Has any diocese banned centering prayer?


I don’t want this to get into a debate over centering prayer because I know there are many threads on the subject, but since there is so much controversy over whether this type of prayer is within the Catholic tradition, has any Bishop spoken against it or banned its practice in his diocese?


No because Centering Prayer is in fact in the Catholic Tradition.

Centering prayer came out of Lectio Divina.

God Bless


Do you mean this? Why would it be a problem?:shrug:

“Centering Prayer is a method of prayer, which prepares us to receive the gift of God’s presence, traditionally called contemplative prayer. It 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 quieting our faculties to cooperate with the gift of God’s presence.

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. At the same time, it is a discipline to foster and serve this relationship by a regular, daily practice of prayer. It is Trinitarian in its source, Christ-centered in its focus, and ecclesial in its effects; that is, it builds communities of faith.

Centering Prayer is drawn from ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, Lectio Divina, (praying the scriptures), The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa 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 the Trappist Abbey, St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts.”

or this from New Advent:

"Finally, attention is of the very essence of prayer. As an expression of sentiment emanating from our intellectual faculties prayer requires their application, i.e. attention. As soon as this attention ceases, prayer ceases. To begin praying and allow the mind to be wholly diverted or distracted to some other occupation or thought necessarily terminates the prayer, which is resumed only when the mind is withdrawn from the object of distraction…"


Because I’ve heard very strong feelings on both sides - that it** is i**n the Christian tradition and it isn’t. Some say it’s similar to Lectio Divina, other say it’s a blend of New Age practices. Due to the strong feelings on both sides of the issue, I was just wondering if any Bishop has come out and spoken publicly on it.

Like I said - I don’t want to get into another Centering Prayer debate - the number of threads on CP on this forum is probably a testament to how controversial it is so I didn’t think my question was all that “out there”!


Let’s say for sake of argument that CP is a new age practice. Does that mean it is anti - Catholic? I am just asking in order to learn. :slight_smile:

I never imagined that the Church would refuse efficient or effective ways of concentrating on prayer. I don’t understand what the critics have to criticize except that it might be new. :confused:

Perhaps someone can explain this to me. :shrug:


Unless you are defining centering prayer differently the attached Catholic Answers article says it is NOT compatible with the Catholic tradition and can be dangerous.



There really seem to be a deep divide among Catholics over this issue. And as you indicated, there does not seem to be a real definition of what CP is or is not. At least it is not clear to me. :shrug:

I think Catholics should stay away from any organization that promotes CP, (see the first link in the my previous post) especially if the organization wants money for you to attend the course.

Instructions on how to develop good concentration are available for free on the Internet. You don’t need to pay money for a “centered prayer” course. What ever that is. .:wink:


no it did not, it came out of trying to use methods of Eastern non-Christian meditation, specifically methods for inducing a trance-like state, along with Lectio or othe Christian prayer methods, and calls it contemplation when it is not. these Eastern methods are the antithesis of Christian mysticism.

the several older threads on this topic have exhaustive debate and links for orthodox view of CP, and also search on the old TR issues on the homepage for good stuff.


Once again, this is false information presented by the critics of Centering Prayer, who present misinformation on it.

There is no trance like state in Centering Prayer. Anyone who says it is so, is not telling the truth or they’re doing something other than Centering Prayer.

Centering Prayer’s relation to Eastern Religion is no different than the same fact that Eastern Religions also use Rosary Beads, yet the Catholic Rosary and those in the East, are not the same.

Father Keating and Father Basil Penington, both trappist monks, brought the teaching on Centering Prayer to the laity. They are the one’s who brought the method called Centering Prayer, to the world, yet the critics, especially those presented in here, have never spoken with Father Keating about Centering Prayer. Instead, they bases their knowledge on New Age People, who use Centering Prayer, but also teach an distorted doctrine on it. Such people also use the Catholic Mass, and I have seen fundamentalist say this is why the Catholic Mass is heretical. But of course we know this is false.

Instead of listening to such people, why not go to Father Keating, the originator himself, and see what he teaches about it?

