I’ve read the threads on CAF re: centering prayer - from what I can gather contemplative prayer is a gift from God given to pious souls, and centering prayer can open a soul to diabolical forces. Please can someone tell me if the following website encourages contemplative or centering prayer?

Fathers Keating, Pennington and Meninger from Spencer Abbey are the Centering Prayer folks you hear discussed all the time on this forum. This site looks to be about Fr. Meninger. As you can see, they tend to use the term “contemplation” and “centering prayer” interchangably.

My personal opinion - and you’re sure to get a bunch - is to start with Fr. Dubay (Fire Within) to get a good overview of what contemplative prayer is . . . and is not. This book will lead you through the teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila . . . the *two Doctors *the Church has given us explicitly for mystical prayer. Only after laying that foundation would I venture into the centering prayer arena.


I second what DBT has said.

Fr Dubay also has some audio programs from EWTN that can be downloaded for free. If you are an audio learner, you might find these as helpful as his books:

Bedrock Basics - if you have a good foundation, it’s harder to go wrong later on

Prayer Quest - gain a deeper understanding of contemplative prayer

St John of the Cross: The Great Exchange -
Fr. Thomas Dubay provides insight into the writings of St. John of the Cross, founder of the discalced Carmelite Order. Declared a Doctor of the Church and one of its greatest mystics, he authored many spiritual classics including “Dark Night of the Soul”.

Teresa of Avila: Personality & Prayer -
Father Thomas Dubay examines the spirituality of Teresa of Avila, discussing the personality, spiritual revelation and contributions of this great doctor of the Church.


and if dubay’s Fire Within book is too heavy at first, read his Prayer Primer book first, or some of his others like Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer.
he’s a great author, authority on this stuff.

5 stars for Fire Within though, incredible read

God Bless,

I just finished listening to some of the links that Urban gave, and I doubt the first will answer Derek’s question, though it is a practical series.

The most helpful information that I found was talk #10, Teresa of Avila on Contemplation in Urban’s second link. Father spoke of the difference between true contemplation and oriental awareness (Zen Buddhism) in the second half of the talk.

Many thanks folks - I will definitely take your advice, will let you know how I get on.

God bless CAF and their users!

Are Fr’s Keating, Pennington and Meninger teaching according the latest Church position on contemplative prayer?

Or should I look elsewhere?

Are Fr’s Keating, Pennington and Meninger teaching according the latest Church position on contemplative prayer?

Yes, very much so,

Or should I look elsewhere?

There are other sources, such as Father Dubay, which is good, but I prefer Fr. Keating. Fr. Keating is more in depth as far as teaching contemplation and means of moving towards it. Father Dubay get’s more into explaining St.Teresa and St. John of the Cross.

That being said, you can’t go wrong with Dubay, Keating, or Pennington. I’ve read all three and you’ll get something from all of them.


Thats great Jim thanks

“Finding the Mystic Within You” by Peggy Wilkinson, O.C.D.S is also very good.
I read the “Fire Within” first.
Then I read this book per recommendation from Blessedstar on this forum.
It is very helpful. It is a good handbook about contemplation.

No, they’re doing syncretism:

Stick to the tried and true and inspired and holly.


Agreed! I just finished reading Peggy WIlkinson’s “Finding the Mystic Within You,” a couple months ago.

My OCDS group used Peggy’s “Formation Syllabus,” for our formation group.


Another misleading puritanical post. I wonder why the people who write such stuff, never talk with Father Keating?

You folks must’ve swallowed your tongues when Pope John Paul II, said all religions have germs of truth, and when he embraced the Dali Lama?


Please see below the review of Fr. Keatings website by

Contemplative Outreach defines itself as “a spiritual network of individuals and small faith communities committed to living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in everyday life through the practice of Centering Prayer. . . . We identify with the Christian Contemplative Heritage . . . and affirm our solidarity with the contemplative dimension of other religions and sacred traditions, with the needs and rights of the whole human family, and with all creation.”

Fr. Thomas Keating is a monk, priest, and abbot, and is the founder of the Centering Prayer movement. It originated in St. Joseph’s Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961-1981) when Keating was abbot, St. Joseph’s held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives. Keating went even further by inviting a Zen master to give a week-long retreat to the monks.

Centering prayer is not compatible with Catholic tradition; its techniques are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith warned about the dangers of blending Christian prayer and Eastern methods of meditation (e.g., Zen, Transcendental Meditation and yoga). Although Some Aspects of Christian Meditation does not single out any persons or schools of thought by name, many of its warnings apply to the centering-prayer literature, including the writings of Abbot Keating and his spiritual disciple Father Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O.

The Vatican also released the document called Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life. It specifically identifies the following as New Age: Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Yoga, Enneagram, Wicca, the Higher Self, the True Self, ALC’s, the “god within,” and TM (Transcendental Meditation.)

The similarities between centering prayer and Transcendental Meditation are striking. “As an ex-TM mediator,” says Fr. Finbarr Flanagan, O.F.M., “I find it hard to see any differences between centering prayer and Transcendental Meditation.” Frs. Keating, Menninger, and Pennington authored centering prayer at a time when St. Joseph Abbey had received several retreats involving Eastern religions, including Transcendental Meditation. I cited Fr. Pennington’s praise for the Hindu guru and author of Transcendental Meditation. This involvement in eclecticism has continued. Fr. Pennington has not just attended an e.s.t (Erhard Sensitivity Training) session but has served on its board. Frs. Keating and Pennington gave endorsements, appearing on the dust jacket, for Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. The tarot is a deck of cards used in fortune telling. Fr. Keating calls the book “the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition.” Fr. Pennington says it is “without doubt the most extraordinary work I have ever read.” Amity House, the publisher, is heavily New Age. The Library of Congress has classified the book under “occult sciences” and “cartomancy.”

