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.
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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”.
The Loving Search for God by William Meninger
St. John of the Cross for Beginners by William Meninger
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