Assist please: Centering/theophostic prayer

I need some information on centering/theophostic prayer. I have no idea of the origins and don’t know what the true source of them are. There seems to be a growing “fad” in our diocese in this regard and it is becoming all the rage. What is it, who is behind it and can it be harmful?

If you look around the Feb 1 postings on this forum there is discussion on centering prayer. Just look further down on the spirituality forum.

yes I noticed. there is no mention of theophostic prayer that I can tell though.

[quote=Chardin]yes I noticed. there is no mention of theophostic prayer that I can tell though.
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Could it be theosophic? If so, Theosophy is a satanic cult started in the 19th century by British bores in India. Run as fast as you can from it.

It wouldn’t surprise me that Centering Prayer would be found with such company, as both share gnostic roots.

Just stick to what’s proven. A novelty of the 20th century with no saints to attest to it is no substitute for age-old practices.

:blessyou:

According to EWTN.com, “The Catholic Church has not made any official pronouncements about Theophostic ministries. The organization is nondenominational Protestant.”

Theophostic Prayer Ministry is an approach to inner healing or healing of memories. It is a for profit business that was founded in 1996 by Ed Smith and is headquartered in Campbellsville, KY. Smith holds a doctorate in pastoral ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After serving for 17 years as a Southern Baptist pastor, he embarked on a full-time counseling practice.

Once Smith began to invite Jesus into his sessions, Theophostic Prayer Ministry was born. Theophostic is derived from two Greek words that together mean “the light of God.”

[quote=cluckey]According to EWTN.com, “The Catholic Church has not made any official pronouncements about Theophostic ministries. The organization is nondenominational Protestant.”

Theophostic Prayer Ministry is an approach to inner healing or healing of memories. It is a for profit business that was founded in 1996 by Ed Smith and is headquartered in Campbellsville, KY. Smith holds a doctorate in pastoral ministry from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a master’s degree in education from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After serving for 17 years as a Southern Baptist pastor, he embarked on a full-time counseling practice.

Once Smith began to invite Jesus into his sessions, Theophostic Prayer Ministry was born. Theophostic is derived from two Greek words that together mean “the light of God.”
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Thank you for the information. I’ve never heard of this sort of prayer before but it sounds interesting. I don’t know much about Baptists except for one coworker who was Baptist, so I don’t know how their beliefs compare to ours.

Alan

[quote=Chardin]I need some information on centering/theophostic prayer. I have no idea of the origins and don’t know what the true source of them are. There seems to be a growing “fad” in our diocese in this regard and it is becoming all the rage. What is it, who is behind it and can it be harmful?
[/quote]

I don’t know about “theophostic” prayer, but centering prayer has its origins in Eastern religion (Hinduism). Catholic Answers website has an article, *The Danger of Centering Prayer *by Father John Dreher that explains the history, the method and the spiritual danger of centering prayer

[quote=Veritas41]I don’t know about “theophostic” prayer, but centering prayer has its origins in Eastern religion (Hinduism). Catholic Answers website has an article, *The Danger of Centering Prayer *by Father John Dreher that explains the history, the method and the spiritual danger of centering prayer
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As much as I love CA, I was disappointed in this article. It repeats many of the things some authors have said about centering prayer which are simply not the case – as those who have actually practiced the prayer would understand.

Contemplation itself is a simple gift from God. Theories about contemplation are complicated and scholarly, and frankly one cannot grasp the concept of mysticism when one views it from a truly scholarly and not an experiential point of view.

In other threads, I have gone through Fr. Dreher’s article in detail and pointed out the problems with it. I wish not to do so again, because these items are at times distinctions apparently too subtle dor non-practitioners to discuss effectively at an apologetic level. Other people have a problem with the idea that anything could be added post-Vatican, and although CP is new, it draws on ancient practices of the mystics and for crying out loud, a lot of people essentially “do it” anyway if they sit quietly before the Eucharist. Centering prayer isn’t so much something you do, as a method to dispose ourselves to invite God into our lives.

Let me assure you, there is nothing hocus-pocus black magic about the process, it is not a “shortcut to divinity,” it is not as some have called it a way to circumvent God when in fact, contrary to petition prayer it simply invites God rather than presume to tell Him what to do. After many articles I’ve read on CP, one is left with a spooky feeling that there are clandestine Catholics who, along with their spiritual directors, are going into a room with a ouija board or something. It’s pretty surprising how much one can feel an attack against one’s own devotion in the Catholic Church by other Catholics, and it feels exactly like Protestants who talk about the Church using partial information but no experience at being Catholic.

Instead of reading what people who don’t practice the prayer say about it, why not go to the horse’s mouth, so to speak, and read about centering prayer from its authors, (author, since the death of Basil Pennington) at contemplativeoutreach.org?

If you read an article and think it casts CP in a “spooky” or “scary” light, then I can demonstrate how any Catholic devotion can be described in such a way that it sounds new age, scary and spooky. I did a mediocre job of it on another thread this month, and stand ready to do it again if people can’t understand the concept that there are apparently factions within the Church, of people who think their devotions are greater than the ones others use and find strange surface interpretations of what they do not understand to back them up.

