Meditative prayer finds God in the silence

05/09/2014 12:20 PM

05/09/2014 12:21 PM

A Trappist monk and a principal architect of global centering prayer will bring his expertise and guidance to Rockhurst University early next month.

Father William Meninger will be in Kansas City in support of Contemplative Outreach, which practices and teaches an updated form of a very simple meditative practice dating to earlier centuries of the church.

“There is a slow but unmistakable renewal of contemplative spirituality unfolding in both Catholic and Protestant circles,” said the Rev. Rob Carr, coordinator of Contemplative Outreach in Kansas City, “a growing hunger for the depths of prayerful surrendered intimacy with the Divine in silence.”

Forty years ago at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Mass., Meninger dusted off an old book in the library that revealed this neglected dimension of prayer. Reading “The Cloud of Unknowing,” a 14th-century manual on contemplative meditation, Meninger realized the anonymous author had something valuable to share about achieving union with God while still on this earth.

“Truths about God are not themselves God,” Meninger has written. “They lead to God but are in fact, as theologians tell us, infinitely removed from God … we must go beyond the truths about God to the truth itself. 

“That is why contemplative prayer cannot be concerned with anything less than God. It is not in itself a prayer for favors, an expression of sorrow, or a petition for suffering souls. It goes beyond all of them and seeks nothing but God,” he said. “To be satisfied with anything less is to be satisfied with less than God.”

Meninger now resides at St. Benedict’s Monastery near Snowmass, Colo., spreading the contemplative movement in venues like Rockhurst University.

Carr said two options for the June 6-8 Rockhurst retreat will be offered: $195 per person for two nights of dormitory accommodations or $125 per person without lodging. In either case, meals may be purchased in the university cafeteria or off campus.

To register for the Rockhurst event, contact Carr at 816-734-8515. For more information about meditative prayer, go to


In September, Carr added, James Finley, a former monk who now is a therapist/writer on contemplative spirituality, will give a public talk at Guardian Angels Church in Westport before leading a retreat — already filled — at Mount St. Scholastica in Atchison, Kan.

“Twenty years ago, I came across Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer,” said Carr, pastor of the North Oak Christian Church, who gives workshops on the form. “It was a revelation to me, and it changed my whole perspective on prayer.”

Keating had been abbot at St. Joseph’s with Meninger and began teaching centering prayer himself, also moving to Snowmass. There, Carr spent a 10-day retreat with him in 1999 and then returned two years later for training to teach the prayer himself.

Carr described meditative prayer as “moving from conversation with Christ to communion of hearts. We enter into a silent, wordless intimacy of love with the living God. The fruits of this prayer include the gifts of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22 (“love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control”), and what we might call a way of experiencing the oneness of the human family and the whole creation.”


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