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Contemplative Outreach

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Contemplative Outreach of Dallas/Fort Worth

What is Centering Prayer

Contemplative Outreach Organization

Contemplative Outreach of Dallas

Sandy's Biography

What is Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer is a method of prayer that prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer. Centering Prayer consists of responding to the Spirit of Christ by consenting to God's presence and action within. It furthers the development of contemplative prayer by preparing our faculties to cooperate with this gift.

Centering Prayer facilitates a movement from more active modes of prayer: verbal, discursive or affective prayer into a receptive prayer of resting in God. Centering Prayer is meant to enrich and compliment other forms of prayer, not to exclude or replace them. Centering Prayer is at the same time a relationship with God and a discipline to foster that relationship. It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effects; that is, it builds communities of faith and bonds the members together in charity.

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, the monastic practice of Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross, and St. Theresa of Avila. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970's by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.

Fr Thomas Keating describes centering prayer in this manner:

Centering Prayer is an effort to renew the teaching of the Christian tradition on contemplative prayer. It is an attempt to present that tradition in an up-to-date form and to put a certain order and method into it. Like the word contemplation, the term Centering Prayer has come to have a variety of meanings. For the sake of clarity it seems best to reserve the term Centering Prayer for the specific method of preparing for the gift of Contemplation and to return to the traditional term contemplative prayer when describing its development under the more direct inspiration of the Spirit.  Contemplative prayer is a process of interior transformation, a conversation initiated by God and leading, if we consent, to divine union.

View video recordings of Fr Thomas describing the centering prayer method and a discussion of how one interacts with thoughts during the prayer practice.

Contemplative Outreach Organization

The International Office of Contemplative Outreach was established to bring this ancient prayer practice out of the monastic milieu to those in contemporary society. Contemplative Outreach is now a worldwide spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to renewing the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life. The parent organization, Contemplative Outreach Ltd., serves the needs of the spiritual network from it's headquarters in Butler, NJ.  It provides written materials, video tapes and audio cassettes to its members as well as coordinating and sponsoring workshops and retreats throughout the country.  View an interesting video recording describing Contemplative Outreach and its mission.

Contemplative Outreach of Dallas

Contemplative Outreach of Dallas is part of the spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities. We are the local chapter of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd serving the needs of the Dallas metropolitan area.  Along with the individual practice of Centering Prayer, the spiritual network encourages regular small group meetings which we call Centering Prayer Groups. The Chapter is the aggregate of local Centering Prayer Groups working in collaboration with a coordinator.  While remaining autonomous, each Chapter in the spirit of networking maintains contact with the Board of Trustees of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., through the International Office.


Sandy's Biography

Sandy Guancial has a Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Ohio State University and completed a Masters degree in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Emmanuel College in Boston, MA.  In the late 80ís Sandy was invited to become a member of Contemplative Outreach in New England and participated in retreats and workshops on Contemplative Spirituality.  In 1999, she completed certification to do Spiritual Direction from the Mercy Center in Colorado.  Sandy presents workshops on Centering Prayer and the practice of Lectio Divina.  At this time she facilitates three Contemplative Prayer groups in Dallas.  Sandy is an Oblate of St. Benedict at the Forest of Peace Monastery in Sand Springs, OK.  She enjoys doing Spiritual Direction and companioning others on their journey of faith.

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