For those progressing on the
spiritual journey, even when the consoling aspect of the Divine Presence
dissipates because of excessive activity or too much thinking, an
interior presence arises that becomes more and more permanent. A shift
in consciousness begins to take place. Our rational consciousness is
transcended by the awakening of intuitive consciousness. The rational
level is not rejected; we simply become free of its limitations. Reason
remains available and functional for ordinary daily life, human
relationships, and all the needs of embodied activity, but does not
overshadow or take away the deeper and abiding awareness of the Divine
How can we be thinking
beings and not think? The Divine Presence beyond all thought is a state
that flows from being one with what happens in each nanosecond of time.
The divine activity is taking place everywhere all at once. No one owns
it or possesses it. It just is without any limit or boundaries. The
presence and action of the Spirit embraces perfect unity and infinite
To seek for enlightenment is
to pray for the reward of one’s efforts to serve God. It is not yet
complete detachment from self. The dissolution of the false self is the
opening to true freedom and union with God. It leads to the experience
of inner resurrection, which is to be taken over more and more
completely by the Spirit.
To know the living God we
have to share the sorrow of the Divine Heart. God puts up with endless
human error, excess, and sometimes malice, in order to get across to us
the most important realities of life, of which God’s unconditional
forgiveness and love for everyone is the foremost.
We have to be humbled and
ground to dust for this experience of divine love to manifest in us. It
also happens with varying degrees of intensity. The stages of
consciousness are one way to describe the process of spiritual
evolution. This is the experiential conviction of God as a Presence of
extraordinary tenderness and exquisite thoughtfulness, beyond any human
conception or expectation.
Perhaps the infinite
gratuity of God’s unconditional love, beyond all love as we know it, is
the best way to express it. In any case, there is no end to divine love.
As the Psalmist cries out, “His love is everlasting” (Psalm 135).
— From CO
Newsletter, June 2019
When one is in deep quiet,
one is very susceptible to brilliant intellectual insights
or marvelous psychological breakthroughs.
… Human nature does not like to be empty before God.
…But if you are going to practice Centering Prayer,
the only way to do it is to ignore every thought.
Let it be a time of interior silence
and nothing else.
If God wants to speak to you in successive words,
let him do so during the other twenty-three hours of the day.
He will be more pleased that you preferred to listen
to his silence. In the prayer God is speaking
not to your ears, to your emotions, to your head,
or even to your heart but to your spirit,
to your inmost being.
There is no human apparatus to understand
that language or to hear it.
A kind of anointing takes place.
The fruits of that anointing will appear later
In ways that are indirect; in your gentleness,
peace and willingness to surrender to God
in everything that happens.
Thomas Keating, “Open Mind, Open Heart”
HOME TO A PLACE I SHOULD NEVER HAVE LEFT
is immense, yet so humble;
awe-inspiring yet so gentle;
limitless, yet so intimate, tender and personal.
I know that I am known,
Everything in my life is transparent
in this Presence.
It knows everything about me
…all my weakness, brokenness, sinfulness
- and still loves me infinitely.
This Presence is healing, strengthening,
refreshing – just by its Presence.
It is nonjudgmental, self-giving,
seeking no reward,
boundless in compassion.
It is like coming home
to a place I should never have left,
to an awareness that was somehow always there,
but which I did not recognize.
I cannot force this awareness,
or bring it about.
Thomas Keating, “Open Mind, Open Heart”
According to quantum physics, various levels of material energy can
occupy the same physical space at the same time. In similar fashion, the
divine energy can be at work in us at levels that cannot be perceived at
On the level of
grace, faith is purified of attachments and excessive dependency on ways
that are good as stepping stones, but inadequate to manifest the full
range of the divine presence and action.
By sitting down
to do Centering Prayer we consent to the divine presence, the whole of
God in pure faith. This faith, once it is established as a conviction,
changes our perspective of who we are and who God is. It operates
appropriately through the theological virtues and the Seven Gifts of the
Spirit, enabling us to respond to the realities and routines of daily
life and to perceive the divine presence in the ordinary, the
insignificant, and even in suffering.
Keating, “Intimacy with God”
BLESSING FROM FR. CARL ARICO
and Holy Spirit
stir up within us all the graces and blessings that you want for us.
Enlarge our territory
and our whole being,
to do your will in ways far beyond our wildest imaginings.
We need your help; we cannot do this without you.
Keep us from being discouraged and second guessing ourselves.
In our desire to do good may we not cause too much harm.
