- This issue begins with information about an online workshop coming up on Sunday. It carries the somewhat startling title, A Gorilla with a Smart Phone. Explanation below.
- Next, we let you know about a four-day online seminar coming up next week from the WCCM: One Heart, One Hope, Indigenous Wisdom and the Future of Humanity.
- More than 170 of you participated in our 2020 Member Survey, and we share the interesting results with you in this issue.
- Next comes our monthly listing of additional online and in-person contemplative events and retreats in our region
- This month’s Insights come from Richard Rohr, the Dalai Lama, Thomas Keating and Rowan Williams.
We would love to hear from you! Please give us your thoughts on Spirit Journal and any of its contents by emailing the editor at the address provided at the end of the newsletter.
This Sunday: A Gorilla with a Smart Phone – Mertonian Reflections on Political Life in 2020
In a short review for New Blackfriars (republished in Faith & Violence), Thomas Merton took on the question of human nature and asked, “Is Man a Gorilla with a Gun?” He asked whether it really can be true that we have no choice but to be in conflict. The passage of decades makes the question seem even more interesting. The weapons have changed, but the gorilla is the same. Have we no choice but to be in conflict?
Join us via Zoom at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, as Steve Millies, associate professor of public theology and director of The Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, explores this timely question. The presentation is cosponsored by Contemplative Outreach Chicago and the Chicago Chapter of the International Thomas Merton Society.
Steven P. Millies trained as a political theorist at The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). He is a regular, online columnist with U.S. Catholic Magazine. His commentaries have appeared in America Magazine, Commonweal, the National Catholic Reporter, and in several newspapers. He is the author of Good Intentions: A History of Catholic Voters’ Road from Roe to Trump and Joseph Bernardin: Seeking Common Ground.
There is no charge for this workshop; you have the option of making a free-will donation, if you like, during the registration process. Registration will close on Sunday October 18 at 10:00 AM.
Next Week – John Main 2020 Seminar: One Heart, One Hope, Indigenous Wisdom and the Future of Humanity
This four-day online event offers an opportunity to explore ancestral wisdom and spirituality to chart a
Since 1984, the annual John Main Seminar has been organized by the
For additional information and registration, please click here.
Insights from the 2020 Member Survey
Thanks to everyone who participated in our 2020 Member Survey! More than 170 responses were received, providing an insightful window into the practices and interests of the people who make up Contemplative Outreach Chicago.
Here are some of the things we learned:
- 94% say that they practice Centering Prayer. 24% practice twice a day; 40% once a day; 17% once a week or more. More than half have been practicing CP for 5+ years and almost half participate in a prayer group.
- Just over half practice the Welcoming Prayer. This practice seems to be growing, however – 19% say they have started practicing the Welcoming Prayer during the past five years.
- More than 2/3 practice Lectio Divina to some extent – 35% practice Lectio at least weekly.
- 12% of the respondents participated in our recent Living Flame 1 program and eight have done so at an earlier time. 16% would be interested in participating if LF1 were offered again and 41% would like to learn more about it. Only three have participated in Living Flame 2 in the past, but 20% are interested in doing so in the future and almost half would like to learn more about the program.
- 19% say they would be interested in learning about being a Prayer Group Facilitator.
- We asked about three different topics being considered for future programs, and all were of interest: 50% say they are “very interested” in Mystics; 41% in Contemporary Issues; and 39% in Wisdom programs
- Spirit Journal and our website (centeringprayerchicago.org) seem to be providing value: three out of five say they read the newsletter every month and two out of five say they visit the website at least three times a year.
These findings about your interests and preferences will help to define our future programs and services. Thanks again for participating!
Other Highlighted Events and Resources
Retreats and Events from The Well
The Well Spirituality Center in La Grange Park is offering an ambitious program of contemplative retreats and special events via Zoom. Their intent is “to connect with new people, fascinating ideas, and expansive spirituality from all over the country and around the world.”
Here are two examples:
- Inter-Racial Relationship Circle – In this time when our hearts are being broken open by the injustice of systemic racism, we hope to gather in inter-racial groups of open-hearted individuals who have the courage to hold each others’ stories, build community, and imagine a more just future.Tuesdays, 6:30pm, October 27-December 15.
- Advent at Home Retreat, Monday, Nov. 30 – Monday, Dec. 14, Pat Bergen CSJ and other Spiritual Directors
For information on these and other offerings, please visit The Well’s website.
