On Use of the Sacred Word

Q: I have found that saying my sacred word continuously throughout Centering Prayer works better for me than only when thoughts come in. Is this all right also, or what is the difference?

A:  I am sure that saying your sacred word continuously keeps thoughts from coming in.  However, where is the opening for something to come up so that you can let it go?

Thank God for your fidelity to the prayer – much good is going on. But when you keep repeating the sacred word to keep the thoughts from coming up it is like a person talking to a friend and never giving the friend a chance to respond. After a while the friend will back away and let you keep talking. Centering Prayer is a receptive practice.  It is a matter of allowing space so that something new can happen, something old can be let go of, a breath of fresh air can enter into your spiritual framework. We want to be caught off guard and be surprised, so to speak. If there is something that needs to come up it will, but why not help it along by lovingly giving the Divine Therapist some space. I always like to keep in mind that prayer is a relationship, not an exercise.

Thank you for your question. May your peace be the Lord’s peace which is not always ‘peaceful’ from our point of view.  -Fr. Carl

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