SP2527 SPIRITUAL LIFE AND LEADERSHIP
SP2527 Spiritual Life and Leadership
Topic: Centering Prayer
Description: Centering Prayer is a spiritual discipline designed to facilitate our ability to listen and respond to God’s presence more fully in our lives. It develops an ancient prayer form of meditative prayer (as presented in The Cloud of Unknowing) in a contemporary idiom. Centering Prayer is an apophatic form of prayer that can help us to co-operate with God’s gift of grace by moving beyond thoughts, words, images and feelings into the silence of our hearts. It is there, at the center of our being, that we learn to attend to the Spirit of God who dwells within. It is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer, and it in fact depends upon the regular practice of cataphatic forms of individual and corporate prayer that rely on thoughts, words, and images. During the time of Centering Prayer, our intention is simply to rest in God’s presence and consent to God’s action within. At other times, our attention and intention moves outward to discover and respond to God’s presence in the world. Centering Prayer is a discipline to be learned and practiced regularly as an integral part of our spiritual life in the community of faith.
During this semester, we will practice Centering Prayer in plenary and small groups, exploring the importance of silent listening to God for our daily lives and our ministry in the church.
Place: Geneva 100, San Anselmo
Anonymous. The Cloud of Unknowing. Edited and introduction by James Walsh. Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1981.
Bourgeault, Cynthia. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening. Cambridge, MA: Cowley Publications, 2004.
Reininger, Gustave., ed. Centering Prayer in Daily Life and Ministry. New York: Continuum, 1998.
Student Requirements/ Expectations:
Grading: Pass/fail only. Timely and regular presence is essential. To receive credit, participants are expected to be on time for class, and no more than two excused (and no unexcused absences) may be incurred. These requirements exist for two reasons: skills cannot be learned without practice—the content is the process—and groups cannot reach their necessary depth without stable membership. If it is necessary to seek an excused absence, please contact either Beth Liebert or your small group leader before the session that you will have to miss.
Process for Reflective (Spiritual) Reading:
February 3: Brief Introduction to and Initial Practice of Centering Prayer, Course introduction and orientation: participants, syllabus, readings, plenary and small group process, organization of items relative to spirituality concentration.
February 10: The Method of Centering Prayer; small group covenanting and discussion.
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch. 1-3,
February 17: Historical Introduction to Centering Prayer; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch. 4-7
February 24: Theological Introduction to Centering Prayer; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch 8; Introduction to the Cloud, pp. 51-62, Cloud, Prologue, and Ch. 1- 4
March 3: Biblical Images in Centering Prayer; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Introduction to the Cloud, pp. 62-67, Cloud of Unknowing, Ch. 5-13
March 10: Psychological Introduction to Centering Prayer; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch. 9-10, Introduction to Cloud, pp. 67-69, Cloud of Unknowing, Ch. 17-23.
March 17: Centering Prayer as Counter-Culture; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Introduction to the Cloud, pp. 69-75, Cloud of Unknowing, Ch. 24-30
March 24: SPRING BREAK – NO CLASS
March 31: Centering Prayer and Protestant Christianity; plenary and small group practice.
Introduction to the Cloud, pp. 75-78, Cloud of Unknowing, Ch, 31-34
April 7: Centering Prayer and Discernment; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Introduction to Cloud, pp. 87-90; Cloud of Unknowing, Ch. 50- 61
April 14: Centering Prayer for Cultivating Self and Benefiting Others; plenary and small group practice.
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch. 11-13
April 21: Centering Prayer and Daily Life; plenary and small group practice. (Daeseop)
Assignment: Bourgeault, Ch. 14, Epilogue
Semester REFLECTION PAPER due. Please hand in TWO copies.
April 28: Centering Prayer and Ministry, Leading Centering Prayer in the Church; Closing reflections; bookkeeping and course evaluation