If Contemplative Prayer is For Resting in God, What Role Does Repentance Play?

Carl McColman | 4/19/2019 | Staff
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Over the past month I have written several posts about Centering Prayer and contemplation, all in response to an email I received from an Episcopal priest with some thought-provoking questions about the theory and practice of contemplative spirituality.

You can read the original email here.

Posts - Response - Email

Here are the posts I’ve written in response to that email:

Is Centering Prayer “Old” or “New”?

Today - Comment - Priest - Email

Today I want to respond to the last comment from the priest’s email:

Broader concerns about the place of repentance and resting in God just as we are as well, but that is enough for now.

Line - Email - Point - Response - Email

It was just a throwaway line in the email, but it raises a great point. So I want to conclude my response to his email by commenting on this issue.

What is the issue? To state it simply: much of the conversation around Centering Prayer or other forms of contemplative practice stress the notion of rest as an important dimension of contemplative spirituality. Perhaps it has its roots in the classic philosophical treatise for Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture. I myself have often suggested that silent prayer is meant to be a “sabbath” experience: a break from the normal routine of life, the ordinary round of responsibilities and duties that shape our commitments to family, work, and parish.

Silent - Prayer - Time - Activities - Presence

Silent prayer is a time for setting aside our normal activities, to “be still and know” the presence of God, in our hearts and in our lives. So by its very nature, it is a spiritual practice grounded in the concept of resting in God.

But is there a risk or a danger in “resting in God”? At what point does rest stop being leisure and start to become sloth? And what is the relationship between contemplation and the heresy known as quietism?

Reader - Comment

I could be misunderstanding my reader’s original comment; but...
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