I was listening to Catholic Answers with guest Sharon Lee Giganti and her monthly slot for discussing the New Age. She was an actress with an active professional career who got involved in the New Age and left acting to promote the New Age.
In this episode she was discussing the group “Contemplative Outreach” which is the main organization promoting centering prayer and the works of Fr. Thomas Keating and others. Fr. Keating was the first president of Contemplative Outreach.
One of the book they recommend throughout the site is “Psalms for Praying: An Invitation for Wholeness” by Nan C. Merrill who died last year. This book is a translation of the Psalms meant to be less Patriarchal (authors statement) that flattens them and removes references to sin, judgment, laws, precepts, commandments, etc. As a result the translated Psalms read like more like a reference to an inner-light than they do of any Christian understanding of God. Half of the profits for the book go to her site “Friends of Silence” a website that publishes a New Age Newsletter full or references to the Divine Light within filled with quotes referencing this “light” which falls into line with the pantheism of New Agers.
The author was involved with the infamous “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman that denies suffering and quotes from a channeled spirit. Fr. Benedict Groeshel who went to school with Helen Schucman and gave her eulogy had said that this channeled spirit was possibly a true diabolic manifestation. Nan C. Merrill also had Luciferian views. This group venerates an unfallen Lucifer as a light bringer. She also quotes other Luciferians and Theosophists on this site.
The passages of the book Sharon Lee Giganti read from show a translation of the Psalms that anybody with a working BS detector informed by the faith would cause to sound alarm bells. Often when you bring up the topic of Centering Prayer you set off a tempest from people who support it and considering how prevalent this is in retreat centers that is no surprise. A lot of good people certainly want to get closer to God and so are attracted to this form of prayer which promises to help them achieve that. Yet when you read what the leaders of this movement teach and the fact that they recommend a book dripping with New Age tendencies, you get an idea how close Centering Prayer is bringing them to God.
When you read some of the quotes of Fr. Keating you find something beyond Theosis or Deification such as St. Athanasius’ statement “The Son of God became man, that we might become god” into something more pantheistic where union with God means that we are God and there is no separation between us and God. Becoming “partakers of God’s nature” as St. Peter wrote is not the same as being part of God’s nature. Sharon provides references to many of Fr. Keating’s quotes that are hard to square with orthodox teaching. Add to that he is involved with an institute that promotes religious plurality and syncretism.
It rather sad how infected so many parishes are with Centering Prayer. Instead of forms of contemplative prayer advocated by the saints or proven practices like Lecto Divina people are taught a technique more akin to Transcendental Mediation than looking at God and contemplating and adoring his attributes. A form of prayer not advocated by any Blessed or Saint and which is promoted by people with less than an orthodox view of the faith is hardly a prayer at all. Centering Prayer can easily become self-centered prayer that confuses yourself with God. I remember another episode on Catholic Answers where they were discussing Centering Prayer and a large group of people called in explaining how after they got involved with Centering Prayer had quite negative effects. This article on This Rock Magazine “The Danger of Centering Prayer” explains why this is so.
You can find Sharon Lee Giganti’s site here.