Founded by Fr. Richard Rohr, we are an educational center grounded in the Christian mystical tradition. Visit us online at cac.org
The Center for Action and Contemplation, located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was founded in 1987 by Franciscan Father Richard Rohr, who saw the need for a training/formation center. It would serve as a place of discernment and growth for activists and those interested in social service ministries—a place to be still, and learn how to integrate a contemplative lifestyle with compassionate service. The Center’s purpose would be to serve not only as a forum for peaceful, non-violent social change but also as a radical voice for renewal and encouragement. Envisioned as a faith alternative to the dominant consciousness, offering hope, inspiration and challenge to a despairing world, the CAC today attracts people from around the world—those who seek peaceful, positive alternatives and solutions to the difficult challenges of our often materialistic, irrational and violent world. These people share the CAC vision and understand the constructive message of the Gospel that crosses boundaries of religion, ethnicity, social class and gender. Many individuals seeking direction from and understanding of God's will and love have found the CAC to be a place of discovery and much more.
Mission: We are a center for experiential education, encouraging the transformation of human consciousness through contemplation, equipping people to be instruments of peaceful change in the world.
As a Catholic priest and Franciscan, Father Richard Rohr regularly participates in liturgical prayer, but he recognizes its limitations: “When religious folks limit their focus in prayer to external technique and formula, the soul remains largely untouched and unchanged. Too much emphasis on what I call ‘social prayer’ or wordy prayer feeds our egos and gives us far too much to argue about. That is surely why Jesus emphasized quiet prayer in one’s own ‘inner room’ and warned us not to ‘babble on as the pagans do’…. How can we truly pray when we are preoccupied with formula and perfection of technique? If we can see silence as the ground of all words and the birth of all words, then when we speak, our words will be calmer and well-chosen. Our thoughts will be non-judgmental. Our actions will have greater integrity and impact.”
Has liturgical or formal prayers played an important role in your religious or spiritual development? Have you also made space for silence or inner prayer as part of your spiritual practice? Read more: http://ow.ly/oCxD30q6kEe
Without a capacity for silence, Richard Rohr points out that, “The ego will use words to get what it wants. When we are in an argument with our family, friends, or colleagues, that is what we do. We pull out the words that give us power, make us look right or superior, and help us win the argument. But words at that level are rather useless and even dishonest and destructive. The soul does not use words. It surrounds words with space and silence. Silence is a kind of wholeness. It can absorb contraries, paradoxes, and contradictions. Maybe that is why we do not like silence. There is nothing to argue about in true inner silence, and the mind likes to argue. It gives us something to do. The ego loves something it can take sides on. Yet true interior silence does not allow you to take sides. That is one reason contemplation is so liberating and calming. There are no sides to take and only a wholeness to rest in—which frees us to act on behalf of love.”
When was the last time you found yourself in a battle of words, insisting on your own rightness? What might happen next time if you allow silence to break through your sense of superiority? Read more: http://ow.ly/FhKI30q6kEd
Because we live in a busy and chaotic world, many of us are intimidated and perhaps even frightened by silence, but Fr. Richard Rohr assures us that “When we connect with silence as a living, primordial presence, we can then see all other things—and experience them deeply—inside that container. Silence is not just an absence, but a primal presence. Silence surrounds every ‘I know’ with a humble and patient ‘I don’t know.’ It protects the autonomy and dignity of events, persons, animals, and all created things…. Outer silence means very little if there is not a deeper inner silence. Everything else appears much clearer when it appears or emerges out of silence. Without silence, we do not really experience our experiences. We are here, but not in the depth of here. We have many experiences, but they do not have the power to change us, awaken us, or give us the joy and peace that the world cannot give.”
Most of us have been trained to avoid silence (and therefore God’s presence and our own being) by filling every waking moment with noise and distraction. Seek out an opportunity today to simply rest in silence. Come back and tell us about your experience. http://ow.ly/eT8D30q6kEc
Father Richard Rohr believes we need “a different operating system that both begins with and leads to silence” to counter the “dualistic thinking which is operative almost all of the time now. We typically choose or prefer one side and then call the other side of the equation false, wrong, heresy, or untrue. But what we judge as wrong is often something to which we have not yet been exposed or that somehow threatens our ego. This is the common level of conversation that we experience in much of religion and politics and even every day conversation. It lacks humility and patience—and is the opposite of contemplation. In contemplative practice, the Holy Spirit frees us from taking sides and allows us to remain content long enough to let it teach, broaden, and enrich us in the partial darkness of every situation.” Fr. Richard reminds us that “Regardless how we practice—with stillness, breath, observation, chanting, walking, dancing, calm conversation—contemplation calls the ordinary thinking mind into question…. Even through practices full of sounds and words, contemplation helps us access a foundational silence, a deep, interior openness to Presence.”