May all our deceased relatives and friends
who are gazing upon the face of God cheer us on
as we enter more deeply into the mystery of the Blessed Trinity
with the Blessed Mother through Christ Our Lord.
— From CO
Newsletter, June 2019
On Oct. 25, 2018, Fr. Thomas
Keating, beloved by many all over the world as a spiritual father,
teacher and soul friend passed away after a long illness, at St.
Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer, MA. With broken hearts, we will always
remember with much love and affection this gentle and extraordinary monk
who touched our hearts and minds so deeply and changed us forever.
We are grateful beyond words
for his presence in our lives, coming to the Philippines several times
to meet with us, his Centering Prayer family; for his wise and profound
teachings thru numerous books, tapes, videos and other resources, and
most of all for his loving friendship and companionship in our journey
The following tribute by a
very dear student/friend of Fr. Keating says it all. Indeed this beloved
of God taught us with utter simplicity but compelling power thru his
personal life, what it means to “live our ordinary lives with
It was the month of August,
1989. A Trappist monk had come all the way from Snowmass, Colorado to
the Philippines, to teach us Centering Prayer. His name was Father
Thomas Keating, OCSO.
At the Santuario de San
Antonio, Fr. Thomas came in, and there was a hush, and everyone quieted
down. I don’t know about the others, but at that moment, the tears just
started to flow down my face. I finally quieted down, wondering what had
just happened. I later realized what brought on the tears. It was his
presence….so gentle, so kind, so full of love but so compelling! It was
as though he had caught a glimpse of my soul. No words were exchanged or
expressed…just a presence to presence. I felt like I was the only one in
the whole church.
We listened, as this gentle
monk went on to share the prayer, holding both our attention and our
hearts. As he explained the prayer, I was transported to another world -
the world of Contemplative Prayer. “A world in which God could do
anything… To move into that realm is the greatest adventure. Our
private, self-made worlds come to an end; a new world appears within and
around us and the impossible becomes an everyday experience. Yet the
world that prayer reveals is barely noticeable in the ordinary course of
events.” (Quoted from the book, Open Mind Open Heart by Thomas Keating.)
Centering Prayer was new, it
was different…it was special, but most of all, IT WAS HOME. He spoke of
how silence was God’s first language…and how we needed to learn that
language if we wanted to develop a relationship with God. So, as I did
this very simple prayer, and practiced it for 20 minutes, twice a day,
later graduating to 30 minutes, I learned to trust and love the silence.
Silence is magic. Beautiful
things happen in the quiet. Flowers bloom, stars twinkle, grass grows,
rain falls, the moon glows… and most of all, it was in silence that Our
Lord was brought forth. And it is in this seemingly barren space that
the Divine Therapist gently does his work, blessing our wounds and
healing in love.
One day, I found myself
going to Snowmass, Colorado, to learn more about this prayer. It was
fall, the leaves had turned gold, orange, yellow and brown with
smatterings of green. The sky was clear and the air felt so clean, so
pure. It was a time to bask in Our Lord’s love. Father Thomas said, it
was a time to allow God to love me. I felt like my soul had come out to
play. It was the “fall” of my life.
He wrote on total
vulnerability: “the willingness to be hurt over and over again, without
loving less but more. And this meant never giving up on anyone, not even
on yourself. Of such is the Kingdom of God.”
Total vulnerability sort of
became my golden rule…my mantra. Tough words, but like Father said:
“contemplative prayer is the world in which God can do anything…” I just
had to trust and believe that I was on the right path.
He said grace was the
“presence and action of God in our lives.” In that sense, he was my
“grace.” Prayer, love and Fr. Thomas are one and the same to me. Life
brought me down to my knees, Centering Prayer whispered to me of love
and gently picked me up.
We learned from Father, that
Jesus taught us about God, his Abba: all loving, all merciful. I learned
about God from Fr. Tomas. He bridged that gap between God, Jesus and me.
I met a God who never gives up on us…on me. A God who loved me even
before the day I was born, before I was even conceived…before time even
began. He introduced me to a God who asks for nothing but to be loved
back in return; to unconditionally accept His love as pure gift. Father
Tomas was my “Jesus.”
As the years went by, and
the prayer began to take hold of me, the divine therapy that took place
during the prayer, during the silence, also began its work. Years of
hurt, trauma came into my awareness, and in the process, healing would
very slowly take place. How can it fail? God is my therapist, the divine
therapist. God never went on vacation and was there for me…all the time.
