Be Still And Know I Am God

             —Psalm 46:10

dsc_00094In 1974, Father William Meninger, a Trappist monk and retreat master at St. Josephs Abbey in Spencer, Mass. found a dusty little book in the abbey library, The Cloud of Unknowing. As he read it he was delighted to discover that this anonymous 14th century book presented contemplative meditation as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.

This form of meditation, recently known as ‘Centering Prayer’ (from a text of Thomas Merton) can be traced from and through the earliest centuries of Christianity. The Centering Prayer centers one on God.

The Cloud was written, not in Latin but in Middle English – which means that it was intended for laymen as well as priests and monks. Father Meninger saw that it was a simple book on the ultimate subject, with only 75 brief chapters.

He quickly began teaching contemplative prayer according to The Cloud of Unknowing at the Abbey Retreat House. One year later his workshop was taken up by his Abbot, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, both of whom had been looking for a teachable form of Christian contemplative meditation to offset the movement of young Catholics toward Eastern meditation techniques.

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Ten years later, Abbot Keating, now retired and a member of Father Meninger’s community of St. Benedict’s in Colorado, initiated his highly organized and effective Contemplative Outreach, Ltd. in order to facilitate a spirituality focused on Centering Prayer.

Father Meninger takes a limited time each year from his silent monastic life to travel the world and teach contemplative prayer. His book, The Loving Search For God is an effort to bring the message of The Cloud of Unknowing to men and women of the 21st Century.