Easter is the awakening of divine life in us. “Christ is risen!” is not
merely the cry of all the people of God throughout the centuries who
have realized Christ rising in them, not only in the form of emotional
enthusiasm, but in the form of unshakable conviction. The light of
Christ reveals the fact of our abiding union with him and its potential
to transform every aspect of our lives.
. . . The resurrection of Jesus is the first day of the New Creation.
The events following the resurrection and the various appearances of
Jesus to his disciples and friends are used in the liturgy to help us
understand the significance of this central Mystery of our faith.
. . . In the Christian scheme of things, the movement from the human
condition to divine transformation requires the mediation of a personal
relationship with God. The personal love of Jesus facilitates the growth
of this relationship. The experience of being loved by Him draws the
Christian out of all selfishness into deeper levels of self-surrender.
. . . The forgiveness of sins and the consequent restoration of
friendship with God is the great triumph of Jesus’ sacrifice. This is
the true security that every human heart yearns for. Jesus’ sacrifice
frees us from the separate self-sense and from the alienation that flows
from it. This is the peace that the world cannot give. The peace of
Christ comes from the inner experience of his resurrection, the
realization of the union of our true self with the Ultimate Reality. . .
After speaking with them, the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven and
took his seat at God’s right hand. The Eleven went forth and preached
everywhere. (Mark 16:19-20)
By becoming a human being Christ annihilated the dichotomy between
matter and spirit. In the Person of the Divine-human Being, a continuum
between the divine and the human has been established. Thus, God’s plan
is not only to spiritualize the material universe, but to make matter
itself divine. . . . The grace bestowed on us by the Ascension of Jesus
is the divinization of our humanity. Our individuality is permeated by
the Spirit of God through the grace of the Ascension and more
specifically through the grace of Pentecost. Thus, we in Christ, are
also annihilating the dichotomy between matter and spirit. Our life is a
mysterious interpenetration of material experience, spiritual reality
and the divine Presence.
The key to being a Christian is to know Jesus Christ with the whole of
our being. It is important to know his sacred humanity through our
senses and to reflect upon it with our reason, to treasure his teaching
and example in our imagination and memory, and to imitate him by a life
of moral integrity. But this is only the beginning. It is to the
transcendent potential in ourselves – to our mind which opens up to
unlimited truth, and to our will which reaches out for unlimited love –
that Christ addresses himself in the Gospel with particular urgency.
Not only is it important to know Jesus Christ with the whole of our
being; it is also important to know Jesus Christ in the whole of his
being. We must know Christ, first of all, in his sacred humanity and
historical reality and more, precisely, in his passion, which was the
culminating point of his divinity. The essential note of his passion is
the emptying of his divinity. We enter into his emptying by accepting
the emptying process in our own life, by laying aside our false self and
by living in the presence of God, the source of our being.
We must know Christ, however, not only in his human nature – his
passion, and emptying – but also in his divinity. This is the grace of
the resurrection. It is the empowerment to live his risen life. It is
the grace not to sin. It is the grace to express his risen life in the
face of our inner poverty without at the same time ceasing to feel it.
The grace of the Ascension offers a still more incredible union, a more
entrancing invitation to unbounded life and love. This is the invitation
to enter into the Cosmic Christ – into his divine person, the Word of
God, who has always been present in the world . . . This is the Christ
who disappeared in his Ascension beyond the clouds, not into some
geographical location, but into the heart of all creation. In
particular, he has penetrated the very depths of our being, our separate
self-sense has melted into his divine Person, and now we can act under
the direct influence of his Spirit. Thus, even if we drink a cup of soup
or walk down the street, it is Christ living and acting in us,
transforming the world from within. This transformation appears in the
guise of ordinary things – in the guise of our seemingly insignificant
. . . The grace of the Ascension is the triumphant faith that believes
that God’s will is being done no matter what happens. It believes that
creation is already glorified, though in a hidden manner, as it awaits
the full revelation of the children of God.
The grace of the Ascension enables us to perceive the irresistible power
of the Spirit transforming everything into Christ despite any and all
appearances to the contrary. In the misery of the ghetto, the
battlefield, the concentration camp; in the family torn by dissension;
in the loneliness of the orphanage, old-age home, or hospital ward –
whatever we see that seems to be disintegrating into the grosser forms
of evil – the light of the Ascension is burning with irresistible power.
