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eNews October 2022

We embrace the process of transformation in Christ, both in ourselves and in others, through the practice of Centering Prayer.

Holy Humility, Holy Emptiness,
I bow my head before you
I have become nothing,
For your All to shine in my soul.

Beverly Lanzetta, excerpted from “Canticle of Praise,” A Feast of Prayers

From Victoria's Desk
Greetings Friends,

We share a profound knowledge that our God of Silence knows our hearts, beyond our thoughts, words, or emotions.  As we prepare for the season of “gift” awareness, I wish to share with you, and ask you to ponder with me, what a gift Centering Prayer has been in your live, and how you might "gift wrap" this prayer to present to others. 

I invite you to share with me in a few words what Centering Prayer means for you. For me, Centering Prayer is my anchor. We will share your words in the next newsletter. Your words will be a guide as we seek to release our “Retreat Schedule” for 2023 [Mark your calendars for our Spring Retreat: April 14/15]

You can send your words, or any questions or comments you have, to me at [email protected]

COP News
  • Our Service Team is in the process of providing you with a new website (same address), along with this new eNews format. Bear with us as we seek to improve our communication with you!
  • I was recently invited and presented Centering Prayer at Duquesne University for a Freshman Psychology and Theology class of 10 students.  It was a challenge for me; talking to the 18- and 19-year-old students. Clearly their spiritual backgrounds varied, yet they all possessed an alert receptivity. Their course content of comparing Buddhism and Christianity with their rich histories of contemplative practices prepared them to the experience of their first 20-minute Centering Prayer practice during the class.  My faith in our 14th Theological Principle surrenders to the Holy Spirit that their seeking will lead them to the gift of contemplation.
  • Last month I gave a short presentation about Centering Prayer to "Awaken Pittsburgh", a secular organization that teaches evidence-based practices of mindfulness and meditation with the goal of fostering "well-being, empathy, and compassion for all". You can check out their webpage HERE
Upcoming Events and Retreats
Bethany Retreat Center

December 2-4:  Advent Centering Prayer Weekend Retreat: "Bridges to Contemplative Living with Thomas Merton: Adjusting your Life’s Vision"

January 17-19: "Introduction to Centering prayer"
  • Snow Make-up date: February 10 - 12
  • Info & Registration: https://bethanyretreatcenter.org/blog/retreats/introduction-to-centering-prayer/
Contemplative Outreach Pittsburgh

April 14/15: COP Retreat at Villa Maria

  • More details TBA
From our Prayer Groups
There are 15 Centering Prayer groups in the Pittsburgh area. Over the next newsletters, we invite each group to introduce themselves. Let's get to know each other!
St. James Centering Prayer Group, hosted by Divine Redeemer Parish in Sewickley, PA: 
For the last 22 years, the group has gathered virtually every Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11:00 AM. During the pandemic, a group of about 15 have continued to pray together via ZOOM or in person.  The comfort of home and the joy of joining from distant locations has led to what we call Hybrid gatherings, combining ZOOM and in-person community.  

The group studies contemplative practices, especially as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating.  The weekly sessions include a period of Centering Prayer, the practice of Lectio Divina and the use of enrichment materials such as: The Spiritual Journey video series by Fr. Thomas Keating and other teachers of contemplative practices.  Currently the group is reading the joyful work “The Tao of Aquinas Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times” by Mathew Fox.

It is good to reflect on our history.  The group was established with Ruth Hofmann as the facilitator. Since then, John Nard and then Victoria Graham have led the group as facilitators.  Ruth Hofmann’s presence continues to grace us, as she has recently retired from her many roles as Servant Leader within Contemplative Outreach Pittsburgh and Contemplative Outreach Ltd.  We are forever grateful to her, for we do believe that Centering Prayer and Contemplative Outreach’s abiding presence in the world is eternally changing our hearts.  

God at our center, continues to be always ahead of us preparing our hearts, minds, and souls for whatever comes along. We trust and let God Be! God is beside us, strengthening us in hard times, reaffirming our faith and convictions, guiding us to be the kind of persons we were designed to be, and the world so desperately requires.

St. James Centering Prayer group welcomes others, and you may find more information by referring to the Chapter Website or contacting Victoria by email at [email protected] 

The Church of the Redeemer, Episcopal, Squirrel Hill:

Our Centering Prayer Group started more than 10 years ago. Currently, we have 8 members, and meet once a week via Zoom -  Wednesdays from 7:15 am to 8:15 am - we are the morning people! While we are centered at the Church of the Redeemer, as a Zoom group we have members from other parishes and places.

We meet every week to support each other: in this practice, in our intention, in our faith, in our lives. We begin each meeting with 20 minutes of Centering Prayer, followed by a meditative reading of the Sunday gospel with sharing/discussion, and close our meeting intercessions, holding each other and our communities in prayer.

During the recent installation of our priest Natalie Hall, Bishop Kusserow (from the Evangelical Lutheran Church) preached on the readings which included Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God. We'd like to share with you this quote from the sermon:

"Stillness stands apart from time. Stillness can fit an eternity into one moment. In stillness the self yields its restless pursuit and pauses -  ready now to know the Lord"
Word of the Week

A free program offered by Contemplative Outreach.  A short message is sent each Sunday, which includes an image, Scripture, reflections and suggested practices followed by two weekly prayer groups for practice in community.
Online Courses from Contemplative Outreach

Contemplative Outreach offers many online programs. Attending a workshop, a retreat, an online Centering Prayer group or participating in an online course with a global community is a great way of deepening one’s relationship with God and the experience of living a contemplative life. 
COP Resources: Books & Lending Library
Special Price on Books: Each for only $10 plus postage
  • Invitation to Love and Open Mind Open Heart by Father Keating
  • A taste of silence by Fr. Carl Arico
  • Too deep for words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina, with 500 scripture texts, by Thomas Hall
  • Centering Prayer and inner awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault
Lending Library
  • Click COP RESOURCES for a complete list of resources that can be borrowed from the COP library.
Please call or text your requests to Chris Volz at 412-779-8269 (you may leave a voice message) or send me an email at [email protected]
For a complete list of the CO Theological Principles and Guidelines for Service, https://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/vision/.
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