If you’re not called to centering prayer, that’s fine. Not everybody is, just like not everybody is called to Eucharistic adoration, or to do a daily Rosary. Please do not make the mistake of propagating misinformation about it, for that serves nobody – including CP detractors. If something were actually dangerous about it, one would have to find it through all the false claims about it.

I was talking to a non-CP practicing diocesan priest about Fr. Keating. The priest knew little about Fr. Keating but he’s heard of him, and even slightly winced. Apparently Keating sends a lot of solicitations for contributions, some to the religious. It occurred to me this might the first reaction some get of Keating is, “oh well is he asking for money again,” and their perceptions were forever colored? This is pure speculation but at least it gives me some idea what it might be that causes such a widespread concern among non-cloistered priests.

Alan

[quote=AlanFromWichita]As much as I love CA, I was disappointed in this article. It repeats many of the things some authors have said about centering prayer which are simply not the case – as those who have actually practiced the prayer would understand.

Alan
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Alan, I also read *Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of LIfe, *which is an official Vatican document addressing the New Age. It doesn’t address centering prayer by name, but in the section “Christian and New Age Mysticism”, the technique of centering prayer is addressed. I found Father Dreher’s article about centering prayer to reflect what the Vatican document said about it.

I don’t think Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life has much to do with centering prayer. It seems concerned with spiritualities which try to eliminate the dialogue between God and individual humans. Specifically it condemns

The techniques and methods offered in this immanentist religious system, which has no concept of God as person, proceed ‘from below’. Although they involve a descent into the depths of one’s own heart or soul, they constitute an essentially human enterprise on the part of a person who seeks to rise towards divinity by his or her own efforts

It goes on to say

Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love, one which “implies an attitude of conversion, a flight from ‘self’ to the ‘You’ of God”

I think what is being criticized is a spirituality that conflates God and human awareness - a spirituality which does not recognize that God is a separate person from us.

But…

Centering Prayer facilitates the movement from more active modes of prayer — verbal, mental or affective prayer — into a receptive prayer of resting in God. It emphasizes prayer as a personal relationship with God…

contemplativeoutreach.org/cntrgpryr.htm
I think Centering Prayer, as described above, is very different from what is being criticized in Jesus Christ: The Bearer of the Water of Life. Centering prayer involves a relationship between God and us, not the elimination of our separate identities.

I am not sure where the confusion is coming from. Perhaps some of the people who teach Centering Prayer don’t have a good understanding of it?

I am much more uncomfortable with the idea of Theophostic Prayer, which seems an attempt to combine psychological therapy with prayer.

The technique of centering prayer is adopted from Hinduism/Transcendental Meditation, which does not teach existence of a personal God we can know and love. The whole idea of using this technique is to access or tap into this impersonal god who is part of all things, including us.

What I’ve read about contemplative prayer is that it happens as a result of the pursuit of holiness and desire for God and that God is the One who takes the initiative in this. Centering prayer seems, from what I can tell, to make us reach closeness to God with mere technique, and that’s what my understanding of *Jesus Christ, Bearer of the Water of Life *tells me: technique isn’t the same as contemplation.

I think this sums it up magnificently! My understanding is that CP is a method to “center” on God, using a sacred word, keeping the spirit in quietude, anticipating that the result will be a manifestation, possibly, of God Himself.

So in this context, it is a “methodology” rather than a response of pure love, by which the Lord is captivated. I’m thinking of Jn. 14:21, where Jesus tells us that “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. But he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

CP does not give any direction about the purity of heart (which shall see God) that keeps His commandments through love. It almost implies that this method is the best way to approach God, rather than through a loving heart completely devoted to the Lord.

I believe that God will “manifest” Himself to a person in accordance with the above scripture, whether or not the person practices methods of centering as a means of quieting the intellect. I have a difficult time believing that purely “centering” without the practice of love and keeping God’s holy words, will effect anything supernatural. There may be some natural consequences of the quieting practice akin to eastern mysticism, but I have to wonder what is really being experienced.

However, if a person is walking in the spiritual sense of the above scripture verse, and then tries to focus on God with a prayerful centering method, I am not one to say with certainty that it would not be beneficial.

My main argument is that a person who is not motivated by love flowing from an attitude of conversion and tries CP as a result of a chance encounter from various media, he is likely to go astray, either through pride or through misinformation.

Carole

You sit quietly .
You utter a prayer of a couple of syllables in the same rhythm as you breathe.
You focus on the prayer.
You let God do whatever He wants or doesn’t want.
15-30 minutes later you go back to doing whatever you go back to doing.

It is praying, since you say prayers.
Not your cup of tea ? Fine, don’t do it.

If it seems to help you continue to do it. and you don’t pay any attention to people who say you shouldn’t do it.
Just like you brush off distractions during the prayer. They are of no importance. .

Alan,

I beg your pardon, but whenever the subject of CP shows up you seem to equate CP with contemplation and go about defending contemplation, as though it, instad of CP, had been objected to.

:blessyou:

My understanding of Theophostic prayer is that it has its origins in the Psychological process - Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT. CBT works on the basis of challenging a clients irrational beliefs :ie “I never do anything right” etc. which lie dormant in our unconsious mind and can control our thinking and behaviour.

I understand that Theophostic prayer uses this technique to bring to the conscious mind, sin, and this is done in a prayerful setting invoking the Holy Spirit.

I know no more and I am not a supporter of it.

Luke

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