Kataphatic or Apophatic Prayer?

by Jim Manney

Did you know that Ignatian prayer is “kataphatic” as opposed to “apophatic?”  Neither did I.

Actually, these fancy words point to a useful distinction.  “Kataphatic” prayer has content; it uses words, images, symbols, ideas. “Apophatic” prayer has no content. It means emptying the mind of words and ideas and simply resting in the presence of God. Centering prayer is apophatic. Ignatian prayer is mostly kataphatic.

That’s an oversimplification. Here’s an article by Frederick McLeod, SJ that explains the details.



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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Latest posts by Jim Manney (see all)

May 5, 2009

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