This faith finds Christ not only in the beauty of nature, art, human
friendship and the service of others, but also in the malice and
injustice of people or institutions, and in the inexplicable suffering
of God for humanity, a hunger that he intends to satisfy.
. . . “Christ is all in all” – meaning now, not just in the future. At
this very moment we too have the grace to see Christ’s light shining in
our hearts, to feel his absorbing Presence within us, and to perceive in
every created thing – even in the most disconcerting – the presence of
his light, love and glory.
from The Mystery of Christ . . . . The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience"
NEW GOVERNING BOARD IN CO LTD.
An announcement was made in the Dec. Newsletter of CO Ltd. re the
transition from the former Circle of Service to a new Governing Board
“on behalf of all the individuals and all the groups that make up the
Contemplative Outreach community. The Board is now separate from
Management but collaborates closely with it through Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler,
whose title is now Executive Director.” Its functions include: setting
the overall direction for CO, approving the budget, and hiring/managing
the Executive Director. Like most non-profit boards, it is not involved
in daily operations.
Fr. Carl Arico, a member of the CO leadership team for many, many years
stepped down from his position, believing in the wisdom of passing on
the torch to other volunteers who are willing to serve the organization.
The new members of the Governing Board are Mary Dwyer (Chairperson),
Nick Cole, Lois Snowden, Tom Smith, Thomas Hall, Fr. Gilbert Walker and
Kathy Di Fede. As a primary oversight group, the Board embodies the
vision and mission of CO and upholds the spiritual and service aspects
of CO in harmony with the CO Vision, Theological and Administrative
GOD IS ALREADY HERE
By Fr. Thomas Keating
We used to think that time and space were limited. But now we know the
galaxies are going beyond space as we know it and are going away so fast
that in another generation, we are told, their light will no longer be
seen by planet earth. They are travelling faster than light, and will
soon get so far away that their light can never again get back to us.
So take a good look at the sky. It’s our last chance to see the oldest
galaxies. Where are they going? We don’t know. The realization that we
know very little about the universe grows as we experience the presence
of God everywhere. When we see God everywhere, we don’t care about
knowledge. That divine presence enables us to forget ourselves and enter
into collaboration with the creation of the universe. Apparently we have
been given an enormous capacity to affect it. We are accountable for
everyone else in the human family and for all living things. For all
practical purposes, how we treat other people is what we are doing to
God is already here. Hence, to search for God at a certain point in our
spiritual evolution is a mistake. It is no longer the proper time for
that kind of effort. The most productive effort is to accept the endless
humiliations of the false self. The spiritual journey is not a career,
but a succession of “diminutions of self,” as Teilhard de Chardin put
it. This has nothing to do with the neurosis of a low self-image.
It is simply the fact that we are completely dependent on the love of
God. We are always in the arms of the beloved, whatever we may feel or
A new asceticism for people of good will might be the practice of
goodness; that is, just being good to everybody. It presupposes the
immense evolutionary process from matter in its most primitive form to
the transformation of developing human intelligence and freedom into the
divine life itself. God, out of his infinite mercy, made himself equal
to us in the Incarnation by identifying with the human condition. God
makes us equal to him by transforming us into his own unconditional
What maintains our growth on the spiritual journey are not ideas but
insight. Such are the inspirations of the Fruits and Gifts of the
Spirit. In prayer, not thinking but being is the primary practice.
Thinking about ourselves or the ups and downs of the present moment is
Doing out of the sense of being lived in by God is getting close.
CO News, Dec. 2015
AWARD FROM SHALEM INSTITUTE
On March 10 in Washington DC
the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation honored Thomas Keating and
Contemplative Outreach with their 2016 Contemplative Voices Award. At
left, Al Keeney and Margaret Benefiel of Shalem flank Fr. Thomas and
Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, Executive Director of Contemplative Outreach.
Shalem gives the award to "individuals who have made significant
contributions to contemplative understanding, living and leadership ..."
This was the first year they also honored an organization.
The second picture
at right is
Gail standing next to the picture of Fr. Thomas, who presented a message
of gratitude via pre-recorded video.
from the March 2016 e-Bulletin from Contemplative Outreach
Powerlessness is our
greatest treasure. Don't try to get rid of it. Everything in us wants us
to get rid of it. Grace is sufficient for you, but not something you can
understand. To be in too big a hurry to get over our difficulties is a
mistake because you don't know how valuable they are from God's
perspective, for without them you might never be transformed as deeply
and as thoroughly.....
On the occasion of Fr.
