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Ann ARbor

GOD vs. religion Boston

The Inner Meaning of Religion Charlotte

The Heart of God



Why We Get Sick Minneapolis

New Haven

New York
A publication of

The Holy Season of Philadelphia

Death & Rebirth

Spring 2011
Volume 3 | Issue 2 Providence
Display until May 31, 2011
“Even when they call us mad,
Mother Clare Watts when they call us subversives and communists
Father Peter Bowes

and all the epithets they put on us, we know
Rev. Margaret Klapperich
revmargaret@centersoflight.org we only preach the subversive witness of the Beatitudes,


which have turned everything upside down.”
Grace Tenner Design LLC

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY ~ Archbishop Oscar Romero, 

Rev. Meira Leonard
an advocate for the poor and marginalized,
EDITORS assassinated while serving Mass in El Salvador.
Rev. Rachel Gonzalez
Sister Camille Stikeleather

Rev. Timothy Lin

The Light is published four times annually

by the Order of Christ Sophia and is
distributed through regional
Centers of Light.

For Information on Local

Classes & Events
at the Centers of Light:
Centers of Light
Ann Arbor: 517.898.2303
Boston: 617.990.7411
Charlotte: 704.525.8310 The Centers of Light are Mystical Christian schools and communities
Chicago: 312.623.4418
Denver: 303.913.7053 dedicated to consciousness, spiritual growth, and empowerment.
Dolores: 970.882.2123
Durango: 970.882.2123
Milwaukee: 414.248.7405
Much like the spiritual communities that mystics such as St. Francis
Minneapolis: 612.205.5545
New Haven: 203.785.9085 of Assisi and Paramahansa Yogananda created, the Centers of
New York: 347.884.1709
Oakland: 510.207.6593 Light are shining, warm places for people searching for inner truth,
Philadelphia: 215.421.7821
Providence: 857 231 1920
Seattle: 206 525 8488
meaning, and direct relationship with God. In each of our 14 Centers
across the country, we teach, share, and cultivate spirituality through
Copyright 2011 by the Order of Christ
Sophia. All rights reserved. Facsimile sacraments, meditation, seminars, classes, and practical instruction in
reproduction, including photocopy or
xerographic reproduction, is strictly order to bring people into real, deep experiences of God. We also bring
prohibited under copyright laws.
these teachings weekly to Satellite Centers which are located near
established Centers of Light around the country.

A Spiritual Approach to Illness and Health
by Mother Clare Watts

You can think about illness worries, our bodies will still likely develop
and health in a variety of ways. The some malfunctions. Then we will have to
Western medicine approach maintains that deal with ill health.
we contribute to our health, to some degree,  
by refraining from smoking, by eating and There are other influences affecting our
drinking in moderation, and by getting health, too, such as the pesticides and
exercise and going to regular medical additives in our food, the pollution in the
check-ups. According to this school of air and the electromagnetic radiation we
thought, the genes we inherited also play a are constantly exposed to. All in all, most of
large, if not the largest, role in our state of the time, we cannot control nor figure out
health or illness. So, we are thereby at the why health issues come our way. What we
mercy of our genes. can do is accept everything that comes our
  way as a gift that brings us opportunities to
Other people may follow the ancient grow and serve others.
understanding that our health is a  
reflection of how good a person you are. In Unless we take our own lives, we will all Mother Clare Watts
this line of thinking, if you get ill it must live exactly as long as we are meant to live. is a mystic, ordained Priest, Master
be bad karma for having not been a good Illness and accidents don’t shorten our Teacher, and Co-Director of the
person. In many societies, this was used to lives. They are only the means by which
Order of Christ Sophia. She has
justify not helping those who were ill and we come to our death at the appointed
her Masters Degree in Counseling
destitute and self-righteously taking credit time. We therefore do not need to worry
Psychology and practiced as a
if one did have good health and ample about illnesses having power over us. They
means. do not have any power that God does not Jungian-trained psychotherapist.

