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Center for Action and Contemplation

Simplicity: Weekly Summary and Simple Prayer Practice

Saturday, July 4, 2020


Saturday, July 4, 2020
Summary: Sunday, June 28—Friday, July 3, 2020

As we grow spiritually, our lives become more and more centered and simple. There are only a few things that matter, and eventually really only one. (Sunday)

Francis of Assisi truly experienced radical participation in God’s very life. Such practical knowing of his value and true identity allowed Francis to let go of status, privilege, and wealth. (Monday)

Simple living is the foundational social justice teaching of Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Dorothy Day, Pope Francis, and all hermits, mystics, prophets, and seers since time immemorial. (Tuesday)

Through the centuries Clare has continued to be a beacon of light to women and men who long to love Christ with an undivided heart, to serve others generously, and to live simply in a world that glorifies material possessions. —Bridget Mary Meehan (Wednesday)

These are the pleasures that we take in our own lives, our own wakefulness in this world, and in the company of other people and creatures—pleasures innate in the Creation and in our own good work. Wendell Berry (Thursday)

The fullest freedom I had ever known, the greatest sense of security, came from abandoning my will to do only the will of God. Walter J. Ciszek, S. J. (Friday)


Practice: A Simple Prayer  

Nelson Kane is a graphic designer who edits CAC’s publications, including Oneing and the Mendicant newsletter, as well as the faculty books published through CAC Publishing. He recently shared this prayer practice with his community, along with us at the CAC. It reflects the simplicity embodied by many of the people we featured this week, who chose to focus on the “one thing,” which led them to God and to greater joy and satisfaction with their lives.

Begin this prayer with deep gratitude for all we are given, for the majesty of life that we are so privileged to be a part of. Offer a prayer that expresses your desire to connect more deeply to the holy unity of all of life.

This practice can be done seated but stand if you’re able. If possible, pick a place in nature, perhaps surrounded by trees where you can feel relaxed and safe.

The intention of this prayer-practice is to be empty of all that stands in the way of being truly connected to God. Ask God to be with you, to join you in this day. Ask God for help in releasing to emptiness. Ask, deeply, to see with God’s eyes, to hear and speak and be in the place where God coexists with human life.

Allow yourself to become quiet, still and centered. Let go of the mind’s and body’s expressions of anxiety, loss, tension and all the energetic ways we block, close and retreat from being with God. Allow yourself to find stillness.

Feel your body connect to the ground. . . .

Start by standing, feeling your feet connect to the ground, centering your weight over the center of your feet. Relax your body—feel your face relax, your shoulders relax, scan down and feel each part of your body relaxing and emptying. Moving down from head to foot—start to frame your deep intention.

If words are appropriate, let them arise with your true desire to be truly connected to God. As prayer, as affirmation, whatever it is, let your desire to be connected to God fill your relaxed mind and heart.

Allow your heart to feel your deep intention beyond words. Allow yourself to feel the wordless energy of your prayer. As you feel your body empty of tension, feel your deep intention filling and expanding within you. Allow this silent prayer to fill every part of your body, every cell. Let it radiate from your core outward. Finally, rest in this place of being, feeling, listening to this energy of your deepest desire, of your truest intention.

Notice how it feels to let the energy of your prayer/intention move beyond your physical body. Let your prayer energy radiate into the atmosphere surrounding you. Experiment to see how far you can extend this sense of your prayer energy.

From Nelson Kane, shared prayer practice (5/2/2020).

For Further Study:
Wendell Berry, “Economy and Pleasure” in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry, ed. Norman Wirzba (Counterpoint: 2002)

Bridget Mary Meehan, Praying with Visionary Women (Sheed & Ward: 1999)

Walter J. Ciszek with Daniel L. Flaherty, He Leadeth Me (Image: 2014, ©1973)

Richard Rohr, The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of Saint Francis (Sounds True: 2010), CD

Richard Rohr, The Great Chain of Being: Simplifying Our Lives (CAC: 2007), MP3 download; and

Richard Rohr: Essential Teachings on Love, eds. Joelle Chase and Judy Traeger (Orbis Books: 2018)

Richard Rohr, “Life Coming to a Focus,” Homily (March 7, 2020)

Richard Rohr, Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 1991, 2003)

Image credit: Gleaners (detail), Jean-François Millet, 1857, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The simple soul who each day makes a morning offering of “all the prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day”—and who then acts upon it by accepting unquestioningly and responding lovingly to all the situations of the day as truly sent by God—has perceived with an almost childlike faith the profound truth about the will of God. God’s will for us is clearly revealed in every situation of every day, if only we could learn to view all things as [God] sees them. —Father Walter Ciszek, S. J.
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