Thomas Keating’s 93’rd birthday last Mar.7, the world-wide community of
centering prayer practitioners “covered” him with their prayers for 24
hours starting on March 7 and ending on March 8, 2016. This love
offering to our beloved founder, teacher, and friend, Fr. Thomas, was
painstakingly organized by Billie Trinidad who patiently contacted and
followed up the different CO groups locally and internationally
regarding the birthday prayer grid for Fr. Keating. The practice has
been going on for the past 10 years, our concrete way of expressing our
gratefulness to Fr. Thomas for the gift of centering prayer, and for his
continuing inspiration and guidance thru his teachings and personal
In his message of thanks for
our spiritual bouquet of prayers wherein each one of us did a 30-minute
period of centering prayer, Fr. Keating said he was deeply touched and
grateful for our love and prayers. May the Lord continue to bless him
with peace, joy, and strength in the year(s) ahead.
"The spiritual journey is
not a career, but a succession of 'diminutions of self,' as Teilhard de
Chardin put it. This has nothing to do with the neurosis of a low
self-image. It is simply the fact that we are completely dependent on
the love of God. We are always in the arms of the beloved, whatever we
may feel or think."
FATHER THOMAS: GENTLY WAITING FOR THE BEGINNING
By Steven Standiford
For most of the last 30
years, our abba, Father Thomas, has been an indefatigable whirlwind
jetting around the world teaching, leading retreats, writing books and
preaching the good news of Centering Prayer. He racked up so many
frequent flyer miles traveling to far-flung places like the Philippines,
the Dominican Republic and South Korea that he could rest in the
executive lounge to wait for his flights. These days, however, Thomas is
finally allowing himself to return to the more secluded monastic life he
once knew. He concedes that at 92-years-old he doesn’t have the energy
he used to. But he gets around pretty well with his walker at his home
in the infirmary at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado. I’m
on a mini retreat at Snowmass and Father Thomas has kindly invited me to
It is late September. The
cloudless western sky is cobalt blue and a brilliant array of fluttering
golden Aspens lights up the steep mountain slopes. The fall days are
sunny and warm but the nights are chilly – a reminder that winter comes
early to the Colorado Rockies.
When I first spot Father
Thomas, he is literally hopping out of an SUV. He explains that his
physical therapist taught him the best way to leverage himself out of a
chair was to suddenly “pop up” – sort of like a heavyweight lifter doing
a clean and jerk. In his civilian clothes – a plaid shirt, gray work
pants, and Patagonia down vest -- Thomas looks more like one of the
cattle ranchers in the valley than he does a Trappist monk. And, of
course, he is wearing his ever-present black knit cap to keep his head
warm and his thoughts flowing.
When we first meet, he seems
quite energized -- having just returned with other monks from a
neighbor’s house to watch Pope Francis on TV. (The monks still don’t
have newfangled gadgets like a flat screen TV.) He marvels that the Pope
publicly cited Dorothy Day and fellow Trappist, Thomas Merton, as
examples for the rest of the world to follow
“How are you filling your
days?” I ask.
“At my age I have to spend
most of my time just following doctors orders,” he kids. “In addition to
my personal physician, I have a physical therapist and four specialists.
Everybody is a specialist these days,” he laughs.
I had hoped to take Thomas
out to lunch, forgetting that he is not allowed to, now that he is back
at St. Benedict’s. Except for medical care at the Aspen hospital, he
almost never ventures out from the monastery. The one exception was his
trip three years ago to Boston to attend a conference with his dear
friends and fellow mystics, the Dalai Lama and Brother David
In addition to a lack of
energy and the monastery rules, there is another reason Thomas does not
dine out. As he explained, he has difficulty swallowing -- so most of
his food is either finely chopped, pureed, or liquid. I did manage to
sneak him a few almond cookies from a fancy New York bakery. Technically
they weren’t on his plan, but at 92, Thomas has become younger and more
flexible – and occasionally bends the rules.