  allow them to have. So they must also fit Continually drawing from her
In alternative health and spiritual circles, into God’s plan for us. We will not live education and her experience,
a similar take on illness has re-emerged, one day longer or one day less than what including 17 years working as
carrying with it some of the same problems God has appointed for us to live. So we a professional midwife, Mother
that the earlier version had. We do know can relax and take the good health or ill
Clare has garnered a reputation for
and accept that body, mind and heart are health that comes our way with gratitude
her clarity of vision. She lectures
all in a dynamic relationship and that our and faith.  Know that this must be what is
nationally on Mystical Christianity.
bodies are not separate from our minds best for us and that it therefore must be an
and hearts. We know that our bodies have avenue for being of service. She has four grown children and

a wisdom of their own that we often don’t   lives in Dolores, Colorado where she
listen to. Even if we did want to listen to What a great gift it is to settle into such oversees the the efforts
them, we usually don’t know how to hear a state of faith! Then we can pray for and to expand and grow the
and understand them. So at some point, accept the strength of body, mind and heart Sophia Peace Center.
even if we are being very careful about our to embrace the gifts as they come our way,
physical well-being, listening to our bodies both the pleasant and the not so pleasant
as closely as we can, and have spent years ones. God is good. So all that comes from
clearing out of our hearts and minds old God will be for our good. Then we can be
resentments, old anger and fear, sorrow and in peace.
The Path to the Heart of God

Devotion is the heart of “devotion” is “vow.” Deep and transformative

any spiritual life. Devotion means love, devotion requires commitment, sacrifice
commitment and constancy toward God. and a great deal of letting go. The kind of
Without devotion we can theorize about God, devotion that truly transforms us requires
but we will never know the being that created that we put God first. To put God first, many
us. We can only understand the nature of things must fall away. We cannot keep our
God by attuning to it, immersing ourselves identification with our bodies, families, jobs
in it and humbly praying to be drawn into the or culture if we want to have union with the
infinitely deep presence of God. heart of God. We must extricate ourselves
  from all of the fears, distractions and
Our lives are full of things that draw us attachments to our external world in order
outward. We are so distracted by the needs to have powerful and consciousness-altering
and problems our physical body creates experiences of God. This does not mean that
that we neglect to attend to the most real we run off to the mountains and become is an ordained Priest and Director

and relevant aspects of our nature – our soul hermits. It means that we are in the world but of the Center of Light, Minneapolis.
and God within. Devotion draws us back to not of the world. She began her study with the Order
the heart of God. Devotion plugs us into the   of Christ Sophia in 1999 and has
energy, power and love of our Creator. It is Unfortunately, we have a powerful inclination been serving as a Priest since 2002.
through devotion that we are trained in the to develop ego attachment to ideas, objects
She holds a Doctoral degree in
perspective of God. and people. This makes it difficult not
psychology and is currently working
  to be “of the world” while being in it. We
as a psychologist in Minneapolis.
When we lift our hearts and minds to God need the help of ones who have done the
and we are drawn into the loving embrace work, who have come out of the world and
of our Father/Mother, we can begin to given themselves into the heart of God.
see things as God sees them. The human Real spiritual teachers have the skills,
perspective is so deluded and warped that consciousness and humility to guide us
it causes us to be in a nearly constant state through the snares of ego attachment and
of attack and defense. When human beings the distractions of the world to develop a
align their identity with their bodies, we place of inner quiet, peace and humility
have war, bigotry, self-worship, insecurity within ourselves. In this quiet place, we
and alienation from others. When we instead will come to meet God and we will be
align ourselves with the mind and heart transformed by the power of the love-nature
of God, we become compassionate, active, of God. It is then that we will know the real
self-responsible, humble and universally meaning of devotion.
connected to all of God’s creation.
Devotion, however, is not just prayer or
the honoring of God. The root of the word
The Inner Meaning of Religion
by Father Peter Bowes

