Contemplative Prayer Group
SFdS Contemplative Prayer Group
We’re delighted that you’re interested in contemplative prayer and in finding a deeper relationship with God through silence and stillness. Our groups exist to share and support contemplative practice, which inspires and strengthens us to be channels of Christ’s love in the world.
We’ve been in existence for 4 years, meeting on Mondays at 1:00 pm and Thursdays at 7:00 pm in the church undercroft. We recently became an online community and we continue to meet at the same times.
Click the sections below to learn more and to join!
A brief history of contemplative prayer
- Christian contemplative prayer goes back to the first centuries of the Church when it was practiced by the Desert Fathers and Mothers. They were looking for a simpler spiritual life centered on the Presence of God.
- By the fourth century, there were almost 30,000 contemplatives – mostly laypeople – living in the deserts of Egypt, Palestine and Syria. (from Life of St. Antony)
- While its popularity has come and gone, it has enjoyed a recent renewal beginning in the 1960’s with the writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk at the Trappist monastery of Gethsemane, KY.
- More recently, another Benedictine monk, Fr. Thomas Keating, began the Centering Prayer movement which is flourishing today.
- Franciscan Richard Rohr founded and still directs the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico which is also thriving.
- Our two parish groups are affiliated with a third contemplative prayer group, the World Community of Christian Meditation – WCCM – founded by yet another Benedictine monk, John Main, in London. Today it is based in London and France and is led by Benedictine Fr. Laurence Freeman.
- Fr. Keating (now deceased), Fr. Rohr and Fr. Freeman collaborated and shared the same vision and ideals for each of their groups. For a YouTube video discussion among them, please click here.
- “Nearly four years ago I joined a Meditation group (AKA Contemplative Prayer) forming at Saint Francis de Sales. In the beginning I figured if I went to the group I was at least practicing Meditation once a week, but the members inspired me to do more…to practice on my own, to learn, to deepen my faith in this new way.
I wasn’t great at clearing my mind or only focusing on my breath and I’m still not. I’m the youngest person in the group by far, but it doesn’t feel that way. All the members are so youthful in their approach to faith, wanting to learn, to grow, constantly being open to new possibilities and seeking a relationship with God.
When we share reflections and intentions, each person is truly HEARD, listened to and respected in a way I have seldom experienced elsewhere. You can feel it and really see the care on everyone’s faces. Being a part of this group has truly been a beautiful blessing from God.” Kristine
- Why and how does one pray contemplatively for 20 minutes twice a day?
“Many, many pray-ers over the centuries have answered in many ways. One of my favorites comes from Trappist monk Thomas Merton. My paraphrase is: to know the Divine Spark of God’s infinite love for and within each of us and to allow that love to move through us to the world.Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr based his Center for Action and Contemplation on this “prayer and action” principle. Our old Baltimore catechism says it’s our purpose in life: “to know, love and serve God in this world…”.
God’s love for us knows no limits , and, through us, transforms the world. All it requires is silence, solitude and commitment. Simple and not always easy. But it works!” Jan
- “Contemplative Prayer is first and foremost a gift, simple yet powerful. As many have said in different ways, the practice of letting go of thoughts over and over is challenging, but the reward is well worth the effort – the opportunity to greet the divine spirit within us over and over again. When I joined the group at de Sales four years ago, I had been reading Richard Rohr’s meditations for a while, and had heard of Centering Prayer through friends. I had no idea of the transformative power of this practice. I am very blessed to be a part of this group.” Steve
- “The centering prayer group has been a great help in my spiritual journey. It provides growth within the community and is a support and encouragement for my private practice as well.” Glenn
Since we practice Christian contemplative prayer, most members are Christian. We have newcomers as well as those who have practiced for many years. There is no commitment to weekly attendance. We practice complete confidentiality.
Your overriding desire to join should be to develop a closer relationship with God through silent contemplative prayer among like-minded people.
Meetings begin with the reading and discussion of a sacred text, which is sent to everyone to study the week before meetings. This is followed by twenty minutes of silent prayer, brief intercessory prayers, announcements and final blessings. The meeting lasts no longer than an hour.
Participation Guidelines for Contemplative Prayer Groups
Our Technology: We currently use the Zoom platform for our prayer sessions. You can download the Zoom app to your tablet or smart phone, or you can open in a browser on your PC simply by clicking on the provided link.
Devices: A PC, tablet or smart phone with a microphone and camera.
- You must be 18 years or older to participate.
- Most participants are members of St. Francis de Sales Parish. However, members of other parishes and Christian communities are welcome.
- If you want to invite a friend or family member to join, please direct him or her to this portal to register. Individuals may not add new members without using the portal.
- Meditation / contemplative prayer requires the quieting of mind and body. All who participate in our groups agree to not act in any disruptive behavior, ex: walking, eating, talking with non-participants, having pets audible or visible during our virtual meetings. Participants are expected to mute their own video or audio if an unplanned interruption occurs.
- A maximum of 20 participants will be allowed in each group. If a group reaches capacity, a new group may be started on a different day or at a different time.
Once you sign up to join the prayer group you will receive weekly readings and you’ll be sent a link each week to enter into either our Monday or Thursday group.
Thanks so much for your interest.
We hope to see you – virtually – soon!