For a few months I have been sitting with this wonderful quotation from Basil Pennington‚Äôs book on Centering Prayer. “By grace we are Christ. Our relationship with God is that of Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit.” At first this seems so obvious. We have been saying it all our lives in different ways. However, it is the succinct way that it is written that stopped me in my tracks. “By grace we are Christ.” Centering Prayer has been a means for me of realizing this and I still have a long way to go in the full realization of it. That as I sit, and at times the sitting is quite painful, by grace I am before God as Christ is in his relationship with God. This is alluded to in the Introduction to Centering Prayer. The fourth talk “Deepening Our Relationship with God” mentions our basic core of goodness. “Our fundamental goodness is an element of Christianity. Acceptance of this core of goodness is essential to spiritual growth. Our core is our true self and is our potential in Christ”. This transformation in Christ is a process that is happening slowly, facilitated by our consent to God‚Äôs presence and action in our lives. The action of the Spirit is slow and gentle as it heals us from the inside out. “The purpose of Centering Prayer is not to experience peace but to evacuate the unconscious obstacles to a permanent abiding state of union with God.” From this abiding state, “by grace we are Christ.” At Eucharist in the preparation of the gifts, a Catholic priest says, “by the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.” This is another great reminder of how closely our lives are intertwined with Christ. Our Centering Prayer practice deepens this mystery within us as we consent to God‚Äôs presence and action, twice a day.
-Fionnuala Quinn O.P.
(Sr. Fionnula is regional coordinator for Contemplative Outreach Ireland. She lives in Dublin)