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Silence - Solitude - Service

Centering Prayer


Kuala Lumpur Chapter, Malaysia

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      2nd Introductory Workshop &             6 Follow-Up Sessions

Our 2nd Introductory Workshop was held on Saturday 10th November 2007.

             VISUALS FOR THE WORKSHOP PRESENTATIONS

The participants have completed the 6 Follow-Up Sessions and have already joined the main prayer group for the weekly Centering Prayer sessions since the beginning of the New Year of 2008. 

For general information, our plan is to conduct Introductory Workshop for Centering Prayer at least once a year at the Parish of the Good Shepherd. The 2nd workshop did not get as many participants as the initial workshop. The usual flyers and posters were sent a few months prior to the workshop but very few responded. We will continue to extend our   invitation to interested participants every year. However,    we will conduct the workshop if there are sufficient numbers.          

These Introductory Workshops for Centering Prayer are open to all parishes within the Kuala Lumpur areas, especially for parishes of the North District of the Kuala Lumpur Arch-diocese. In addition, we welcome the faithful from other parishes, either locally or out-of-state who wish to learn more about this prayer format with intention to embrace the practice of Centering Prayer.

Please refer to our Chapter Programme in the Menu for more details.

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Outreach Programme

Centering Prayer Kuala Lumpur Chapter, Malaysia had organized an Outreach Programme commencing at the beginning of 2008. The aim is to be of `Service' to the poor and the marginalized. As an initial project, the Chapter will be only focussing on providing foodstuff for the refugees. This will be an on-going programme until we embark on a different form of project to be of service to those in need.

The Centering Prayer Group members from the Church of the Good Shepherd have already started to implement this project in early January 2008. The other Centering Prayer Groups in and around Kuala Lumpur and the Selangor areas are also requested to join in this effort by collecting foodstuff for the refugees.

What have been done over the past year is our collection of foodstuff or in kind, for the Myanmar Migrants around the Good Shepherd Church area. There are about 400 hundred of these migrants (including children) in need of assistance. We have been providing an average of RM 300.00 worth of food stuff for them on a monthly basis. The items were purchased and delivered to them on pre-determined dates. 

Present requirements recommended are non-perishable items  such as : Rice, Tinned items, ie; Sardins, Tuna, Baked Beans, and other types. Bottled Water, Canned fruits and Juices, Canned Dairy Products, ie; both Condensed and Evaporated Milk, Tinned Milk Powder for Babies (for 2/6 months) and other forms of Canned Beverages. (We need always to  check on the Expiry Dates of the items prior to delivery)

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RETREATS

Articles On Centering Prayer Retreats   

This section will be specially devoted to articles pertaining to events at our Centering Prayer Retreats.

To date we have had two very meaningful Retreats organized by our Kuala Lumpur Chapter. The first and Inaugural Centering Prayer Retreat was held on 10th to 13th August 2007.  The second Retreat was held on 9th to 12th May 2008. They were held at the Villa Dominic, Genting View Resort.

Both the Retreats held special experiences for many of the participants. The Kuala Lumpur Chapter was privileged to have a practicing Centering Prayer priest from overseas. We were most fortunate to have Rev Fr. Martin O'Loghlen, sscc; as our Retreat Director on both occasions. It was indeed a rare and meaningful experience for those who attended these two Retreats where full emphasis was placed on all aspects of Centering Prayer. 

We hope you will enjoy reading both the articles below. These two articles provide vivid descriptions of the events and activities that took place at the Retreats.

Please note that a shorter version of the first article for the Inaugural Centering Prayer Retreat was published in `The Herald' of week ending 16th September 2007.

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     Inaugural Centering Prayer Retreat

                      10th to 13th August 2007 

                             By : Katherine Wong

The first Centering Prayer Retreat, organized by the Centering Prayer Kuala Lumpur Chapter – was held at the Villa Dominic, Genting View Resort from Friday 10th to Monday 13th August 2007.  Rev Fr. Martin O’Loghlen, sscc;  a Centering Prayer priest from Contemplative Outreach, USA; and currently administering a parish in the outskirts of Manila, Philippines; was the Retreat Director. (He has since returned back to the US) The theme chosen for this first retreat was Daily We Touch Him’.