All the world religions called God the No Thing, or Suchness, or

teach that within human beings is a Bliss, or Emptiness as a way to strive for
center of peace and love. Not all the a much deeper union beyond words and
religions speak of God, but each one thought. But in all spiritual practice there
strives to attain an inner experience of is this something that we experience when
bliss, peace, love and joy in the heart. The we get close to the peace and love as we
place of the heart is more symbolic than embrace light and truth. Words disturb
literal since the source of all peace, light the serenity of the experience, and yet the
and love comes from the center of our experience is life-changing, tangible and
being. The way to approach this center real to those who enter there.
For over 25 years, can be varied, while the actual experience  
Father Peter Bowes of union with the center of one’s being is The sad state of our planet is that religion
has devoted his life in service to the same for all. The subjective feelings has become a mental convenience where
about the experience might vary, but the we place some nostalgic sentiment and
God as an ordained Priest and
language of all the mystics and saints meager hope for a life in the hereafter.
Master Teacher. As Co-Director
as they describe their experience has People adhere to religious beliefs merely
of the Order of Christ Sophia, he
the same poetic and noble language to fulfill an obligation or do so without
teaches the ministers and guides across cultures regardless of the spiritual any personal examination of what
the Centers of Light around the practice. When mystics and saints matters, adopting the religion of their
country. Known for his charisma describe their experience of peace, unity ancestors without any discrimination
and sense of humor, Father Peter or God, they speak of oneness, of stillness, skills whatsoever. Religion has become
is also an accomplished musician of simplicity, of union with their one an avalanche of words and mental
true love, of bliss that transcends time. conceptions that hold up a rickety house.
and author who has composed
All agree that the descriptions do not do When the Spirit moved in the words of the
twelve albums and four books about
justice to the experience. The word “awe” teachers that brought the religions, there
Mystical Christian teachings. He
might well capture the experience but was life and vitality. These fresh words
holds a Masters and a Doctorate only barely. were repeated and held in people’s hearts
degree in Educational Psychology.   and guided their actions. This changed
Father Peter lives at the Center of Religions were designed to unite people countless people’s lives. But years of
Light, Chicago. back to God after the fall from grace and memory and practice dried up the living
the separation that error and selfishness Spirit of the teachings, and the reality
caused humanity. Religion means of the teachings became lifeless words
to rebind back to our Creator. Some repeated and memorized after millennia.
religions refused to depict God in picture, The form of the teachings became the
and some refused to name God out of religions and the Spirit was known to only
reverence for the pervasive power of the a few brave souls who sought sincerely
experience of the divine. These religions and courageously to know firsthand the

experience the teacher demonstrated. Meditation and deep presence is the love of God animating the human soul. No one
devotion became the chosen way for a select few who were bold can experience this unless they are pure and unless they humble
enough to reject settling for words alone. They wanted to know their mind and body. When you experience this deep connection
personally the love of God or experience real consciousness. and embrace, you will never be the same again. You will know
They were willing to pay the price of getting out of their ego peace and never fear anything again.
attachments and entering into the stillness beyond desire and
deeper than thought. Only a few people have the courage to let someone who knows
  lead them into this experience. It is available to everyone, but
God resides inside everything but cannot be discerned by the road cannot be found by the ego or the mind. The road
the conscious mind until our mind is humbled in order to be or path can only be found if you let someone lead you there.
brought into right relationship with the divine. Body, mind The humility required in order to trust someone to lead you
and emotions must be subordinate to soul and God Self. separates those who willfully want to do everything themselves
Discipline of the body, mind and emotions is a pre-requisite to and those who are allowed in because of their tested purity and
experiencing God within. All the mystics speak of humbling love of God. God is inside each person beckoning you to come
the flesh, desires and mind in order to open to something much close and let God lead you.
deeper and much more profound. It takes a hero of love to
journey inside where God resides. Those who go within only
part of the way experience some peace and stillness but do not
experience the embrace of love that real meditators and mystics
experience. This love that flows through us is so profound it
stops all thought and crushes all ambitions in its presence. This

se rv ic es classes
Sunday Service introduction to meditation &
Open to All • Followed by Brunch christian mysticism

Not your average Sunday Service! Experience spirit moving Understanding the laws of the universe isn’t easy, which is
through songs, prayers, and powerful sermons that bring you why the Centers of Light offer six sessions that explore the
into closer connection to God — the God inside your heart, foundations of Christian Mysticism. Open to all, this class gives
inside your soul, to the God within. Each Service begins with an overview of what Christian Mysticism is and what mystics
a silent meditation followed by a sermon relating directly to do, and, most importantly, it offers participants a chance to
the spiritual needs of the community, finally culminating in a experience the spiritual world first-hand. There is no restriction
transformative Communion and personal blessing. on faith. You only have to believe that there is most likely a
power and intelligence that is higher than human intelligence.
Free of charge.
Daily Meditation & Communion

