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The Path of Centering Prayer: Deepening Your Experience of God Hardcover – September 1, 2012
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—Anna Jedrziewski, Retailing Insight
"Frenette's enthusiasm for centering prayer, his use of illustrative material from his own life and mystical experiences, and his flair for creativity give this handbook a vibrancy that carries the reader along. We were especially taken with his comparisons of contemplation with dancing and with floating on water."
—Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality & Practice.com
“This book in my view is the best, most comprehensive, and most practical book on centering prayer.”
—Father Thomas Keating
“In this beautiful book, David Frenette expands the map of the known Centering Prayer universe. With the blessing of his spiritual father, Thomas Keating, David develops and gently reshapes fundamental building blocks of the Centering Prayer teaching. This is an important moment in the Centering Prayer lineage transmission, when a faithful student emerges into mastery. David’s work will breathe significant new life into your personal practice.”
—Rev. Cynthia Bourgeault, author of Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening
“This excellent book represents Christianity come to maturity! Here you will find good theology, good practice, good psychology, and a recovery of the foundation itself—how to live in communion all the time.”
—Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, founding Director of the Center for Action and Contemplation
“With simplicity and great wisdom, David Frenette reconnects you to the universal tradition of how to open to God, how to pray in silence, and finally, how to let the spirit pray within your heart. If you want, or need, to be drawn deeper into prayer, read this book and live its guidance.”
—Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, PhD, Sufi teacher and author of Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism
“In his lucid guide to Centering Prayer, David Frenette navigates a path for beginners and seasoned practitioners who wish to enter ever-deepening states of loving friendship with the Divine.”
—Mirabai Starr, author of God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
“This wonderful book provides direction, encouragement, and support for a prayer practice with ancient roots. Drawing on his considerable experience as a spiritual director, David Frenette skillfully shares stories and offers wisdom that illuminates the heart of the practice and will lead practitioners through the subtle challenges that inevitably arise in the process of living into ever-deepening levels of prayer. This is a book not only to be read, but to be consulted regularly for insight and help along the way.”
—The Right Reverend Robert O’Neill, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado
“The Path of Centering Prayer is a beam of light in what can sometimes be a dark and unknown journey with God. It is written from the heart of David’s relationship with God and his discoveries along his contemplative journey in solitude, in community, and in spiritual direction. From this place of wisdom, David enlightens readers with encouragement and enrichment, which will nourish them in their own commitment to the centering prayer practice and the contemplative life.”
—Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, President of Contemplative Outreach, Ltd.
About the Author
David Frenette has been a longtime teacher of Centering Prayer and contemplative meditation, as well as a friend and advisor of Father Thomas Keating for 34 years. He has a graduate degree in transpersonal counseling psychology and has taught at leading retreat centers around the country. David co-created and co-led a Christian contemplative retreat community for 10 years. His primary work is in developing practices and resources for contemplative practitioners, and supporting a unitive approach to meditation that includes body, mind and heart, as well as spirit. He is a spiritual director for clients worldwide.
Father Father Thomas Keating
Father Thomas Keating draws from over 60 years of study and prayer as a Trappist monk in sharing the wisdom of 20 centuries of the contemplative Christian tradition. One of the principal architects of the contemplative Christian prayer movement, Father Keating co-founded the Snowmass Interreligious Conference and Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., and is author of many books, including Open Mind, Open Heart.
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Top customer reviews
Centering prayer is a method of silent contemplative prayer that comes out of the teachings of the Christian tradition. In the fourteen years that I have been practicing centering prayer, I have found that there is a wealth of material out there for the beginning centering prayer student and many good books on the theological background of the prayer, but it is more difficult to find help for the experienced practitioner. When I heard David Frenette speak for the first time four years ago, I knew I had finally found the teacher I had been looking for. David has been practicing and teaching centering prayer under the guidance of Thomas Keating for over 25 years and he has a great gift for describing the subtle interior experience of the prayer. The experience of sitting in silent contemplation can be very hard to talk about, even for those who have been practicing for a long time. David is very good at describing and addressing concerns and problems that may arise. I believe that the qualities that I have appreciated in his spoken teaching are very present in this book.