Altogether 28 participants were in attendance for this retreat. There were 4 from the parish of St. Francis Xavier Church PJ, 3 were from the Penang Diocese, and the rest of the 21 were mainly from the parish of the Good Shepherd Church, Setapak; where the new office of Centering Prayer Kuala Lumpur Chapter is now based and located.

The silent retreat commenced with 2 Centering Prayer sessions on the first day, and a subsequent of 5 other Centering Prayer sessions on each day, which were combined with Meditative Walks and Lectio Divina (praying the scriptures) in between.  In addition to that, we began each morning with the Eucharist celebrated by Fr. Martin. What was unique about this Eucharistic experience compared to the normal ones is that we had 20 minutes of Centering Prayer incorporated in it after receiving the Eucharist, which was very beautiful for all of us. 

Apart from that, Fr. Martin also conducted many short talks of ½ hour each before we were given time for personal re-flections. In fact, much time was allocated to us for that, which is one of the reasons why the retreat was so enriching, as we were able to get away from the demands and pressures of daily life, just to spend time with God and ourselves, to rediscover who we are, how we are, the way we are, and what can we do about it.

Fr. Martin began his talks on the basics on the first night with an `Introduction to Centering Prayer' and how it all began.  He explained that for the Church’s first sixteen centuries Contemplative Prayer was the goal of Christian spirituality. After the Reformation, this living tradition was virtually lost.

In the 1970s, a group of Cistercian monks at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, USA continued the work started by Thomas Merton of searching for a means of reviving the contem-plative tradition and the practice of Lectio Divina. This resulted in the development of Centering Prayer, which is drawn from the ancient prayer practices of the Christian contemplative heritage, notably the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert, the monastic practice of Lectio Divina, The Cloud of Unknowing, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. It was distilled into a simple method of prayer in the 1970’s for the benefit of the clergy and lay people by three Trappist monks, Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Abbot Thomas Keating at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts. 

Centering Prayer is a method of prayer in which we consent to rest in God’s presence and action within.  It is a prayer that moves us beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him. It prepares us to receive the gift of contemplative prayer.   

Contemplative Prayer, on the other hand, is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God, beyond thoughts, words and emotions, whom we know by faith is within us. 

Fr. Martin’s second talk was the explanation of Lectio Divina and its historical roots in our Catholic faith. There are actually 2 forms of Lectio Divina. The original is the actual Monastic Method, which was practiced by the Benedictine order where a verse is selected and chanted the whole day and then one follows the attraction of the Spirit to respond accordingly. The Monastic way is unstructured, even though it contains the same four steps as those found in the second form, the Scholastic Method.

The Scholastic Method of Lectio Divina developed in the Middle Ages at the beginning of the Scholastic Period.  At this time, there began a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual life. As this tendency grew, the emphasis was placed more upon rational analysis and less on personal experience. The scholastic form divides the process into stages or steps in a hierarchical pattern, ie : Reading (Lectio), Reflecting (Meditatio), Responding (Oratio), and Resting (Contemplatio).

After all this explanation, his final input on the Lectio Divina practice was not to allow ourselves to get locked in the steps but to instead allow the Holy Spirit to lead us accordingly. For example, if we find ourselves moving to the Resting step immediately from the Reflecting step instead of moving from Reflecting to Responding, it is perfectly all right to do so.

Fr. Martin’s third talk was on why we need to practice Centering Prayer in our daily lives. As the wisdom saying of Jesus goes:

“…..But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret.  And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” Matthew 6:6 

Therefore, Centering Prayer is the KEY to open the inner room” within us to be with God who dwells within us.

As a child, we are a bundle of needs that requires to be satisfied yet never easily satisfied. When our biological needs are not satisfied, we develop these three emotional programs in order to obtain happiness, which is our main goal in life. They are Security/Survival, Affection/Esteem, and Power/Control.  Biological needs are necessary and are good. The problem is that we want more than what is necessary (GREED) and we tend to over-identify with our culture, race, nationality, emotions etc, which is not healthy for us.  These are what make up our false self.  Our true self is always in communion with God.  In order for us to change from our false self to our true self, we need a tool, for by ourselves, there is no way we can return to our true self. This tool to reprogram ourselves like how a hard drive is re-programmed - is Centering Prayer. Centering Prayer is a means to erase/remove obstacles that prevent us from get-ting in touch with the God who dwells within us.  Therefore, the practice of Centering Prayer is central to our purpose here on earth.  It is central to our goal for happiness. If we do not dismantle our false self, we become miserable. We drive people crazy with our demands.  It is after this session that we were given an exercise to reflect on which emotional program was the dominant one for us so that we can begin to let it go.