What's one way you have accessed the contemplative mind beyond silent prayer or meditation? Read more: http://ow.ly/IoW730q6kE9
To begin the new year, Richard Rohr introduces the theme for his 2020 Daily Meditations: “The most important word in our Center’s name is not Action nor is it Contemplation; it’s the word and. We need both compassionate action and contemplative practice for the spiritual journey. Without action, our spirituality becomes lifeless and bears no authentic fruit. Without contemplation, all our doing comes from ego, even if it looks selfless, and it can cause more harm than good. External behavior must be connected to and supported by spiritual guidance. It doesn’t matter which comes first; action may lead you to contemplation, and contemplation may lead you to action. But finally, they need and feed each other as components of a healthy dynamic relationship with Reality. In fact, this relationship between action and contemplation is so important that it will be the underlying theme of my Daily Meditations for 2020, as I look at it from many angles.”
When you witness suffering in the world, what is a more natural starting place for you: action or contemplation? What disciplines or practices have allowed you to incorporate both? Read more: http://ow.ly/POXe30q6kE8
Image: The Angelus (detail), Jean-François Millet, 1857–1859, Musee d'Orsay, Paris, France.
To bring us into greater intimacy with God’s “revolutionary love,” CAC faculty member James Finley offers this guided meditation: “A practice I have found particularly helpful is to pair breath awareness with the phrase ‘I love you.’ As you inhale, listen to the incoming breath so intently that you can hear in it God’s silent ‘I love you.’ In this moment, God is flowing into you as the source and reality of your very being. As you exhale, breathe out a silent ‘I love you’ back to God. As you inhale, be aware of the air as being God flowing into you, as the divine gift of your very being. As you exhale, allow your silent ‘I love you’ to be your very being, flowing back into the depths of God. Simply sit, open to God breathing divine love into the depths of your being, as you breathe your whole being, as a gift of love, back into God.”
Spend some time today contemplatively breathing in and out God’s love for you and all of humanity. Read more: http://ow.ly/CeWK30q3Qqi
Living School faculty member Brian D. McLaren continues to describe how Christianity can become “a movement of revolutionary love.” He writes, “The most important aspect of Christianity in the future is simple, obvious, and yet radical: it is about love, as Jesus taught and embodied…. In this desirable future, every willing Christian congregation makes every competing interest subsidiary to love, which is the fruit of all contemplation and the goal of all action. If we embody this form of Christianity, if we become the seeds of a movement of contemplative activism in the Spirit of Christ, I can imagine hundreds of thousands of congregations, each a locally and globally engaged school of love, teaching future generations to discover, practice, and live in love: love for our neighbor, love for ourselves, love for all creatures and all creation—all comprising love for God, who is all in all in all.”
How has your contemplative practice engaged you in moments of “revolutionary love” and how have you shared that love with the world? Read the rest of today's meditation: http://ow.ly/EllB30q3Qqh
Image: Healing of a Bleeding Woman (detail), Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, Rome, Italy
Author, activist, public theologian Brian McLaren believes Christianity can become a universal path of spiritual transformation, based on “Jesus’ original approach. He never announced to his disciples: ‘Hey folks, we’re going to start a new, centralized, institutional religion and name it after me.’ Instead, he played the role of a nonviolent leader and launched his movement with the classic words of movement, ‘Follow me.’ He used his power to empower others. He did great things to inspire his followers to do even greater things. Rather than demand uniformity, he reminded his disciples that he had ‘sheep of other folds’…. He recruited diverse disciples who learned—by heart—his core vision and way of life. Then he sent these disciples out as apostles to teach and multiply his vision and way of life among ‘all the nations.’” Brian continues, “We have to produce generations of dedicated, courageous, and creative contemplative activists who will join God to bring radical healing and change to this damaged world, before it’s too late.”
Spend a few minutes contemplating Brian D. McLaren’s vision for the future of Christianity. What part of his message resonates with you? Do you sense any inner resistance to it? Read more: http://ow.ly/Ei1Y30q3Qqg
As we celebrate the new year, Fr. Richard Rohr shares his vision for the future of Christianity. He writes, “For our faith to evolve, we need to look at the old and original in order to build something new and novel.” Shane Claiborne, an evangelical activist, peacemaker, and part of the “new monasticism” movement, has undertaken that mission. Shane writes, “Rather than throw out the traditions, I want to know and study them, find the treasures and spit out the bones…. Institutions like the church are broken, just like people, and they too are being healed and redeemed…. Just as we critique the worst of the church, we should also celebrate her at her best. We need to mine the fields of church history and find the treasures, the gems. We need to celebrate the best that each tradition can bring—I want the fire of the Pentecostals, the love of Scripture of the Lutherans, the political imagination of the Anabaptists, the roots of the Orthodox, the mystery of the Catholics, and the zeal of the Evangelicals.”