I will never forget this:
Father came back to the Philippines several times later. I would tag
along with Lita Salinas and Grace Padilla whenever they picked up Fr.
Thomas at the airport. The three of them would huddle together, talking
animatedly as we walked out of the terminal to the car. I, happy and
content just to be there, would grab his bags... so few were they, and
walk behind them. Even as he was fully present to Lita and Grace, every
now and then, he would stop, reach out with his long arm and draw me
into their little circle... and when little by little, I would lag
behind, once again, he would reach out and draw me back in. No words
spoken, just a gentle smile and a loving gesture. I think that is what
cemented my love for him...he was so kind. He was just love personified.
He taught us what it meant
to be a true contemplative…doing ordinary things in an extraordinary
way, with extraordinary love or utmost charity.
He would say, Centering
prayer is like hearing the music rather than just the notes. Beyond all
the noises of our mind is the mysterious sound of silence, which is no
I saw that the spiritual
journey is not easy. There is a lot of falling down and getting up;
again and again and again.
Ever present, on videos, on
laptops, in books, and in my memory, he guided us. Always prodding us to
move on, deeper and deeper, into the silence, allowing our awareness,
our consciousness to grow. And I plod along that spiritual path, falling
down again and again, but always getting up, gently picking up the
pieces of my life.
To me, he will always be the
man who taught me a prayer that has become the love of my life, the life
of my love, my life and my love…and I am learning to forgive, even if
forgiveness has not been asked of me; and to love even at the risk of
not being loved back in return.
In Oct 25, 2018, a little
before 10 pm, this beloved of God passed into the night to join the love
of his life. He gave his final consent.
Farewell, dearest Father
Tomas. I know I should be rejoicing that you are finally in the arms of
your Abba, but could you “hold space” for me, to miss you? Just for a
little while? My human heart cannot take this all in at the same time. I
knew you were sick and one day would have to leave us, but did it have
to be so soon? The thought of not being able to see you again, grips and
tugs at my heart. My heart is in shambles. On a deeper level, ever
present, is an overwhelming sense of gratitude…gratitude for the prayer,
gratitude for all the blessings that came my way… a gratitude so deep
and so full, that it almost comforts. Thank you.
I know your presence will
live on, in creation, in conversations with others, in your books, but
most of all, in the depths of my being, in that inner room, where
everything is joy, peace and love. The light has slightly dimmed, but
there is still the light of Centering prayer. Father Thomas thank you
for all these. I offer my silence as flowers in celebration of your new
life. The God in me, honors the God in you. See you at the center.
(Excerpts from a National
Catholic Reporter article by Dan Morris, Oct. 26, 2018)
Trappist Fr. Thomas Keating,
a global figure in both interreligious dialogue and Christian
contemplative prayer, has died at the age of 95.
Keating died Oct. 25 at St.
Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where he had been abbot from
1961 to 1981, and where he began his role as one of the chief architects
of what is now known as centering prayer…
An Oct. 26 statement from
Contemplative Outreach, the international organization co-founded by
Keating, said, "It is with deep sorrow that we share the news of the
passing of our beloved teacher and spiritual father….He modeled for us
the incredible riches and humility borne of a divine relationship that
is not only possible but is already the fact in every human being," the
statement said. "Such was his teaching, such was his life. He now shines
his light from the heights and the depths of the heart of the Trinity."
Keating, born March 7, 1923,
was the third of four children born into an affluent New York City
family, the son and grandson of prominent maritime attorneys. Presumably
to follow a similar path, he launched his college education at Yale
University in 1940.
His mother was a Bible
reader and his father a lapsed Catholic. However, Keating found himself
attracted to religion and told of sneaking out of his house to attend
In a 2014 documentary,
"Thomas Keating: A Rising Tide of Silence," Keating recalled: "At 5, I
had a serious illness. I heard adults in the next room wondering whether
I'd live. I took this very seriously, and at my first Mass bargained
with God: 'If you'll let me live to 21, I'll become a priest.' After
that, I'd skip out early in the morning before school and go to Mass. I
knew my parents wouldn't approve, so I never told them."
During his freshman year at
Yale, Keating was increasingly drawn to church history and the writings
of its mystics.
He transferred to Jesuit
Fordham University in New York City, where he graduated from an
accelerated curriculum in December 1943. While he was there, the
spiritual director of a camp at which Keating had worked took him and
others to visit Our Lady of the Valley, a Trappist monastery in Rhode
Island, which was destroyed by fired in 1950. "Keating was mesmerized,"
reports a 5280 magazine feature story on the monk.