The beauty of God’s grace can be experienced with meditation bible contemplation
and Communion every morning of the week. We offer a 30
minute meditation followed by a reading and Communion It is a fairly common experience to read a passage from the
service, which is a wonderful way to develop and deepen your New Testament and ask, “I wonder what that means?” Bible
meditation practice. There is no better way to start your day Contemplation at the Centers of Light helps unravel the deeper
than to receive the love, light and peace of Jesus and Mary. All meaning in Jesus’ teachings by exploring our inner and outer
are welcome. life experiences and how they relate to the parables Jesus
taught. As a result, class members discover how these teachings
relate directly to their own lives and experiences. This class is
Evening Prayers open to graduates of Introduction to Meditation and Christian
All are welcome to join us in ending the day with evening
prayers and songs. Community members from the Center
tree of life
of Light come together to thank God, Jesus and Mary for
the blessings of the day and offer songs of gratitude and
The Tree of Life lessons are written for the purpose of unfolding
thanksgiving. Join us in spreading light into the world with this
the soul alchemically and opening up spiritual consciousness
form of joyful devotion.
to the wisdom of God. Topics such as “What is light?,” “What
is love?,” or “What is the Creator?” are presented in a simple,
practical way that allows students to understand, discuss, and
contemplate their meaning. These ancient teachings are paired
with powerful hands-on experiences, giving students a tangible
way to connect to the reality of God’s spirit and power. This
class is open to graduates of Introduction to Meditation and
Christian Mysticism.

sem i n a r s gatherings
master teacher seminars conscious movie nights

Seminars from the Master Teachers of the Order of Christ Have you ever walked out of a theater affected by a powerful
film and wished for a forum to discuss it? If your answer is yes,
Sophia are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to receive spiritual then movie nights at the Centers of Light are for you! These
teachings that can move mountains in your life. The old saying, monthly events provide the perfect way for people to connect
“one day with a Teacher is worth 200 years on your own” applies deeply after watching inspiring movies and share how our lives,
attitudes, and perceptions are challenged and changed. At
to these enlightening and life-changing events. Experience it the Centers of Light we dedicate the following films to non-
for yourself by checking the enclosed Schedule of Events or profits that support causes related to the theme of the film. This
quarter, our offerings include:
contacting a Priest at your local Center of Light.
MARCH Black Gold
Supporting Fair Trade
APRIL Climate Refugees
Spiritual Transformation:
Supporting The American Refugee Committee
The Way to Happiness
MAY Conscientious Objector
Supporting Center on Conscience and War
Many people fall into the trap of chasing after happiness in the
Our intention for showing these films is to bring awareness
external world. We become drawn to the allure of successful
to the challenges facing our world everyday. With this new
careers, respect from our peers, beautiful spouses and children, sensitivity, we gain the power to make conscious choices
but often the result is not what we expected. Why is it that even that help change the course of world events. Any voluntary
donations will be promptly sent to the organizations mentioned
when we seemingly have everything, life still feels empty? In
above. In addition, we dedicate prayers to these causes in order
this unique seminar, learn the true way to happiness, one that is to support them materially and spiritually. We invite you to join
simple and filled with the love that you’ve been looking for. us in any way, helping to change our world into one of peace,
justice and love.

