Contemplative Life Ministry

Contemplative prayer strikes some as a bewildering concept and, in many ways, it is quite distinct from both the corporate prayer of liturgical life and individual prayers of petition, intercession, or gratitude. It is most often silent and tends to involve resting in God's presence and opening oneself to the "still, small voice." This generally requires that we set aside our own agenda, perhaps sitting with a phrase, image, or narrative that emerges from a scripture passage or other reading. While there are various approaches, the contemplative framework is surprisingly simple and deeply rooted in Christian tradition, which means that we are all capable of some degree of contemplative prayer and living. It also means that there are many guides to help move us in that direction.

The Contemplative Life Ministry of Christ Church provides parishioners and others with the opportunity to enter into the contemplative heart of the parish. All are welcome to attend monthly gatherings, which typically take place on third Mondays, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m., in the Chapel of Saint Jude or the church nave. Each session includes approximately 40 minutes of reading, silent prayer, and quiet conversation, as well as time for snacks and fellowship in Keith Hall. This schedule makes it possible for interested parties to participate and still get home for dinner and/or time with family.

Periodically, the Contemplative Life Ministry sponsors special offerings aimed at supporting individual and congregational spiritual development. Four Quiet Mornings (see below) will take place during the 2017-2018 program year. Members of the Contemplative Life Ministry also maintain connections with members of Anglican/Episcopal monastic orders through regular communication, occasional time spent in monastery guest houses, and the shared life of prayer.

In addition to participation in the activities detailed above, parishioners are encouraged to consider early arrival for Sunday liturgies and attendance at the Daily Office - opportunities for prayer and quiet listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit. For more information about the Contemplative Life Ministry, contact parishioner Merrill Carrington

 

Quiet Mornings

During the 2017-2018 program year, the Contemplative Life Ministry will sponsor four Saturday Quiet Mornings. The goals of these gatherings are to provide insight into contemplative tradition, shed light on some of its leading voices, and, through periods of quiet spaciousness, provide an experience of drawing closer to God and to our own deepest selves. For more information about the Quiet Mornings, contact the Reverend Elizabeth Keeler, Assistant to the Rector.
 

Meditations

A pamphlet of selected readings and prayers designed to draw readers in a contemplative direction will soon be available at the church and on this website. In the meantime, we offer the following passages, which have been used at prior meetings to focus attention in shared reflection.

“A church should be a place of spiritual nourishment, a power-house of spiritual growth, and this should involve the provision of space for silence and solitude… The conditions of the desert - a place of silence, of attention to God in simplicity and faith - should be made accessible in each parish community. How can we utilize our space so that it becomes a pressure and an impetus, rather than a hindrance, to the growth of prayerfulness?” - Kenneth Leech (1939-2015)

“If our church communities are going to flourish, we must find ways of being together that respect each person’s solitude while offering ample support for the arduous inward journey. Monasticism offers a model of this sort of community. The possibilities for adapting it to our own circumstances are limited only by our imaginations." - Parker Palmer (b. 1939) 

“Our ministries demand silence for their integrity, in particular our speaking to others and our listening to them in Christ’s name. Without silence words become empty. Without silence our hearts would find the burdens the secrets and the pain of those we seek to help intolerable and overwhelming. And our ethos of silence is itself a healing gift to those who come to us seeking newness of life.”  - from the Rule of Life of the Society of St. John the Evangelist