Dear Fellow Mystics,
Greetings of love and peace from Two Thomases’ Hermitage, now day 694. May our Centering Prayer practice be a source for divine strength to guide our spiritual journey.
This February newsletter is in a new format brought to you by Mailchimp. In this issue, you’ll find:
Please know that we deeply appreciate your donation in any amount to our non-profit chapter of international Contemplative Outreach. It helps us to continue providing resources and support for you. You can donate on our website here.
Love draws us closer,
We have over 30 Centering Prayer groups in our area. Most of them are meeting by Zoom. Some are having hybrid meeting combinations of in-person and Zoom. You can find our groups listed here on our website. If you wish to join a group, contact the facilitator.
Catching Up with Our Centering Prayer Groups
Some groups are sharing facilitator roles. Members rotate the role of guiding the group, choosing the material, and moderating it. This eases the burden when facilitators are ill, responsibilities intervene, travel interrupts or a break is needed. Sharing facilitator roles enriches our dialogue and insights. If your group has not tried this yet, you might find it helpful and alleviating. Working together makes our task easy.
Some groups are practicing Lectio Divina and the Welcoming Prayer in addition to Centering Prayer. Some are using icons or art as sources for a Visio Divina experience. One group is studying the Enneagram together. Many resources are available. A favorite is Fr. Thomas’ Spiritual Journey Series on YouTube. Contact me here if you would like to receive a PDF of the SJS transcripts or summaries. Our groups also find Fr. Thomas’ books Open Mind, Open Heart, Invitation to Love, Intimacy with God; Cynthia Bourgeault’s books; Richard Rohr videos; and Thomas Merton Bridges to Contemplative Living Series to be very inspiring.
Our groups have been a source of love and compassion as we share our spiritual journey together and support one another. We are thankful for our groups’ safe harbor where our mutual friendship strengthens our relationship with God as we center together.
Reflection: God’s Extravagant Love Beats Among Us
by Maggie Winfrey
Thomas Merton says that God’s love “is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.”  What does that mean? God’s love is deep in the marrow of our bones. God’s love is living intimately in every cell of our being. In every breath of air entering our lungs, in every pulse of our heart, in every thought of our mind, in every sigh of our soul, God is here, fully loving us. When we experience pain, God is with us in our pain. When we experience joy, God is overjoyed with us.
Love is here, within us, cherishing us, rooting us on, experiencing what we experience. We are not separated. We are not alone. God is with us in our most intimate self. Greg Boyle talks how his mother kept saying to him and his siblings, “You’re here!” with such joy every time she saw one of them when they came to be with her as she approached death.  This unbridled joy is the same our creator experiences with each one of us.
Thomas Keating says, “There is really no such thing as private prayer. We cannot pray at this deep level [of Centering Prayer] without inviting everyone in the human family, especially those in great need. We also feel the need to express this sense of bonding and unity with others in some form of community.”  We cannot isolate our special relationship with God from our neighbors on this planet. We are all connected. We are not only intimately part of God; we are also tied to all of our human brothers and sisters. We are not individually beloved; our creator loves each of us with the same intensity. We are each bits of the divine image, parts that make up the greater Whole. Our membership with each other is our dignity.
Mother Teresa tells the story how she brought a bag of rice to a starving Hindu family with eight children. The mother immediately measured out half of the bag and rushed to bring it to her Muslim neighbor. Mother asked her why she did that when they were clearly on the brink of starvation. The woman answered, “They are hungry too.” She had the intimate knowledge of her neighbors’ needs as well as her own. She could not accept Mother’s gift without sharing it with her neighbor.
Ubuntu is a term from South African spirituality that is essential for our spiritual education. To define it, Archbishop Mpilo Desmond Tutu teaches, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.”  He further states, “A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished.” 
Can we see our fellow humans as parts of ourselves? If we relate to God only as an individual, we are leaving out our sisters and brothers who are also equally beloved. We are all tied together as God intimately bonds us. We are all one. [John 17:21] We are the Body of Christ. [1 Corinthians 12:12] Now when we pray with our Beloved God, let’s not go alone. Let’s pray together as one. God’s love is beating in our blood, in all of us.
To explore these concepts, we of Contemplative Outreach Atlanta are pleased to join our Chicago, Colorado, and South Africa chapters in our Tutu Lenten Series of six weekly Zoom sessions on Thursdays, beginning March 3rd. This series grew out of our experience with Michael Battle’s “Releasing an Enslaved Spirit” that we co-sponsored with Chicago. This 6-week course will feature Michael Battle’s intimate knowledge of Archbishop Mpilo Desmond Tutu’s contemplative spirituality as his close friend. The course will be presented by Michael Battle and Tutu’s beloved team from the Centre for Christian Spirituality founded by Tutu,. You can register here.
 Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, New York: New Directions, 1961, 297
 Gregory Boyle, The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021, Ch. 1
 Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God, New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1994,168
 Mungi Ngomane, Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better Together, the African Way (New York: Harper Design, 2020), 13, 14
 Desmond Tutu, “The Quest for Peace,” address, Johannesburg, August 1986, quoted in Michael Battle, Ubuntu: I in You and You in Me (New York: Seabury Books, 2009), 83.Desmond Tutu, No Future without Forgiveness
Coming Online Events
February 12 8:45 am – 12:30 pm ET Zoom Introduction to Centering Prayer Workshop sponsored by Sarasota/Bradenton Contemplative Outreach. For information and registration contact Bob Ferkenhoff at firstname.lastname@example.org 941-350-6920.
