About the Intensive Retreat


This article contains information about the Centering Prayer Intensive Retreat format, which is also one of the requirements of the commissioning process to become a Centering Prayer Presenter. Thomas Keating asked the Retreats Service Team to review the guidelines for the Intensive including the use of the word “Intensive” when naming retreats, as well as the videos that are offered during the retreat itself. We talked with many retreat teams over the past few years to gather input and consensus. The guidelines are still recommended with some minor changes. We hope the retreats community will embrace the changes as we move forward offering retreats in person again.

Naming your Retreat

It was Fr. Thomas’s intention that we use the word Intensive in the name of a retreat only when the videos being shown are part of his Spiritual Journey Human Condition video teachings. More about the exact videos to use below. The reason for this is that he wanted to encourage everyone to view these videos in a retreat setting. If we call a Centering Prayer retreat that does not show these videos an Intensive there can be confusion, both during the retreat and also for those looking to fulfill the commissioning process. We are recommending that if a Centering Prayer retreat is not using the Human Condition videos that the word Intensive not be used.  For instance, if the God is Love videos will be shown during a retreat that it be called “God is Love Centering Prayer Retreat.” Another way to rename retreats that does not use the Human Condition videos is to use the term “Centering Prayer Advanced Intensive.” The use of the term “Centering Prayer Post Intensive” is for those retreats with additional prayer times and no mental input.

Intensive Retreat Videos

Fr. Thomas asked that everyone view his teaching on the Human Condition at their first Intensive Retreat. As we all have experienced, these videos can be viewed over-and-over again as the spiritual journey continues at deeper levels. To that end, the suggested videos for the Centering Prayer Intensive Retreat with lengths of 8-days, 10-days and 5-days have been uploaded to the Volunteer Resources section of the Contemplative Outreach website.  You can find the list of suggested videos here.

In the video listing you will see links to the videos at the Contemplative Outreach online . These videos were edited in 2017 from Thomas’s original Spiritual Journey video tapes and are the preferred method of viewing the Human Condition videos in a retreat setting. As a reminder, Fr. Thomas’s original Spiritual Journey videos are freely available on the Contemplative Outreach YouTube Channel if a team decides they prefer to use the original versions.

Downloading videos for a retreat

Playing videos during a retreat directly from the website is not recommended as most internet connections are not stable enough. Instead, while planning the retreat content, download each of the videos to a team member’s computer which can then be used to play the mp4 files when connected to a larger screen. This does take time so please don’t try to do it the night before the retreat starts. When downloading choose the “original” file size which has the best quality for larger screen viewing. Before the retreat time, coordinate with your retreat center to make sure you have the needed cable to hook the computer up to the video display and sound speakers. It has been the experience of the teams that most retreat houses are set up to accommodate computer connections. Most of us have technology anxiety so taking care of these issues before the retreat is most helpful to a smooth beginning to the retreat.

Great Information on the Contemplative Outreach Spiritual Journey site

When you use one of the video links on the file, you will be brought to a “lesson” that includes an introduction to the lesson, meditation, video and downloadable video transcript which is called “Download Notes”. This is great information for the team as they prepare to facilitate the video discussions that may occur after viewing the videos. Encouraging retreatants at the beginning of the viewing to listen with the ear of their hearts in a manner of Lectio Divina may help them focus on how the video touches them. can help the retreat team facilitator focus the discussion on how Thomas’s teachings have affected retreatants at this moment on their journey. A sample lesson on Handling Thoughts can be found here.

The team may want to create a transcript binder as a retreat resource. Video transcripts are available to download for each of the videos. It is always nice to have a few binders with the video transcripts available in the video room so a participant can review something that touched them. In addition, the retreat team may also wish to send retreatants a list of the videos links and a transcript after the retreat, so they can continue their spiritual journey video teachings if they wish.

Readings prior to Centering Prayer

There are many retreat teams who use readings from Fr. Thomas’s Invitation to Love and Nan C. Merrill’s Psalms for Praying. If you would like to use these suggested readings, please download the following resources files from the Contemplative Outreach website.

  • Intensive Retreat Before Prayer Readings PDF is here.
  • Retreat Psalm readings PDF is here.
  • Invitation to Love Readings before Centering Prayer PDF is here.

Thank you for your service

We are grateful for all retreat teams throughout the community who serve Centering Prayer retreats. The Retreats Service Team is happy to help as you start to use these new guidelines. Please reach out to our team leader, Leslee Terpay with your questions and suggestions as you move forward. Leslee can be reached at co-leslee@comcast.net