First…“centering prayer” is not “taught” by the CC…it is not in the Catechism (CCC).
Second, which of the saints (anyone of those whom the Church has officially declared are in Heaven in the Beatific vision by their canonization)…teaches “centering prayer”?..not one that I have ever heard of or read about.
Third…read what Father Thomas Dubay SM…(one of the very best spiritual directors and retreat masters in the Universal Church today)…says (emphasis all mine) about centering prayer in his book Prayer Primer (Ignatius Press).
“10. Scripture says not a word about techniques for prayer, not a word about the oriental or centering ways to empty the mind. Rather our Christian meditation aims at filling our minds and hearts with pondering God’s word in the books of creation and revelation…lead the beginner to something better, namely, to drinking the goodness and beauty of God in a wordless way.” (pg 73)
Here is the “non-sugarcoated” answer by Father Dubay:
9. "What do you think of centering prayer? It has been widely promoted and also attacked. Do you thing it is helpful?"
The simple answer to your question is** No**. ** I do not.** Rather it is** more of a hindrance****…first**…one should** beware of techniques for emptying the mind** to prepare it for contemplation. This is** unnatural**. Our minds are made to be filled, not emptied. Nowehere does Scripture advise this. Rather the beginner is told to fill his mind by pondering the word of God day and night (Ps 1: 1-2). … Secondly, it is an illusion to think that techniques can produce immersion in God. He is not one to be manipulated…And** thirdly**, emptying methods can** frustrate** both the **beginner who needs input on which to reflect **and the advanced person ho needs freedom from human efforts to be able to receive the light and love God wishes to communicate." (pgs 155-156)
God bless those who teach and think that centering prayer is “good” and “helpful”…but even without Father Dubay’s wise counsel…my gut is always suspicious of the “gnostic approachs” to “problems”…i.e., we have found a new secret that solves your personal inadequacies.
I am a believer in “spiritual progress” that requires more “heavy lifting” and “discipline” (e.g., a firmer resolve to be obedient to Holy Spirit’s quiet but clear inspirations for me to be more faithful/loving to God, my neighbor and my vocation (husband/father)…to be more obedient to my Bishop and the all of the Church’s teachings (on faith and morals)…to fight my sinfulness especially the sins I make excuses for or dismiss as just my personality or style… to spend more time praying and reading/studying the saints…and especially more time on my knees (in Confession and at Holy Mass/Holy Eucharist) begging God for his mercy and the graces for healing and conversion.
Or as we say in the Marine Corps (now retired) when exercising and training…"***…pain is just a sign of weakness leaving your body***"…I really believe that there is a significant parallel to to this axiom in our spiritual journey…with Christ…to the Father!