Fr. Martin also talked about THOUGHTS in the practice of Silence. Thoughts are NORMAL, NATURAL and are very NECESSARY. In fact, the main purpose of Centering Prayer is not to have NO THOUGHTS but to be DETACHED from ALL thoughts. The reason why we need to detach ourselves from thoughts is because thoughts reflect the commentaries that are related to our emotional programs for happiness.  Therefore, to let them go is to allow ourselves to refocus on our intention to dwell with God who lives in us. An interesting point made by Fr. Martin is : “Thoughts are NECESSARY because we need them, they are our friends and we ought to thank them, for they help us to identify what is it that we need to detach our-selves from.”

Fr. Martin also reminded us of our basic goodness, that we are each first created in the image and likeness of God, that we are greatly loved and deservedly so. In Centering Prayer, God finds ways to affirm our basic goodness. Yet, to be constantly aware of our basic goodness is to go on the transformative journey of dismantling from our false self. According to Fr. Martin, “the transformative journey is a series of profound humiliation experiences”, for to dismantle our false self is to let all our 'ego self’ to die.

Finally, he used the passage from Matthew 17:22-23: “One day when they were together in Galilee, Jesus said to his disciples ‘The Son of Man is going to be handed over into the power of men; they will put him to death, and on the third day he will be raised to life again." And a great sadness came over them.” to show us that like the disciples who focused on Jesus’ death on the cross instead of the joy of His resur-rection, we focus on the pain of letting go in our trans-formative journey instead of the hope of attaining the happiness we’ve been looking for. 

This is why practicing Centering Prayer should not be done for the sake of doing it, but to do it to the point that we are able to live life as Christ lives in us.  This will in turn help us to serve God and others with a deeper love than the love that we would have had through the false/egoic self. This is the ultimate aim of Centering Prayer :   SILENCE – SOLITUDE - SERVICE.

To many of the participants, this Centering Prayer Retreat was a first time for them and most were happy and enjoyed the `experience' and the scheduled activities. The quiet and cool environment of Villa Dominic was pleasant and very conducive and ideal for a silent retreat. The rooms were well-kept and clean and the six meals per day of food was plenty for everybody. More importantly, the charges are affordable for everyone.

                    VILLA DOMINIC, GENTING VIEW RESORT

The scheduled twin Centering Prayer sessions were extremely nice and new to many of us, as each one was preceded by a reading of the Psalms, and at the end of it, was followed by a meditative walk before the next session of prayer.

The Lectio Divina sessions were equally nice and touching for all of the participants. It was good experience for them as they were never exposed to this rich Christian tradition of prayer before.

The small group sharing sessions turned out to be very nice and were enjoyed by all. The sessions were helpful to many of the participants.

We have all been truly enriched with this 4-day weekend retreat with Fr. Martin. Coming home and facing life’s challenges ahead of us, there is certainly still much to remember and ponder from this Retreat.

The Church of The Good Shepherd
Setapak,
Kuala Lumpur - 20th August 2007

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       THE RETREAT PARTICIPANTS - 2007

PREPARATION FOR `LECTIO DIVINA' SESSION

 

CENTERING PRAYER IN SESSION

 

RETREAT DIRECTOR'S INPUT

 

 THE DAILY EUCHARIST WITH REV FR. MARTIN O'LOGHLEN

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 * Note :  For more details about Lectio Divina, please see the Lectio Divina Page in our Menu.

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                          Evaluation Report 

An Evaluation was done at the end of the above Retreat held on 10th to 13th August 2007 and the detailed comments and  experiences of the participants were recorded for our future references.

It is both very enlightening and encouraging to note the positive personal experiences of some of the participants.

Please feel free to browse through this Evaluation Report by clicking here.

