Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Greetings

To the readers of my blog I would like to wish you a Happy Holiday, and to the Christians I pray that you will have a very blessed and special Christmas, and to all a New Year filled with Hope.

I have been very busy writing my second book. As soon as I finish it next year I hope to resume regular postings on this blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Are There Distractions In Centering Prayer?

Fr. Thomas Keating, former Cistercian Abbot, author of numerous religious books, and founder of Contemplative Outreach, wrote somewhere that “There are no distractions in Centering Prayer.” What I think he means is that distractions are a normal part of Centering Prayer and we should not be disturbed even if they dominate our prayer period as long as we keep employing our sacred word or equivalent. He uses the following analogy. He compares our thoughts to tightly packed boats sitting on a river. When we do something to reduce this number “space begins to appear between the boats. Up comes the reality on which they are floating.” (Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 110)

We reduce the number of boats by our centering practice. Each time we become aware of a thought we say our sacred word. The question arises as to what we mean by becoming aware of a thought? This can be confusing for some of us. For me I relate the boat to an idea or sentence passing through my mind. When I find that a single sentence or thought leads to another similar sentence or thought, that is they are connected in some specific way, I identify this as becoming aware of a thought in centering prayer terms.

However, this thought sequence could go on for awhile before I actually become aware that this has happened and that I need to use the sacred word. Then if I fail to use the sacred word or whatever it is that I do to ignore the boat, I am allowing myself to be distracted. The key point for me is that, the fact that I got hooked on some special thought and my mind wandered in that direction, is not a distraction even though it lasts for a few minutes. It is only a distraction if, when I realize what has happened I linger on the thought, (perhaps it so enticing or seems so important), instead of immediately invoking my sacred word.

Surprisingly, Centering Prayer can be particularly helpful when we attend Mass or perform other devotions such as the Rosary. Regular and consistent practice of Centering Prayer is similar to an athlete training for a sport. We are trained by Centering Prayer to be much more conscious of our thoughts and often, more importantly, our feelings. Consequently when we attend Mass and a sudden distraction or emotion overtakes us and draws us away from the Mass, the discipline/training involved in our Centering Prayer practice helps us to recognize this distraction much more quickly and recover our attention to the Mass more easily.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Another Definition of WORDLESS PRAYER

In a private message to Dr. Gianna Sullivan on June 10, 2006, the Vigil of Trinity Sunday, Our Lady of Emmitsburg spoke of the love of the Holy Trinity for us and urged us that, with all our heart, we give "to the Holy Trinity every bit of Love within" us. The Mother of God then adds these priceless words:


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

'Safari in a Wordless Prayer'

In reading the Contemplative Outreach News, Vol. 23 #1, on their website, I found the following poem under Reader's Reflections. It is titled Safari in a Wordless Prayer and was published in a book entitled Safari of the Spirit. This poem, which was anonymously written by a hermit living in the desert with the bushmen, beautifully expresses the prayer in which God prays in us. It is printed below:

After years of
daily practice
and devotions,

The many words
of prayers
begin to fail.

To continue as before
becomes so painful

that the sole solution
seems to be

Give up,
abandon prayer!

But listen
as the Spirit calls

Deep into the
wordless dark.

Make safari to the
silent heart,

Where the midday
mind is left behind.

Surrounded by the

Awed by Presence in
the night,

Share the ever-living
Word of Christ,

And become his
never-ending prayer.

So unable to find
proper words to pray

Becomes a blessing,

For the spirit helps
using our weakness,

And speaks for us
before the
Father’s face,

In a wondrous
wordless way,

That only God can

And prayers,
the words we try to say
or do

Become prayer,
the Word that
says it all for you.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

POEM: Dark Night of the Soul

On Nov.22, 2007 a reader posted this question on my blog dated Oct. 12, 2007 in which I discussed the dark nights of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He wrote: “I’m surprised at the apparently gloomy path through multiple dark nights one must traverse to reach spirituality. Why so difficult? How many nights? Night of Sense, Night of Spirit, is there a Night of the Soul? others?”