This Saturday: Enneagram Workshop at Healing Gardens
On October 17, Healing Gardens offers a workshop that will help you gain a greater understanding of yourself and others using the Enneagram – a powerful, spiritual tool for transformation that will help you overcome inner barriers and realize your unique gifts. The presenter will be Enneagram expert JoAnne McElroy, life coach/spiritual director. For further information and registration for this and other events, please visit the Healing Gardens website.
Four-Day Advent Retreat, Onsite and Zoom Options, Racine Wisconsin, December 10-13
This retreat offers two options: you may participate onsite or via Zoom. It is presented by Contemplative Outreach of Wisconsin at the beautiful Siena Retreat Center on the shore of Lake Michigan. Advent is a season of waiting, listening, and watching for God to move in unexpected ways in our lives and world. The retreat will explore the familiar characters of the Advent story from a contemplative perspective. How can these people of old invite us into a deeper contemplative stance in our advent journey?
The retreat will be facilitated by the Rev. Dr. Shawn Kafader, an ordained non-denominational Christian minister, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Certified Expressive Arts Therapist and Certified Art for Healing Facilitator. Shawn has engaged in various contemplative practices for over 30 years and is a commissioned presenter with Contemplative Outreach Ministries where he has offered workshops and extended retreats. Shawn has a background in music, art, healing prayer, and spiritual guidance.
For further information and registration, please visit the Contemplative Outreach of Wisconsin website. Scholarships are available.
For more information about the Zoom option for this retreat, contact Ann Koerner, email@example.com,
Centering Prayer Groups via Zoom
Here are four invitations to gather with Chicago-area Centering Prayer groups via Zoom. Listed below are the groups, times, and contact information.
- St. Clement’s Centering Prayer Group every Saturday 9:30-10:30am. Contact Bill Epperly at firstname.lastname@example.org
- St. Katharine Drexel Church every Tuesday 8:30-9:30am. Contact Lori Dressel at email@example.com
- The Healing Gardens second Friday of each month, 10:30am-12:30pm. Contact Deb Marquis at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Permanent Zoom group (not associated with an in-person group) Tuesday 6:00 – 7:00pm. Contact Rose Magiera for link and phone number – email@example.com
Bill Epperly has also invited everyone to Interspiritual Sundays which gathers Sunday from 9:00-10:00am and Mindfulness Tuesdays 7:30-9:00pm. This Sunday morning’s session will focus on an interspiritual message spoken by Thomas Keating shortly before he died in 2018. You may contact Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Other Centering Prayer groups may also wish to consider meeting online for now. If you need help in setting up, please contact Sandy Janowski: sandyandkali@
Offerings in the Contemplative Outreach Meditation Chapel
The national website of our parent organization features an Online Meditation Chapel that is very easy to use and provides the opportunity to see, hear and join in silent prayer with others from all over the world. You must first register to attend the meetings in the Chapel. You can do that by using the calendar link. Once you know what chapel your desired meeting is in, use the chapel link.
Meditation Groups – Groups meet via Zoom at all hours of the day and night and are open to anyone. There is no cost/fee to attend, charging is prohibited. A friend writes: “I have been attending meditation in the virtual Keating Chapel and had a lovely experience. The facilitator was very good!” For further information, visit the calendar or chapel listing.
Healing Together: A Gathering of Consciousness – In silence we focus on an intention for peace and healing in 2020. The format is an opening prayer, a short reading, two 25-minute sessions of silent prayer with a short break in-between and closing prayer. These sessions are scheduled every Thursday from 11:00am to 12:00pm Central Time (US & Ca) in the Thomas Keating Chapel with Mary Lapham. You can contact Mary at email@example.com.
Please let us know about any additional events and resources you’re aware of. Write to: news@
Faith is not for overcoming obstacles; it is for experiencing them—all the way through!
– Richard Rohr
There is a saying in Tibetan, “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.” No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.
– Dalai Lama XIV
God will bring people and events into our lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the evolution of His life in us.
– Thomas Keating
Silence is letting what there is be what it is. In that sense it has to do profoundly with God: the silence of simply being. We experience that at times when there is nothing we can say or do that would not intrude on the integrity and the beauty of that being.
– Rowan Williams
Please write in to contribute your ideas or to comment on any of the items in Spirit Journal. Let us know if you are aware of an upcoming event you think others should know about, or send us an inspirational quote you’d like to share, or information about a book, website, podcast, or video you recommend. You can contribute by emailing the newsletter editor at news@