Thomas Keating in his classic Open Mind Open Heart mentions that centering prayer may be practiced using several different forms of the sacred symbol: the sacred word, the sacred breath, the sacred glance, or the sacred nothingness. However, almost all teachers of centering prayer focus entirely on the sacred word and often do not even refer to the other symbols. In the first part of The Path of Centering Prayer, David expands in very practical detail on the use of each of these sacred symbols, discussing how each may be suited for different people at different seasons of the spiritual journey. Those who have been using the sacred word may find their practice enriched and refreshed when they experiment with another of the sacred symbols, or may even find that their practice has naturally evolved into the use of one of the other symbols and that David's teachings may help to illuminate and affirm this natural evolution. The sacred word may sometimes come to feel a little bit harsh or overly conceptual, and the use of the other symbols may provide a valuable opportunity for the deepening of the practice.
The second part of the book looks at eight contemplative attitudes: receiving, consent, simplicity, gentleness, letting go, resting, embracing, and integrating. These attitudes represent subtly different ways of being in the prayer that allow one to relate to the sacred symbol more and more deeply. David describes in these chapters how one may move from a more active disposition into an attitude in which one is completely receptive to God's action. David has a very gentle way of describing the prayer in these chapters that conveys the feeling of being in the prayer. There is always tension involved in trying to explain contemplative prayer, a non-intellectual way of being, in words and concepts. I find that David's approach allows me to remain in a contemplative mode without leading me away from the contemplative space.
Since I came to David's work as a more experienced practitioner of the prayer, it's harder for me to address how this book will be received by less experienced practitioners. It is meant to be a guide for beginners and experienced practitioners alike. I know that there have been beginning practitioners on the retreats who have very much enjoyed them. David's approach seems to me to be very respectful of the different places where people are in regard to the prayer. I believe that David always speaks up to his audience, never down. Newcomers may often understand the prayer very deeply and may appreciate being invited into the richness that this book offers.
The Path of Centering Prayer is full of stories from David's experience and quotations from the spiritual classics that help to bring it to life. David's teachings come out of himself, his long practice of the prayer, and his rootedness in the tradition of the prayer. I highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to go more deeply into this method of contemplation. Because of its very detailed and practical discussion of contemplative prayer methods, it may also be of interest to non-Christian practitioners of meditation and prayer.
The first part discusses the basic practice of centering prayer, and then moves to the subtler areas of deepening contemplative prayer. It addresses common problems of the practitioner, and the author offers practical detailed advice with case studies from his former students and spiritual directees.
The second half of the book I think is most exquisite. The author discusses the contemplative attitudes, or perhaps one could say the fruits, of contemplative prayer that are revealed in daily life and how to foster them. Such qualities as simplicity, gentleness, letting go, resting in God, embracing, and finally integrating one's experience of prayer into one's daily life, are spoken of as possible to attain through fidelity to prayer. Lest you wonder if these lovely attitudes really can be developed through prayer, one needs only to study with David Frenette to experience the fruit of his own prayer as he is a living embodiment of what he writes about. The beauty is that he addresses not only in delicate detail the process of prayer itself, but how the earnest practice of contemplative prayer transforms the practitioner from the inside out. His encouraging and personal style is inspiring to the reader. This is a book to read slowly and to savor, and gives one much hope for the joys to come through faithful practice of prayer.
A helpful guide for the beginner to get started on solid ground, and a unique treasure of a guide for the more mature practitioner of contemplative prayer. Highly recommended.
I love how Frenette, like his teacher Keating, uses the rich and inexhaustible depths within Christian tradition as a resource for understanding the heights and depths of awareness in prayer. Frenette doesn’t feel the need to dig outside of Christian tradition. He digs one well, the Christian well deeper and deeper and deeper, until he arrives at wellsprings of water, which will quench the thirst of the most committed students of Centering Prayer.
This is a book that I have poured over and underlined. It is one that will be placed at the top of my bookshelf and which I will read again and again. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially for the adept student of Centering Prayer, who practiced for years.
Now when a wild eyed long-term student of Tibetan Buddhism who is also fascinated with Christian Mysticism talks to me (one did two weeks ago), I will have a book to recommend! I admire Frenette’s commitment to prayer and his beautiful examination of the depths of silent prayer within Christian tradition!
-Amos Smith (author of Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity's Mystic Roots)