The question as to “Why so difficult? is an extremely complex one and is best answered by the mystical theologians of the Catholic Church. Interestingly enough, St. John of the Cross, Spanish mystic and Doctor of Mystical Theology, wrote of the Dark Night of the Soul which, originally, was the second part of his famous work, The Ascent of Mount Carmel. In it, he divides the Dark Night of the Soul into two parts: the Dark Night of Sense and the Dark Night of Spirit, which I briefly discussed in my Oct. 12, 2007 blog entry.

There seems to me to be a tendency in pious writings to stress the gloom and suffering which the great Saints underwent. This can have a very negative effect on people who are considering entering upon the spiritual journey or who are already consciously pursuing the spiritual life. That is one reason why I prefer reading the author’s original writings rather than commentaries and interpretations by others. For example, how many of us, when we think of the Dark Nights, ever think of the beautiful, mystical poem written by St. John of the Cross, which forms the very foundation for his treatise, The Ascent of Mount Carmel? Printed below is the eight verse poem as translated by E. Allison Peers. This mystical, nuptial poem is far from gloomy!

“Wherein the soul sings of the happy chance which it had in passing through the dark night of faith, in detachment and purgation of itself, to union with the Beloved.

“On a dark night,
Kindled in love with yearnings
–Oh, happy chance!–
I went forth without being observed,
My house being now at rest.

“In darkness and secure,
By the secret ladder, disguised
–Oh, happy chance–
In darkness and concealment,
My house being now at rest.

“In the happy night,
In secret, when none saw me,
Nor I beheld aught,
Without light or guide,
Save that which burned in my heart.

“This light guided me,
More surely than the light of noonday,
To the place where he (well I knew who!)
Was awaiting me–
A place where none appeared.

“Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn.
Oh, night that joined
Beloved with lover.
Lover transformed in the Beloved!

“Upon my flowery breast,
Kept wholly for himself alone,
There he stayed sleeping,
And I caressed him,
And the fanning of the cedars made a breeze.

“The breeze blew from the turret
As I parted his locks;
With his gentle hand
He wounded my neck
And caused all my senses to be suspended.

“I remained, lost in oblivion:
My face I reclined on the Beloved.
All ceased and I abandoned myself,
Leaving my cares
Forgotten among the lilies.”

Monday, February 11, 2008

Kudos for My Book, ITS LIGHT IS THE LAMB

KEN WILBER, founder of the Integral Institute, featured Chapter 11, Physicists and Mystics, from my book, ITS LIGHT IS THE LAMB, on his blog on Feb. 1, 2008. In his invitation to potential Guest Bloggers, KEN WILBER writes “getting your material published on this site will really put you and your work on the forefront of the Integral revolution.” To see the selection criteria go to:

It is quite an honor to have my work singled out by KEN WILBER and published on his blog. To view my posting as Guest Editor on Ken's blog go to:
If you wonder "Who is KEN WILBER?" He is founder of the Integral Institute and is considered by many to be the most influential integral theorist today, as well as the most intelligent and self-critical voice coming out of the ‘Transpersonal Psychology’ movement. KEN WILBER is an American author of over twenty books on psychology, philosophy, mysticism, ecology, and spiritual evolution. For many years he has practiced a type of Buddhist meditation on a regular basis. He interviews on his website some of the world’s greatest thinkers, including Father Keating of Contemplative Outreach fame. According to Ken's website: “Integral Naked presents audio video dialog and art behind the scenes with the most provocative thinkers in today’s world.” DEEPAK CHOPRA says: "I read KEN WILBER every day so that I can be inspired by the most extraordinary mind of our times."