Definitely stick to the teachings on prayer in the Catechism and by those such as Fr. Thomas Dubay who doesn’t stray from the teachings of the Church.

God Bless

Sorry deekod, I just saw your question.

Well Fr. Keating et al. certainly represent of school of thought on contemplative prayer in the Church today. Whether or not they’re in line with Church teaching is probably in the eye of the beholder . . . as you have seen on your thread.

While I have benefited from their teaching in certain ways, I do think they deviate from what the saints teach in a very specific way. Specifically I’m thinking of the propensity in CP circles to apply their approach to prayer to all people regardless of their spiritual readiness for such things. This has been debated to death in the current Centering Prayer thread so I won’t try and re-hash all the details.

Personally I think it’s best to stick with the gold standard: the two Doctors the Church has given us on mystical prayer - Sts Teresa and John. I mentioned earlier, Father Dubay is a leading expert on our Carmelite saints . . . and “Fire Within” gives a very good overview to their teaching. From there, if you find your interest piqued, I’d move on to St. Teresa - perhaps starting with her “Life” and “Way of Perfection” and possibly “Interior Castle.” With St. John, I’d start with the “Ascent of Mt. Carmel” then “Spiritual Canticle.”

And only after developing a solid grounding in these two masters - the only two the Church holds up as having no hint of error - would I move on to the Centering Prayer texts. The Centering Prayer folks tell part of the story . . . but not the whole story. And those souls who stick only to Centering Prayer texts and don’t delve into the writings of the masters (as is far to common on these forums) miss out on much of the incredible richness our Church has to offer.

Hope this helps . . .


Stick to the tried and true and inspired and holly.Another misleading puritanical post. I wonder why the people who write such stuff, never talk with Father Keating?

You folks must’ve swallowed your tongues when Pope John Paul II, said all religions have germs of truth, and when he embraced the Dali Lama?


All religions have germs of truth, I agree, but many of them have bucketloads of false teachings along with it - and no one wants that. Only the Catholic Church teaches 100% truth on matters of faith and morals.

Oh and I’ve got no problem with the pope giving someone a hug. Why make a big fanfare out of it as if you’re making a point?

I’ve never seen anyone hurt by sticking to the tried and true and inspired and holy. (PS, the way holy was spelt made me think of Christmas trees (-: Hope it comes soon)

That being said, someone asking about centering prayer is wanting to seek beyond the tried and true to see if they can find anything else that is good - so while advising him to stick to the tried and true is not bad advice, it’s not that relevant to the thread imho. (Not having a go at you Augustine, I’m just thinking something like ‘centering prayer is dangerous for these reasons… but, since you want to try unusual things, here is an odd / not commonly practiced prayer that is actually spritiually beneficial’ would be a better sort of thing to post considering the subject matter of the thread. Not that I know of any unusual prayers, don’t know whether you know of any that are good or not).

I’ve got no idea who Fr. Keating is or what he is like but imho a priest who doesn’t have anyone to back him up is not as reliable as someone posting in a This Rock magazine. So, I’m more inclined to believe that in fact centering prayer is dangerous. I guess the OP has to look at what’s been posted for himself and decide who to trust?

Like the Church Doctors who emphasized Gospel living, and purification, CP also talks about call to holiness, purification and self surrender, etc…

In Keating’s book “Intimacy With God”, it clearly said CP “is not contemplation in the strict sense…but rather it is a preparation for contemplation”. (p.11)
And this preparation can be practiced by starting with a sacred word, consent with God and rest in God…….CP “is not a concentrative practice, nor an exercise of attention. It is an exercise of intention.” (p. 57)

There is a major difference between CP’s using sacred word and oriental Zen meditation. CP is Christ centered. It is to wait upon God with loving attentiveness. Zen practice is to empty one’s mind, putting oneself in a void state which is very dangerous.

“Fire Within” definitely is a much profound spirituality reading. However, I don’t see conflict between CP and the classics. CP’s foundation is from the classics.

Personally,I think practicing Lectio Divina in front the tabernacle is the best place to start. Instead of using a sacred word, Lectio Divina dwells on a biblical text as means of seeking communion with Christ. Lectio Divinia has four parts: reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation. The last part, of course is infused. Pray Lectio Divina in Eucharist Adoration definitely receives extra grace.

If we make all the efforts to live a Gospel living, to strive for holiness, to pick up our cross and walk closer with Christ, to launch to the deeper, then the infused prayer may one day come when God sees we are ready. Rosary is a good prayer to be used for Lectio Divina.

Hi All,

My Priest, has given me some ignation type excercises. I read a section of the bible, usually 3 times.

Then I picture it (visualize) it in my mind. Making my self one of the characters and watch the story unfold. After this, I can speak to Jesus, or see what happens. It is quite surprising what happens to me sometimes, the results are not what you’d expect at all. It has brought me close to God, and helped me pray through some difficulties I have had. But I am worried it is not ‘right’ in some way, especially after reading some ‘Blaze Ministries’ stuff, but feel if it is Jesuit then it should be ok.

Does the Church support this type of visualization?

What you describe is what the meditation we usually do, visualizing. It is perfectly fine. What is “Blaze Ministries”? Is that Catholic?

LOL, sorry I just had a look at blaze ministires and it’s definitly not Catholic!

I mean Flame Ministries International…

looking closer it says they’re a
neo-pentecostal lay preaching organisation of the Catholic church.

Which is not my flavor of stuff, just kinda scary really, I feel better. This morning my meditation was on Luke 7, the messengers from John the Baptist.

Quite topical, they say to him: “are you the one or should we expect another” and He replies "tell John what you’ve seen, the blind see, the lame walk, …etc.

I think if it leads you closer to God, it must be good.


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