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Contemplation

Why contemplation?
Richard Rohr founded the CAC in response to a need he observed in social activism and justice work. Fr. Richard saw many sincere and passionate people burning out, becoming angry and bitter, even as they tried to make peaceful changes in the world. Bringing a contemplative stance to a life of compassionate action allows justice to flow naturally and non-violently from a place of inner strength and grace. Read more about the CAC’s history here.

What is contemplation?
Contemplative prayer, remaining silently and openly in God’s presence, “rewires” our brains to think non-dually with compassion, kindness, and a lack of attachment to the ego’s preferences.

In contemplative prayer we move beyond language to experience God as Mystery. We let go of our need to judge, defend, or evaluate, plugging into the mind of Christ which welcomes paradox and knows its true identity in God.

During contemplation we come to know that there is no separation between sacred and secular. All is one with Divine Reality.

Through contemplation we develop the capacity to “witness” our egoic motivations and bring this knowledge into our day-to-day actions, living with increased freedom and authenticity through this deep awareness of our self and God’s Self. Fr. Richard often says that contemplation is an exercise in failure.

Each time we pray, we come with “beginner’s mind,” true humility, an openness to not knowing. Even with our best intentions to remain present to Presence, our habitual patterns of thinking and feeling interrupt and distract. Yet it is the desire that matters, and through our failing we encounter God’s grace.

Contemplative prayer is a practice for a lifetime, never perfected yet always enough.

Develop your own contemplative practice.
There are many forms of contemplation such as walking meditation, chanting, centering prayer, yoga, being in nature, observing breath, creating art, or returning to a sacred word. We invite you to try a practice and stay with it for some time, making it a regular part of your day. You may find that one method fits more naturally than others for you.

Two simple practices:

Fr. Richard teaches a simple exercise he learned from a rabbi friend, the YHWH prayer. The Jews did not speak God’s name, but breathed it. God’s name was the first and last word to pass their lips. Breathe naturally with mouth open, tongue and lips relaxed, inhaling Yah and exhaling weh.

For an explanation and guide to centering prayervisit Contemplative Outreach’s website.

Resources by Fr. Richard Rohr on contemplative prayer and outflowing compassionate action

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