Intimacy with God
by Fr. Thomas Keating

The Theological Basis of Centering Prayer
Chapter 3

Where does Centering Prayer come from? Its source is the Trinity dwelling within us. It is rooted in God’s life within us. I don’t think that we reflect about this truth nearly enough. With baptism comes the entire uncreated presence of the most holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We participate as human beings in God’s life just by being alive, but much more through grace. We participate in the movement between the Father giving himself totally to the Son, and the Son giving himself totally to the Father. They empty themselves into each other. The Spirit of Love reconstitutes them, so to speak, so that they can keep surrendering forever. This stream of divine love that is constantly renewed in the life of the Trinity is infused into us through grace. We know this by our desire for God. That desire, however it may be battered by the forces of daily life, manifests itself in the effort that we make to develop a life of prayer and a life of action that is penetrated by prayer.

We know that Lectio Divina and our other devotional practices prepare us to relate to Christ. We go through a certain evolutionary process of acquaintanceship, friendliness, and friendship. The last implies a commitment to the relationship. Everyone knows very well the experience where we relate to an acquaintance whom we cultivate and get to know and gradually reach a place of commitment to him or her. Commitment is what characterizes friendship. We can walk away from casual acquaintances, but we cannot walk away from friendship once it has been established without breaking somebody’s heart, including our own. Friendship with Christ has reached commitment when we decide to establish a life of prayer and a program for daily life tailored to getting closer to Christ and deeper into the Trinitarian life of love.

The entire text of Intimacy With God is on line here, as well as other books by Father Keating and the true teaching behind Centering Prayer.



Anything else that you get other than from Father Keating, especially from the critics, is usually fraudulent.

In Christ Jesus


Catholic Answers is incorrect on their assement of the teaching of Centering Prayer, by Father Keating and the late Father Basil Pennington.

I was disappointed in this article by CA especially in the fact that they never interviewed either Father Keating or Father Pennington. Of course Father Pennington was killed in a car crash a few years ago.



Centering Prayer comes from Lectio Divina, according to Fr Keating.

This monastic way of doing Lectio Divina always begins with prayer to the Holy Spirit. The four moments along the circumference of the circle are reading in the presence of God, reflecting in the sense of ruminating (not in the sense of discursive meditation), responding with spontaneous prayer, and resting in God beyond thoughts and particular acts of the will.

By “ruminating” I mean sitting with a sentence, phrase or even one word that emerges from the text, allowing the Spirit to expand our listening capacity and to open us to its deeper meaning; in other words, to penetrate the spiritual sense of a scripture passage. This leads to the faith experience of the living Christ and increases the practical love for others that flows from that relationship.

As we repeat the phrase or sentence slowly, over and over, a deeper insight may arise. For example, take the words of Jesus, “I will not call you servants but friends.” All of a sudden, it might dawn on us what it means to be a friend of Christ. Our awareness expands without our having done anything but allow the Spirit to act. It is a heart-to-heart exchange with Christ. We think the text but we do not think about the text. If we are thinking in the sense of reflecting, we are dominating the conversation. That can be done fruitfully some other time. Here it is a question of receiving and resting in Christ’s presence as the source of the word or phrase. centeringprayer.com/lectio/lectio.htm

This is the base of where Centering Prayer comes from. Lectio Divina was practiced by Father Keating and Basil Pennington, long before Vatican II. Father Keating has been a Trappist Monk for about 60 years. Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, asked Catholics, especially those in monastic orders, to begin dialog with the religions of the East, because there was a strong movement of young Catholics, who were leaving the Church and becoming involved with Buddhism, Hinduism, ETC. When Fathers Merton, Keating and Pennington, becaue this dialog and began to learn about the Eastern religions and in particular, meditation, they immediately saw the similarity to the meditation portion in Lectio Divina. Now, they wanted to present to the Church, a way of doing the meditation that is done in Lectio Divina, that was simple and understandable for lay people. They called it Centering Prayer.



Is the publication * Catholic Answers * an unreliable organization? By this I mean, do they espouse a POV and omit or take statements out of context in order to support that view? The comments on East Asian Concentration Meditation are, to put it gently, not quite “accurate”. It appears from your comments that they have a similar problem with accuracy when it comes to CP.

I am not trying to criticize or start a fight, but I do want to become familiar with publications that are meticulous in their research on topics and conform to both the teachings and the spirit of the teachings of the Catholic Church. In other words if this publication has an agenda, it should not be hidden. :wink:



Catholic Answers in general is reliable organization. This article on CP is however, misleading and no, they did not interview Father Keating. Also, keep in mind CA articles are from those with a conservative perspective, and their bias slips through.