Depending on his strength,
Thomas still spends time each day reading and writing. Books line the
top of the desk in his room. And the gazebo-like solarium across the
hall is filled with all kinds of popular magazines, scholarly journals
and Christian and non-Christian periodicals. One disappointment is that
he doesn’t have the energy to participate in regular worship with the
rest of the community. For several years he could make his way to the
chapel and slip into Mass just for communion -- but now even that is too
draining. As Thomas explained “I can’t really go down to communion
anymore because I may not have the energy to get back!” (Fortunately,
one of the younger monks serves communion in the infirmary after Mass
During our visit, Thomas did
solve one mystery. For over two decades I have heard him often say that,
“the minimum time recommended for Centering Prayer is twenty minutes,
two times a day.” But I never heard Thomas share what his own practice
was. The answer is that along with his doctor’s visits, physical therapy
and work with Contemplative Outreach, he sets aside three to four hours
a day for silent prayer. (I wondered if this might be a gentle nudge
from the Holy Spirit to double my own daily Centering Prayer practice.)
We reminisced about
Chrysalis House, the lay contemplative community in Warwick, New York
that Thomas nurtured in the 1980s and early 1990s -- and remembered
fondly Mary Mrozowski, the “Amma” of the house who died suddenly in
1993. For a while we sat transfixed listening to David Frenette’s gentle
teachings on his DVD about spiritual transformation through Centering
Prayer that Thomas had not seen before. After viewing the first half of
the video, Thomas was so moved he called it a “great treasure” and
offered suggestions about how to make David’s teaching more widely
available to advanced practitioners.
I asked Thomas if I could
come again to visit next April. “Sure,” he said with a broad smile and a
chuckle, “but I may be dead by then!”
“Then I will pray for you to
have as vigorous health as possible,” I offered.
“Well,” Thomas said,
becoming more reflective, “it would be better to pray that God’s will be
done.” He paused a moment and then added, “after all, I don’t want to
overstay my welcome here on God’s earth.” We sat silently for a few
moments longer in the late afternoon sunlight. Thomas continued slowly,
“as the Buddhists say, everything is temporary. And as we believe,
everything is an expression of the Divine. " Smiling broadly, he
concluded, “I’m hoping to go back to the Divine, whatever that is.”
I wanted to stay longer, to
drink in this sweet passing moment, but Thomas had graciously given me
an hour and a half and I didn’t want him to deplete his limited energy
any further. We both stood. He opened his long arms and huge hands to
give me a fatherly hug good-bye. Thomas has never been a touchy-feely
sort but we lingered a moment in a warm embrace. Perhaps he sensed my
need for a hug.
As we parted, it struck me
as remarkable that this man -- who endured a lonely childhood under a
stern, demanding father and a withdrawn, sickly mother – has become such
a warm, loving father to so many of us around the world. As I drove out
along the gravel road back to Rte. 82, I wondered if I would ever see
Thomas again. It had been a perfect, beautiful, warm fall day. But the
temperature was dropping and winter comes early in the Rockies.
Standiford, a psychotherapist practicing in Manhattan and Westchester
County, New York.
Taken from C-e News, Jan.
a way of life, spirituality in the fullest sense of the word. Not just a
hobby, not just a weekend activity, but a way of life that pervades and
touches everything you are and do. It therefore means ultimately a total
conversion of heart, along with deep faithful stability and integration
of the personality, the healing of your wounds and hang-ups, and the
incarnation of faith in all the ways that we learn to love.
THE BENEFITS OF CENTERING PRAYER
Centering Prayer is a
receptive method of silent prayer that prepares us to receive the gift
of contemplative prayer, prayer in which we experience God's presence
within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than
consciousness itself. This method of prayer is both a relationship with
God and a discipline to foster that relationship.
Centering Prayer is not
meant to replace other kinds of prayer. Rather, it adds depth of meaning
to all prayer and facilitates the movement from more active modes of
prayer - verbal, mental or affective prayer - into a receptive prayer of
resting in God. Centering Prayer emphasizes prayer as a personal
relationship with God and as a movement beyond conversation with Christ
to communion with Christ.
To watch on YouTube, please
Transformation in Christ series with Thomas Keating
all products in all formats:
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& Spanish subtitles)
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$20 USD. Mp3 version
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Gift of Life: Death &
Dying, Life & Living series with Thomas Keating
all products in all formats:
DVDs with guidebook (with English & Spanish subtitles)
English digital version
Spanish digital version
CD with reflection booklet
$20 USD Mp3 version
$12 USD; PDF version
$12 USD; PDF version
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God is infinite love,
which really changes everything. Most religious people have put the cart
before the horse by imagining that we can earn God's love by some kind
of moral behavior. Whereas, according to the saints and mystics, God's
love must be experienced first--and then our moral behavior is merely an
outflowing from our contact with that infinite source toward all other
people and things. Love is the powerful horse; morality is then the
beautiful cart that it pulls, not the other way around.