prayers for peace

creating your life
On the first Wednesday of every month, the members of all 14
Centers of Light pray for peace, creating a surge of positive
Some of us travel through life knowing we are in charge of our energy for people all over the world. Open to all faiths, it is a
destiny and that everything in our life is there by our choice. chance for hearts and minds to make a real difference in the
world. People pray for the cause of the month: healing, spiritual
We call ourselves “co-creators.” Co-creators know that when awakening, love, solutions to hunger crises, war — anything that
you take on the responsibility for your life, then you get all the the world needs in order to become a place of peace. Join us!
power to change it—to change it into exactly what you want it
friday night lights
to be. In this seminar you will learn how to use the laws of the
universe for your highest good and how to make a connection to Some Centers of Light hold a guided meditation event at
the Divine that will bring the fulfillment you have always been the end of the week called “Friday Night Lights.” Join us for
a wonderful close to your work week and opening to your
seeking. Come and learn how to be a conscious co-creator—and
weekend. This event varies week to week, however it always
become empowered to change your life! begins with guided meditation, followed by an enjoyable
group activity. Around the country, each Friday Night Lights
is different as we move with Spirit and enjoy everything from
drumming around a bonfire, to watching movies, to playing
games. You can expect to leave this gathering with renewed
energy and an uplifted spirit, which will positively influence the
rest of your weekend.
Our spiritual
community is a place
where real, meaningful
conversation can happen,
thanks to the high level of
integrity and honesty in
every relationship. Spiritual
community gives us the
opportunity to learn, grow
and support each other in
our individual journeys to
God, no matter how young
or old you are, whether you
are single or married, with
children or not. Activities
such as camping trips, movie
nights, picnics and cookouts
make spiritual community at
the Centers of Light an even
more dynamic and vibrant
part of life.
Life as a Novice: In Their Own Words
After college and after being in the working world for almost to this path. God heard my desire and answered my prayer when
a year, I started thinking that there had to be more to life.  I I found the Center of Light, which was just down the street from
wondered what my purpose was. I felt pretty sure it wasn’t just where I was living. Something felt different about the Center. It
to think about myself for my whole life.  I had a good job, the felt good, real, loving and deep.  I felt so happy to have found
exact job I was looking for after college. I had friends and a pretty the Center and then the Novice program.  I remember when I
comfortable, typical life, but I felt something was missing.  I first heard about the idea of a live-in spiritual program - it was
had this desire for something, which I couldn’t quite put my at a local yoga ashram but it was for people between the ages
finger on. This is when I started searching for God (but I didn’t of 18-24, and I was older. So my heart skipped a beat when I first
know this at the time).  I was drawn to the self-help and spiritual heard about the Novice Program with the Centers of Light – a
sections of books stores, longing to connect and find what I was live-in spiritual program. I had a desire to go deeper but didn’t
searching for. I did a “retreat” weekend for myself which involved know how. Being in the Novice Program is an amazing chance
a self-help workbook, a journal, beer and animal crackers, and I for me to heal, to learn how to love and be loved, to go deeper in
made a life “to do” list and cried a lot – I felt lost and also very my spiritual development, and to learn to connect to God inside.
sad.  I had no idea what I was doing – I just knew I needed and It’s were I’m learning to be the person God made me to be and
wanted something more. I kept searching for years - I read books to find inner peace so that I can bring peace to the world.  In
on spiritually, mindfulness, meditation, etc., attended various the program I’m learning how to truly connect with people and
workshops and classes, checked out different churches and also have the chance to work through my fears and insecurities of
thought finding my soul mate would quench this longing and not being good enough.  I feel so grateful to God for hearing my
desire I had – but none of this did the trick. heart and leading me to where I can learn to shine. 
~Joy from Oakland
After 8 years of searching, I found what I was yearning for, the
path to God inside and a spiritual community that introduced me

The Lenten season is a season of cleansing and
purifying. It is a joyous and deep season in which we celebrate
the heroic love of Jesus that has saved us from the sadness
and heaviness of our separation from God’s love. We honor the
gift of Jesus’ enormous love and sacrifice with a presentation of
love in return.  Our fasting and abstaining during this season
is not a martyred deprivation, but rather a heartfelt offering of
love and appreciation. When we connect to the hearts of our
Masters, Jesus and Mary, we can feel how joyfully they give of
themselves for our wellbeing. We have the opportunity in the
Lenten season to practice this joy of giving as a reflection of
their perfect gift to us.
We cannot truly know the gift of Jesus’ love for us if we do
not make space to receive this gift. This space is created in
three ways. The first is by letting go of emotional and mental
patterns that make us unable to feel and accept the love of
God. The second is by sacrificing things we enjoy and fasting
once a week in order to honor and show gratitude for the gift
given, and in some small way, to join in Jesus’ gift to the world.
Lastly, we prepare for his gift by adding a spiritual practice or
commitment which prepares us to really see, feel and accept the
immeasurable gift of forgiveness, love and rebirth that is offered
by Jesus and Mary this season.  
The more we give to the process of letting go, clearing out
and pruning the dead branches of our mental, emotional and
spiritual life, the more we are prepared for the new life which
comes at Easter.
At the Centers of Light, we celebrate this season of Lent on a
different schedule than other churches because we calculate
the day of Easter based on cycles of the sun rather than the
Lent~ moon. The Hebrew calendar is based on full and new moons and