February 19 – Zoom Retreat from Monastery of the Holy Spirit with Fr. Gerard. To register please call the office at 770-760-0959 Monday-Friday 8 – 1 pm ET. Donation $45.
February 20th Sunday Zoom 2 – 4 pm ET “Silence Speaking, Stillness Acting: Centering Prayer, Contemplative Petition and Unity” by David Frenette. Free, suggested donation $35
Read more and register here.
February 22nd 2022 -Sophfronia Scott will be giving the Thomas Merton Annual Black History Month lecture on at 7 pm ET. This is an in-person event. Details here.
February 26th 3rd Annual Contemplative Outreach Tampa Bay Facilitators Free Hybrid Retreat Day, 9 am – 3 pm ET Register via email here.
February 28th 4 – 5:30 pm ET Ilia Delio’s Fireside Chat “Word Made Matter.” Register here.
March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, April 7, 12:30 – 2:00 pm EST – Lenten Program with Very Rev. Dr. Michael Battle and his South African team. Tutu: Contemplative? Priest? Reconciler? Prophet? Saint? Using Desmond Tutu’s spiritual and life journey as a mirror to see God, other humans, the rest of creation, and yourself more clearly, we will deepen belief and engage in creative action for justice, reconciliation, and peace. Registration here.
March 5th – Join Contemplative Outreach Atlanta for our worldwide Zoom United in Prayer “We Are One” 11 am – 12 noon ET with Lectio Divina, Centering Prayer, Taizé chant, and a reflection from Fr. Thomas Keating. Free. Register here.
March 8th 8 pm ET Tuesdays with Merton: Gregory K. Hillis presents “What Does Thomas Merton Have to Tell Us About Catholic Identity? Register here.
In-Person March 12 Rev Dr Vincent Pizzuto hosted by Contemplative Outreach Birmingham:
“Becoming Prayer: Incarnation Makes Mystics of Us All” St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham, 9 am – 3 pm, concludes with Celtic Contemplative Eucharist . Pre-Registration $60, at the door $75, Registration link here.
March 26th Contemplative Outreach Colorado Annual Conference hosts Cynthia Bourgeault presenting Thomas Keating: The Last Thirty Years. Register here.
April 1-2 In-Person Sarasota Conference on Spirituality, Community, and Social Change about Howard Thurman. Register here.
April 9th 12:30 pm ET Network presents Racism, White Supremacy, and US Christianity with Robert P. Jones and Fr. Bryan Massingale. Register here.
Looking for a Centering Prayer group?
We are here to center with you. We support each other on our spiritual journey when we gather. Find a Centering Prayer group here. Contact the facilitator by email and prepare to be welcomed warmly. Most of our groups meet by Zoom, and some are hybrid in-person and Zoom. Members from all backgrounds are welcome.
Join the online Meditation Chapel at Contemplative Outreach Ltd. here.
Looking for resources?
Center for Action and Contemplation presents Wisdom in Times of Crisis, a free series of videos featuring all five of our core faculty and New Season of Learning How to See: Podcast Series-Brian McLaren, Jacqui Lewis and Richard Rohr- six-episode podcast series Learning How to See. Brian McLaren, Barbara Holmes, Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault, James Finley speaking here.
James Finley and others present “Turning to the Mystics: What is Lectio, Meditation, and Prayer?” podcast is very inspiring. You can hear it here as one of CAC’s programs.
How can we embody more empathy and love in these “hot mess times?” Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis returns for the second season of our podcast, Love.Period. Access her podcast of a new vision of Christianity—one with love and justice at the core of its practice—right here.
Center for Christogenesis:
- Webinar “The Entangled Planet” access link here (Password:
- Interview on "Buddha at the Gas Pump" here.
Contemplative Outreach Ltd. International: Find resources and retreats here.
- Interviews millennials on how they redefine religion in terms of an evolutionary world - her video “Why have hope for the future” here.
Encountering Silence Podcast by Carl McColman, Cassidy Hall and Kevin Johnson.
Ignatius House is open for socially-distanced retreats - information here.
Tuesdays with Merton YouTube Channel here.
Br. Elias Marechal OCSO is on YouTube. Find him here.
Fr. William Meninger on YouTube. Click here to find his many videos.
Monastery of the Holy Spirit Zoom Retreats
The Monastery has cancelled in-person retreats indefinitely due to the present Covid wave. All retreats will be on Zoom, however there are no retreats scheduled for the near future. You may visit us here. Please call the retreat house office at 770-760-0959 Mon-Fri 8:00 – 1:00. Requested donation for retreat is $45.
Group Meetings and Coordinating Team Gatherings
Some groups have socially distanced in-person Centering Prayer meetings with the option of joining by Zoom. With colder weather, most of our meetings will be by Zoom. We recommend that participants receive the Covid-19 vaccination. Check with Centering Prayer group facilitators to find out their meeting access here.
We embrace the process of transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others, through the practice of Centering Prayer. The Contemplative Outreach organization is a network of communities and individuals seeking the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit to contribute to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition through the practice of Centering Prayer.
- Vision Theological Principal 1
Be still and know that I am God.
- Ps 46:10
Silence Solitude Solidarity Service
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