Rev. Martin Laird, O.S.A.,is profiled on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly on PBS. He teaches the ancient Christian spiritual practice of contemplation—clearing away distractions to become aware of silent union with God. Laird is interviewed at a retreat in Maine and at Villanova University, where he begins his classes with 15 minutes of silence.
In two very readable volumes, Martin Laird presents prayer as the cultivation of stillness and attentiveness that lead to a deepening experience of the simplest, yet most obscured, truth about who we are as persons—we are not separate from God. For those seeking a sustained exploration of this interior journey and the obstacles encountered along the way, Into the Silent Land and A Sunlit Absence will provide an experienced guide and a caring companion. Laird is a patristic theologian and an active practitioner of contemplative prayer.
Rev. Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Keating introduces us to an understanding of prayer as something much broader than particular forms of prayer. He describes contemplation as a dimension of human life that is basic to who we are as persons. It is a gift that “has been given” and therefore does not need to be discovered outside of ourselves. According to Keating, our practice of contemplation contributes to the growth of the whole human race and our “corporate search for the unknowable God.” We only need to awaken to this fundamental truth of our human existence.
For a short clip of Thomas Keating addressing a conference of people from the corporate world, click here.
Contemplative Outreach, offers practical support in developing a more intentional prayer life. It presents three particular prayer practices and provides concrete guidance in the practice of each: Centering prayer, Lectio Divina, and Welcoming prayer. It is in the daily practice of some form of prayer that we can open ourselves to the loving presence of God in our midst.
Gary N. McCloskey, O.S.A., Praying with the Augustinians (originally appeared in Catholic Digest)
Developing René Girard’s understanding of desire as mimetic or imitative, James Alison, a British priest and lecturer living in Brazil, offers inquisitive Christians a way of understanding prayer as the space within which we open ourselves to be re-formed by the loving regard of an abundantly peaceful God. It is only by becoming increasingly attentive to God’s loving regard for us that we can begin to be people who are truly able to see one another as neighbors, friends, sisters, and brothers. See his “Prayer: A Case Study in Mimetic Anthropology.”
Sr. Joyce Rupp is a beloved spiritual writer and speaker. Through her books, poetry and prayers she has helped others to embrace their life in a prayerful way. In this short interview, you can get a sense of her spirituality. In May I have this Dance? An Invitation to Faithful Prayer Throughout the Year, Rupp takes you on a guided visualization of “The Falling Leaves”. She often uses images from everyday life to bring people closer to God. In her classic book Praying Your Goodbyes, Rupp shows her willingness to address life’s darkness and she offers solace and aid in making peace with loss. Here you will find her work, Prayer of one who is feeling lost.
Mobile Prayer Support
If you find yourself running in many different directions and need a moment’s peace, Pray-as-you-go.org offers podcasts of daily prayers based on the Scripture readings of the day. Each prayer begins with music that sets the theme which is followed by a reading of Scripture and poignant questions for personal reflection. Setting aside ten minutes for this prayer during the day can be a simple way of attending to God’s loving presence.
For those interested in praying with the “Liturgy of the Hours,” DivineOffice.org provides podcasts of Morning, Noon, Evening, and Night prayers, complete with an opening prayer, psalms of the day, Scripture readings, and a closing prayer. It also makes available a concise explanation of the origins and significance of this practice within the Christian tradition.