Many people on the contemplative spiritual journey benefit from attending formal programs offered by the St. Louis chapter of Contemplative Outreach and other chapters around the country.
Below are short descriptions of the programs we offer. Our monthly newsletter contains specific information about current offerings in our chapter. Programs are open to all people on a spiritual path regardless of denomination. As our ninth Theological Principle states, “…we are united in our common search for God and our experience of Christ through Centering Prayer.”
If you have questions about any of the program offerings, please e-mail our co-coordinators or leave a message on our phone line at 314.918.8288.
New to Centering Prayer
If you’re new to Centering Prayer or would like to know more about the Contemplative Outreach community in St. Louis, we suggest the following:
- Call 314.918.8288 to find out about attending an Introductory Workshop on Centering Prayer (see below)
- Read Fr. Thomas Keating’s book on Centering Prayer entitled Open Mind, Open Heart. You may also be interested in his books Invitation to Love and Intimacy with God.
- Go to the Events section on this Web site and read about our upcoming events. We’d love to have you join us.
Introduction to Centering Prayer
Introductory workshops held throughout the year are held at a variety of sites. The presenters are specially trained and commissioned in teaching this short course which covers the essentials of the method and conceptual background of Centering Prayer. After the first six-hour workshop, typically held on a Saturday, the program continues for 5-6 weeks with 90-minute gatherings to pray, view and discuss a video presentation by Fr. Thomas Keating and to support an emerging daily practice of Centering Prayer.
To schedule an introductory workshop for your group, church or organization, please leave a message on our phone line at 314.918.8288.
Introduction to Lectio Divina
The four moments of Lectio Divina, Latin for “divine reading”, is explored in this short workshop and its following sessions. The slow, contemplative praying of the scriptures enables us to discover an underlying spiritual rhythm increasing our ability to open to the presence and action of the Holy Spirit. Through lectio (reading/listening), meditatio (meditation/reflection), oratio (responding/speaking with God) and contemplatio (resting in God), we learn to listen with the “ear of the heart” for that “still, small voice” that is guiding and transforming our lives.
To schedule a Lectio Divina workshop for your group, church or organization, please leave a message on our phone line at 314.918.8288.
Centering Prayer Groups
Participants who attend the Centering Prayer or Lectio Divina introductions may decide to join an existing prayer group or form one of their own. The groups generally meet weekly or every other week to share their experience of Centering Prayer or Lectio Divina and growing relationship with God. Many groups decide to view videos or read and discuss books by Fr. Thomas to deepen their individual understanding of their spiritual practices. Formats usually include a session of Centering Prayer, discussion and sharing led by an experienced facilitator. These small faith communities build trust and unity while encouraging service within the chapter.
To find out about current prayer groups in your area, or if you need assistance in forming a prayer group, please leave a message on our phone line at 314.918.8288.
L.E.A.P. is an acronym for “Learn, Eat and Pray” – a program that features Centering Prayer, a special presentation on a topic related to the spiritual journey and a potluck breakfast or dinner gathering for members of our contemplative community. The subjects have ranged from spirituality and the environment to lives of both present day and ancient mystics. There may be a guest speaker on a given subject or discussion of a video presentation related to an aspect of deepening our relationship with God. Each event provides an opportunity to connect with others in the spirit of discipleship and common yearning.
Centering Prayer Retreats
The chapter’s most frequent retreat format is a weekend beginning on Friday afternoon and ending after lunch on Sunday. Retreat facilities usually are at the Marianist Retreat & Conference Center in Eureka, Mo. The retreats provide Centering Prayer practitioners an opportunity to deepen their practice and relationship with God by an immersion in contemplative praying apart from ordinary life. Each retreat includes extended periods of daily Centering Prayer balanced with one-to-one “soul friending,” silence and solitude. Some may offer conference presentations, videos and small group processing including 12-step meetings.
Other longer retreats of 5, 8 or 10 days, known as Intensive or Post-Intensive retreats, introduce many more periods of daily prayer and total silence (even at meals.) These retreats have a prerequisite of an established daily practice of Centering Prayer and attendance at a shorter retreat. We try to accommodate all requests for special dietary or accessibility needs. Retreat leaders and staff are trained to facilitate and guide participants in these unique spiritual experiences.
This popular morning program (9 – 11 a.m.) offers three, 30-minute Centering Prayer periods with one optional meditative walk and a 10-minute break. We call the program a “mini-retreat” for those who might not be able to attend a weekend retreat. Silent Saturdays are scheduled every other month at St. Matthew's Church, 1551 Bennett Avenue, Warson Woods, Mo. For dates, check our newsletters.
Welcoming Prayer Practice
The Welcoming Prayer is an appropriate practice to add after one has been practicing Centering Prayer for a minimum of one year and as a complementary practice to Centering Prayer. It helps dismantle the emotional programs of the “false self” value system in everyday life and heal wounds of a lifetime by addressing them where they are stored – in the body! This practice is presented in a one-day, weekend or five-day immersion experience.
To schedule a Welcoming Prayer workshop for your group, church or organization, please leave a message on our phone line at 314.918.8288.
Contemplative Outreach of St. Louis also hosts a celebration of Epiphany every year in early January and a “United in Prayer Day” each March when we gather to pray with all other Centering Prayer practitioners around the world. Other programs that are offered on a periodic basis include:
Spiritual Journey Video Series (SJVS)
Year-long program of study that uses the teachings of Fr. Thomas Keating on the Christian contemplative spiritual journey
Formation for Contemplative Outreach Service
Training to help participants move towards greater clarity in their understanding of the essence of Centering Prayer. All who present Introductory Workshops in Centering Prayer must go through this training.
Basic Skills Facilitator Formation Workshop
Workshop that develops the essential skills to facilitate a Centering Prayer Group
National level program includes seven full-day offerings of in-depth spiritual study on a variety of topics by subject matter experts.
Coordinator Servant-Leader Formation Workshop
National weeklong program is an orientation and formation for those involved in service in a Chapter or those interested in becoming a Coordinator or Contact Person for an area.
International Web site
Visit the national Web site at www.contemplativeoutreach.org to find out about other national level programs offered in a variety of formats - from retreats around the country to online courses, home study courses, etc. A calendar of events and local contacts around the world are on this site, as well as offerings for special interest groups such as the Twelve Step Program, the Prison Outreach and “Extension Contemplitiva Internationale” (serving the needs of Hispanic communities).