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                 2nd Centering Prayer Retreat

               9th to 12th May 2008 

Our 2nd Annual Centering Prayer Retreat was held at the same venue, at Villa Dominic, Genting View Resort from 9th to 12th May 2008. Once again, we were very fortunate to have Rev Fr. Martin O'Loghlen, sscc; as our Retreat Director.

Fr. Martin, who is currently working in one of the parishes in the Phillippines, is an experienced practitioner of Centering Prayer from Contemplative Outreach, USA. (Fr Martin, has since been posted back to his order in the US in late September 2008)

The theme for this year's Retreat was `Taste of Silence ..... ..... In Communion With HIM.'

For this 2nd Retreat, an invitation was extended to members of the Singapore Centering Prayer Chapter to join us, and we are so pleased to have 13 of their members joining us in the Retreat.

There were altogether a total of 41 participants at this second Retreat, a significant increase from last year's attendance of 28. The participants were from Singapore, Penang, Malacca, Church of St Francis Xavier, Petaling Jaya; and Church of the Good Shepherd, Setapak.

The Retreat was conducted in similar fashion as to the last Retreat. Fr. Martin started off the silent Retreat with an hour and a half recap on the Method of Centering Prayer, followed by 2 sessions of Centering Prayer on the first day. The sub-sequent days were scheduled with 6 sessions of Centering Prayer as well as Lectio Divina, with Meditative Walks in between the prayer sessions. The Retreat Director began each morning with the Eucharistic Celebration, incorporating a session of Centering Prayer after Holy Communion.

Fr. Martin gave a lot of input over the 3 days of the Retreat. New topics relating to Centering Prayer were covered. Topics included were as follows :

  • A short bibliography of the life of Blessed St Damian and emphasizing on the need spend time in prayer.
  • The late Fr. Thomas Merton and his contemplative method of prayer. It was his writings that inspired Fr. William Meninger, Fr. Basil Pennington and Fr. Thomas Keating to revive the ancient Catholic tradition of Contemplative Prayer. The hand outs on Merton's writings were very helpful as reading materials during the Retreat.
  • Elaboration was made on`the Human Condition' by Fr. Thomas Keating, pertaining to the 3 main basic emotional programs for happiness : ie; Need for Security/Survival, Power/Control, and Affection/Esteem/Approval. These were discussed during the introduction of the `Welcoming Prayer' to the participants.
  • By : Katherine Wong 

PARTICIPANTS

OF

2ND CENTERING PRAYER RETREAT

9th - 12th MAY 2008

 

 CENTERING PRAYER SESSION

 

CENTERING PRAYER SESSION

 

SMALL GROUP SHARING

 

LISTENING TO FR MARTIN'S INPUT

 

BREAK FOR EXERCISE

 

LECTIO DIVINA SESSION

 

LECTIO DIVINA SESSION

 

MEMBERS OF THE SINGAPORE CHAPTER

 

MEMBERS OF THE ST FRANCIS XAVIER/PJ GROUP

 

THE GOOD SHEPHERD GROUP & PENANG MEMBERS

NEXT RETREAT 2009

 The next Annual Centering Prayer Retreat for this year 2009 is scheduled for Friday 2nd to Monday October at the same venue at Villa Dominic, Genting View Resort. Interested practitioners are requested to view more details in the Programme Page in the Menu of the site.  

    NEW PRAYER GROUP

On Monday 20th July 2009, a six-member group from the Sacred Heart Church, Jalan Peel; led by Belinda Moo, came to join us at our weekly prayer session. This was in preparation for them to launch their Centering Prayer ministry at their Parish. We were told that they had the approval and good encouragement to form their Centering Prayer ministry from their Parish Priest, Fr. Christopher W Soosaipillai. Praise the Lord !

Their intention of their joining us for the prayer session was to experience the prayer session with us, with the view to observe the method and the conduct of the prayer session.

At the end of the session some recent Centering Prayer leaflets and write-ups were given to them together with a collection of books pertaining to Centering Prayer. This is to assist them to understand more of this prayer as they move forward in their spiritual journey. We pray that their visit and doing the prayer with us was beneficial to them.

Please be informed that their prayer group is now officially listed on our Web Site on the Prayer Group page.