemplation to Deepen Your Experience of God is a wonderful companion audio program created to be equally rewarding as a stand-alone guide – gives listeners an immersive resource to learn contemplative prayer, step by step and in the moment. With clarity and compassionate presence, Frenette explains the essential principles of this contemplative practice for both new and seasoned practitioners.
Check out my review of Christian Prayer Methods by Dr. Philip St. Romain. It also works well in group studies too.
Listen to Simply Good News by New Testament scholar and author N. T. Wright. It is based upon his book Simply Good News. You will instantly get into the heart of the idea of ‘good news’ as it was understood by the 1st Century writers of the New Testament. Also works well in group studies.
Prepare to be immersed in the 1st Century A.D. context of the life, work, teachings, and actions of Jesus. Check out Simply Jesus by N. T. Wright.
Discover the Context, Content & Production of the New Testament in The Bible- An Introduction to the New Testament by Scott Metz.
Contemplative Light is a group of Spiritual Directors and writers. They offer a unique style of contemplative coaching based on the teachings and traditions of Christian Mysticism. Sign up for a Free Spiritual Map Session.