This seems like a case of it depending on the source. If Fr. Corapi for instance talks about prayer and describes it in centering terms, bank on it. If your fluffy RCIA director with her story-sticks, massage-parlor music, and references to historical examples of female priests talks about it–run far away. :slight_smile:


According to our current Pope centering prayer is an “erroneous” form of prayer:confused:
Centering Prayer Meets the Vatican

Last December 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. Both have backgrounds in Eastern meditation methods and cite those experiences favorably as instructive for today’s Christians. Early in the document the author, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, describes how the church Fathers combated early “errors” that affected the way Christians thought about prayer. He says, “Such erroneous forms, having reappeared in history from time to time on the fingers of the church’s prayer, seem once more [today] to impress many Christians, appealing to them as a kind of remedy, be it psychological or spiritual, or as a quick way of finding God.”

Of course we all know Ratzinger’s intellect and understanding of spirtuality is inferior to Merton, Keating and Pennington:rolleyes:
Some aspects of Christian Meditation

  1. With the present diffusion of eastern methods of meditation in the Christian world and in ecclesial communities, we find ourselves faced with a pointed renewal of an attempt, which is not free from dangers and errors, “to fuse Christian meditation with that which is non-Christian.” Proposals in this direction are numerous and radical to a greater or lesser extent. Some use eastern methods solely as a psycho-physical preparation for a truly Christian contemplation; others go further and, using different techniques, try to generate spiritual experiences similar to those described in the writings of certain Catholic mystics.13 Still others do not hesitate to place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory, 14 on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality. To this end, they make use of a “negative theology,” which transcends every affirmation seeking to express what God is, and denies that the things of this world can offer traces of the infinity of God. Thus they propose abandoning not only meditation on the salvific works accomplished in history by the God of the Old and New Covenant, but also the very idea of the One and Triune God, who is Love, in favor of an immersion "in the indeterminate abyss of the divinity."15 These and similar proposals to harmonize Christian meditation with eastern techniques need to have their contents and methods ever subjected to a thorough-going examination so as to avoid the danger of falling into syncretism.

A Closer Look at Centering Prayer

The Danger of Centering Prayer

**How can a Bishop Ban prayer even if it is an “erroneous” form? That is like forbidding thought.:shrug: **
The Bishop of Rome (two of them) has given warnings about it, what more does a person need to hear?


Unlike yours:rolleyes:


The Pope never speaks about Centering Prayer, but your biased article erroneously links what the Pope said to Centering Prayer.

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,

This is the author’s opinion which of course is inaccurate.

Once again, this nothing more than misinformation from extreme conservative point of view that you continually use to distort what Centering Prayer actually is.



Sheesh…here we go again with the bashing based on second-hand information by people with agendas. Always knowing what’s best for everyone else in the world and ready to condemn whatever doesn’t suit their own particular preference.


I can tell you that I’ve been using Fr. Keating’s techniques for years and they have been one of the most beneficial practices I have encountered.

Centering prayer is no different than sitting at Adoration. Or praying the rosary. It is purely and simply a way to place one’s self in God’s presence and allow the “still, small voice” to be heard.

This fixation that something is wrong if someone ever talked to a Buddhist or found something of value in someone else’s spiritual practices is absurd. If you don’t like it, don’t do it! But PLEASE stop telling me that a valuable prayer tool that originated with the desert Fathers is “evil”. Balderdash!


For those interested in actually learning about Centering Prayer, read about it from the founder, (and who would know more bout it than him?) Father Thomas Keating. Go to here;


Anything else you read will be from biased opinions, and not based on facts.

I don’t need to say anything more on it.



You seem to get most of it notself,:thumbsup: We need to have a talk over :coffee:coffee sometime. i.e. Catholic - Buddhist diologue:)

The link in this thread about Centering prayer - Contemplative Outreach - is a very troubling resource for Catholics. Note the excerpt from Catholic Culture’s review of the web site.

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). MORE

The web site is considered New Age Catholicism. Of course I’m very bias:rolleyes: For I believe that all a Catholic needs can be found in Christ and His Church.:slight_smile:

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