The Holy Season of Death therefore Easter has been calculated based on the placement of
Passover in the Jewish calendar. Although Jesus’ death occurred

and Rebirth directly after Passover, we have found that the energetic and
symbolic meaning of the season is more aligned with the
symbology of season change than with the moon cycles. When
Jesus willingly died and rose again, he not only forgave the sins
Our fasting and abstaining during this season of all souls, but also demonstrated the ongoing spiritual pattern
is not a martyred deprivation, but rather a of transformation from death into re-birth. Therefore our Easter
heartfelt offering of love and appreciation. celebration, calculated based on the placement of the Spring
Equinox rather than Passover, aligns with the energetic patterns
and symbols of the sun cycle, bringing forth the new life of
spring after the death of winter.
We invite you to participate in the patterns of sacrifice and
pruning away of the old in order to fully experience the new life
that comes with the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and
the new life he offers you in this season.
Ten Ways to Participate
in the Glory of Spring
Spring is the season of new beginnings. The ice melts, the ground thaws, flow-
ers blossom and nature comes alive in a celebration of life. This year, decide to
be conscious of what you would like to have melt and thaw and what you would
like to have blossom and come alive in you.  Here is our list of 10 ways you can
be an active participant in the glory of the spring.
1. Choose a negative habit or pattern and let it go.
2. Choose a positive replacement for this pattern and practice it daily.
3. Stop and smell the flowers, literally.  Let the beauty of nature connect you to
God, the source of all beauty.
4. Find a charity that you believe in and donate time or money to their cause
every month.
5. Look for opportunities to demonstrate kindness to neighbors, colleagues,
friends and strangers. 
6. Pray for 5 people or 5 causes of peace in the world each day.
7. Meditate at least 10 minutes each morning or night. Tune into the love, life
and light that God pours out to all things and let this love, life and light fill
8. When the season of Lent and Easter arrives, participate by letting what is
negative die and what is positive and real in you rise up.
9. During Lent, tune into Jesus’ great love that motivated the sacrifice he
made with his death and resurrection. Let yourself really feel how much
you are loved.
10. Practice gratitude by appreciating all that you have been given and all the
goodness that is yet to come.  

Want to Learn More?

Sign up Gather Join us

for a free 6-week with us on Sunday for a half for our monthly seminars

introductory series: hour of meditation followed to meet our Teachers and

Introduction to Meditation by singing, a sermon, and Priests.

and Christian Mysticism. Holy Communion.

See our Schedule of Events on pages 8 and 9 for all Classes, Seminars, Services, and Community gatherings.
After the darkness comes
the light.
Embrace your new life with
new music from
Father Peter’s latest album,
Day Breaks.

Available on iTunes.

Filled with wisdom, fire, love and practical

serves as a guidebook for those seeking
God. In each lesson Mother Clare acts as
a bridge between where we are and where
we find God by weaving together her deep
understanding of the great mystical truths
with the practical steps one must take to
take to cross that bridge.

Available at Amazon.com

Present this coupon and receive $10 off

your next Seminar with
any Center of Light across the country. valid through 6/31/2011
Healing the Split in the Psyche

Why are there so many advertisements

and guarantees about healing but so
few people truly feel healed?

This summer, uncover the hidden

What are the keys to a transformation
doorways to your heart and psyche and
which is deep, real and permanent? 
learn to open them up to allow life and
love to flow into you and through you.
What do you need to do to be entirely
healed and free of your past?
Give yourself the gift of moving toward
true peace & union with God, and get all
your deep questions about life and spirit

July 7-11, July 14-18, July 21-25, 2011

Please contact Rev. Gabrielle Fisher for registration information
312-623-4418 • revgabrielle@centersoflight.org