Cynthia Bourgeault Silence And The Word 21 & 22 November 1997
St. Philip Oak Bay

Word and silence belong together.

“Silence is God’s first language” (John of the Cross)

The Word is living and active within us. It sets in motion a pattern of growth that allows us to unfold according to our own purpose and the divine plan. The Word leads the believer to see the world as a living art of the great mystery of Christ.

Lectio Divina refers to reading and listening to Scripture at ever deeper levels of our being. It aims for a balanced rhythm of word and silence. This rhythm carries the word deeper and deeper into our being.

In the 13c. the rise of Scholasticism formed theology based on rational philosophical principles. Contemplation came to be looked upon as only for people with a special calling. Word and silence became polarized. Silence dropped off and the word that was left was analytical, dogmatic and sharp.

Bruno Barnhart – the real polarization in Christianity is between the unitive and the fundamentalist. All forms of literalism are fundamentalist which expects that the only reality is the linear, causal reality.

The Bible is an inner road map which speaks to the illumined heart.

There are four forms of prayer which fit on two axes:

horizontal axis: form and motion

vertical axis: presence and emptiness

Western religion knows only the horizontal axis: form and motion – prayer of words using precepts, goes back and forth between form and motion.

Motion is the place where the prayer of form comes to life.

The vertical axis has been kept alive in the eastern tradition.

Emptiness is the place where form stops and we go beyond form trusting ourselves to that which gives the form. Emptiness connects with the prayer of presence, allowing you to be present to the moment.

Prayer is so much a part of life that total prayer and total life mean being present and open without ceasing.

Christianity is not only good, it is also beautiful.

Levels of awareness:

Ordinary awareness – level at which we routinely function and which we think is who we are. Tends to be dominated by fear.

Spiritual awareness – level at which we become aware of God. Lives beyond fear. Comes from God and belongs to God.

Divine awareness – Indwelling. We are not a place that God does not occupy.

Most of us identify ourselves completely with the ordinary level of awareness.

If we want a new person to grow we must break the shell of ordinary awareness. This is what meditation does. Meditation is letting go of ordinary awareness.

You begin to become aware of the living fountain of God that is in you. You can be present. Fear can cease by just being here now. If you want something deeper to grow, it is there.

Let go of ego. Make an empty space to see what God may do with it. Make room for the living seed of life which God has planted in each of us to live and grow.

Centering Prayer works with intention. Our intention is simply to rest in and be open to God.