What have you found to admire in other denominations or faith traditions? How has contemplating the gifts of the Spirit they embody enriched your own spiritual life or practice? Read more: http://ow.ly/h7Y730q3Qqf
Image: Healing of a Bleeding Woman (detail), Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, Rome, Italy
Father Richard Rohr believes that the future health of the church depends on its willingness to change its focus. He writes, “While Christian churches do much good, we have one huge pastoral problem that is making Christianity largely ineffective. Solid orthodox theology is sorely needed (and yes, I am obsessed with it), yet we clearly need good and compassionate pastoral and healing practices ten times more! ... Remember, healing was most of the work Jesus did. This fact is almost too obvious…. On the whole we need Christian people who are trained in, validated for, and encouraged to make home and hospital visits; do hospice work and jail ministry; support immigrants and refugees; help with soup kitchens or food pantries; counsel couples before, during, and after marriage; share child development resources with families; offer ministries of emotional, sexual, and relational healing; help with financial counseling; build low-cost housing; take care of the elderly; and run thrift centers…. Simply put, any notion of a future church must be a fully practical church that is concerned about getting the job of love done—and done better and better.”
What would it mean to “get the job of love done” in your community or parish, especially for those on the margins? Read more: http://ow.ly/Ved930q3Qqe
Over the years many of those who read Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations share with us their personal stories of love and transformation. As we continue to build a supportive, loving contemplative community, we invite you to use this online form to share a meaningful story about your experience with Richard's life-changing work. If you are open to it, sharing your #TalesofTransformation can help bring hope and healing to those who feel lost, lonely, rejected or are just longing for a deeper sense of connection. https://www.tfaforms.com/4771234
If Christ is the Alpha and Omega, even our ideas about Jesus must evolve and expand. Richard Rohr points out, “Christianity puts itself in a limited and precarious position when it is tied to any culture-bound Jesus or an expression of faith that does not include the Eternal Christ. Without a universal story line that offers grace and caring for all of creation, Jesus is kept small and seemingly inept. God’s care must be toward all creatures, or God ends up not being very caring at all, making things like water, trees, animals, and history itself accidental, trivial, or disposable. But grace is not a late arrival, appearing only two thousand years ago when Jesus came, or when a few lucky humans read his words in the Bible. God’s grace cannot be a random problem-solver doled out to the few and the virtuous—or it is hardly grace at all!”
Has contemplating the Universal Christ offered you greater access to the expansive and inclusive message of Jesus? Read more: http://ow.ly/NuBF30q3Qqd
Image: Healing of a Bleeding Woman (detail), Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, Rome, Italy
As this year draws to a close, Fr. Richard Rohr shares an encouraging message about endings and new beginnings. He writes, “God keeps creation both good and new—which means always going somewhere even better…forever evolving, yearning, developing, growing, and changing for the good…. Christ is both the Divine Radiance at the Beginning Big Bang and the Divine Allure drawing us into a positive future. We are thus bookended in a Personal Love—coming from Love and moving toward an ever more inclusive Love. Why do I think this is so important? Frankly, because without it we become very impatient with ourselves and others….. We expect people to show up at our doors fully transformed and holy before they can be welcomed in. But growth language says it is appropriate to wait, trusting that change of consciousness, what the Bible calls in Greek ‘metanoeite,’ can only come with time.”
How has contemplative practice increased your ability to wait patiently—for people, situations, and even your own heart—to heal and evolve? Have you sensed the allure of Divine Love pulling you forward? Read more: http://ow.ly/hXR530q3Qqc
Today’s contemplative practice comes to us from Rabbi Michael Lerner, a political activist and the editor of Tikkun, a Jewish interfaith magazine. He believes that education should encourage students to discover a fully embodied meaning of life. He writes, “Students would learn about the various ways people have sought to discover a…meaning for life. Students would study art and poetry, music and dance, world literature and philosophy, religions and forms of spirituality. They would be encouraged to consider their own paths for finding meaning, and to develop rituals, poetry, music, and dance that fit the lives they are shaping for themselves or as part of ongoing communities of meaning. Students would also be exposed to the range of human suffering, projects and strategies for ameliorating or reducing suffering, and…to the ways people have sought to find meaning through community action, mutual support, and love.”
What practices, contemplative or otherwise, have brought meaning and purpose to your life? Were they offered to you from your family or religious tradition or did you discover them later in life on your own? Would you be willing to share them with this community? Read more: http://ow.ly/WbiH30q3Q6p
Contemplative scholar Beatrice Bruteau shares Richard Rohr’s incarnational worldview and offers these thoughts: “We can say that God as Creator is incarnate as self-creating universe, including self-creating creatures within that universe, such as, for instance, ourselves as human beings…. We are part of this, creative contributors to this…and we bear some responsibility. We have to take our part in the work…. We have intelligence, we have empathy and capacity to feel for others and to care about them, we even have insight into the Ground [or Spirit] present in every being and calling for an appropriate form of absolute respect.” Father Richard concludes, “Because of our inherent dignity as children of God, we are empowered and called, like Jesus was, to create a more loving and compassionate world. Responding to this divine invitation might be the ultimate gift we could offer back to God this Christmas season.”
Has your connection to the physical world or your own body been deepened by a regular contemplative practice? What does that look like in practical ways? Read more: http://ow.ly/7abj30q3Q6o
Painting: Flight into Egypt (detail), Henry Ossawa Turner
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