Sunday, February 10, 2008


On Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008, my husband and I attended the monthly Marian Prayer Service at the Lynfield Event Complex situated off Route 15 between Frederick and Emmitsburg, MD. It is during this prayer service that Our Lady of Emmitsburg gives a “Public Message To the World”.
At the time we were there, we estimated that over 400 people attended. Everyone present was able to watch on a large screen, what was happening in the front row where Dr. Gianna Sullivan was sitting beside her husband, Dr. Michael Sullivan, and their daughters. Half way into the Marian Prayer Service we started to pray the rosary. During the fourth decade of the rosary, Gianna Sullivan suddenly sinks to her knees on the floor, and goes into ecstasy at the appearance of the Mother of God.
Our Lady is visible only to Gianna, whose face lights up with a beautiful smile. Then Gianna’s lips began to move, but you cannot hear her voice. Thereafter follows, what appears to be, an animated discussion between Gianna and her unseen visitor. After a short time, Gianna’s face changes, becomes more serious, and the microphone now picks up the sound of her voice as she recites aloud the message which Our Lady wishes to give to the world.
I was very pleased to hear Mary emphasize a point that impresses me relative to the many recent messages from Heaven. Our Lady said that her Son is inviting everyone “to live in Him, and to be Him.” To me, this means that Jesus is calling everyone to be contemplatives. She emphasizes the importance of humility on our walk with her Son. Our Lady then tells us what is required of us on this walk. She says: “You must be Jesus; and to be Jesus, you must receive His graces with humility and kindness and with love.”
Mary stresses that peace is what God desires. And she urges us: “Do not allow another day to go by without you working and cooperating to change interiorly and without you following God’s Divine Will.”

She tells us: “You can make the change, and this world can be different."

Mission of Mercy

After attending the Marian Prayer Service, my husband and I stayed overnight in Frederick, MD. The next morning we went to the Frederick Church of the Brethren to view the mobile medical clinic used by Mission of Mercy to bring free medical and dental services and free prescriptions to the uninsured poor and the homeless. Mission of Mercy was founded in 1994 by Dr. Gianna Sullivan (Pharm D) with the help of her husband, Dr. Michael Sullivan, who had left a lucrative medical practice at the Geisinger Clinic, PA to move to Emmitsburg, MD at Our Lady’s invitation.
We also viewed the large facility which the Frederick Church of the Brethren had made available for use by the Mission of Mercy volunteers. The room was divided up into separate areas where the doctors, nurses and volunteers could interview and see patients, including a triage area and a prenatal examining area. There are seventeen such facilities, three in AZ, seven in MD, two in PA and five in TX which are serviced by the mobile medical clinics. Five of these facilities are Catholic and the remaining twelve include Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist and others. Since 1994 Mission of Mercy has provided for over 200,000 patient visits.
Pat Sajak of TV Wheel of Fortune fame is one of Mission of Mercy supporters. If you are interested in contributing or wish to learn more about Mission of Mercy go to:

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Vacation Experiences

We just got home last week from a vacation in the Bahamas. One experience I doubt I will ever forget was frolicking with a three-hundred pound dolphin named Andy on Blue Lagoon Island. There were about eight people in the pool, including two small children. One of the tricks the trainer had taught Andy was to jump into the air, since we were only up to our waists in the water, and rest his head on our shoulder as we put our arms around the dolphin. Then Andy kissed us a few times. It was fun to see how differently each one reacted to this. Each of us also danced with Andy, petted him both on the back and the stomach, fed him fish and finally put our finger into his gigantic mouth to touch one of his teeth!

But the most memorable part of the vacation, was sitting out on the patio overlooking the rocks and the incredible blues of the Atlantic ocean, as the palm trees' fronds swayed in the Trade Winds. The light and color in the sky and water was so beautiful and so delicate. It reminded me of Provence, France made famous by such artists as Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso. Much has been written about how the light in Provence appeares so different and how painters have always seemed to find the light and tranquility there inspiring. Hundreds of painters still live and paint in Provence. The view from our patio was unique, reminding me of what had been said about the light of Provence. Every time I looked at the lovely scene before me it was like Paradise, I was filled with such joy, such unbelievable joy as I became enveloped in God’s creation.