A 20-year-old Keating
entered the strict Trappist community at Valley Falls, Rhode Island, in
January 1944. He was ordained a priest in 1949.
In the documentary, he
describes the painful break from family and friends: "I broke
communication with everyone I knew ... and prayed for my family daily. I
felt the more austere the life, the sooner I would achieve the
contemplative life I sought. I spent the next five to six years
observing almost total silence. I couldn't leave. My only communication
was with two abbots, neither of whom could give you any friendship or
His grandmother, he said,
wrote him from her sickbed: "I miss you so much. I'm lying here in bed,
and I said to the nurse, 'If my grandson doesn't come home, won't you
please just throw me out the window?' "
Unable to respond, Keating
said he prayed harder for those he'd left behind.
Keating had resided at St.
Benedict's at Snowmass for approaching four decades, not having left the
campus for several years, St. Benedict's Abbot Joseph Boyle told NCR
last July. Boyle died of cancer Oct. 21.
Recovering Christian contemplative prayer
Largely in response to the
1962-65 Second Vatican Council's call to religious orders for renewal,
Keating and fellow Cistercian monks Fr. William Meninger and the late
Fr. Basil Pennington (1931-2005), worked together in the 1970s to
develop a contemplative prayer method that drew on ancient traditions
but would be readily accessible to the modern world.
Keating's observation that
many, notably younger persons, were being attracted to Eastern
meditation practices helped spur his work to recover Christian
In-house issues and the
contemplative work — focused on understanding silence as the language of
God — reportedly created some uneasiness within the Spencer Trappist
community. Some have described it as tension between monastic asceticism
A vote in 1981 on the
continuance of Keating as Spencer's abbot was evenly split. Keating
resigned rather than try to lead a divided community. He returned to St.
Benedict's at Snowmass where he had served from 1958 to 1961 during its
Freed of the Spencer
monastery administrative demands, Keating not only expanded his work in
centering prayer, but also spearheaded formation of the Snowmass
Interreligious Conferences in late 1983, a yearly gathering of major
figures of various religious backgrounds that ran for three decades.
During that same time frame,
the growing popularity of centering prayer led to Keating directing
retreats and workshops worldwide. That networking, in turn, sparked
widening interest in organizational and educational structuring.
Out of that grew
Contemplative Outreach Ltd., officially incorporated in 1986. Its
website describes the network as consolidating "the three monks'
experiment." Keating was its first president.
Fr. Carl Arico, a priest of
the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, also helped found Contemplative
Outreach, and has done extensive teaching and outreach with
contemplative prayer forms.
In the 2014 documentary on
Keating, Arico describes attending one of the Trappist's first intensive
centering prayer retreats at the Lama Foundation in San Cristobal, New
Mexico, also attended by several others who would become founding
members of Contemplative Outreach.
"I went on retreat with him
in 1983," said Arico. "I went up to that mountain as Carl the priest. I
came off that mountain as Carl the human being who happens to be a
"The growth that has taken
place in Contemplative Outreach is a miracle of God's grace and the
power of prayer," Arico states on the organization's website.
The website also reports
that Contemplative Outreach:
Annually serves more 40,000
Supports more than 90 active
contemplative chapters in 39 countries;
Nurtures some 800 prayer
Teaches more than 15,000
people centering prayer and other contemplative practices through local
"Provides training and
resources to local chapters and volunteers."
While the organization's
international offices are now located in Butler, New Jersey, its initial
headquarters was the dining room table of Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler, a
member of the founding governing board and a trustee until 2014. Now
retired, she was Contemplative Outreach executive director from 1985 to
1999 and was president from 2000 until 2015.
"My relationship with Father
Thomas spans almost 40 years and we have shared many important moments
in the growth and development of Contemplative Outreach, and it is hard
to zero in on particulars," Fitzpatrick-Hopler emailed NCR.
She visited Keating at St.
Joseph's Monastery in early July.
"It was very sweet to
remember together and to have a few good laughs and shed a few tears.
Over the years we have become good friends and companions on the
contemplative path," she said.
In the Keating documentary,
Fitzpatrick-Hopler says that, "within a few sentences," Keating "brought
all my Eastern experience and my Catholic upbringing together all at
once, and I recognized him as my teacher. It was almost not so much
about what he said but just about who he is, and his presence. And he
could just bring it together in such a way that meant something to me
very, very deeply. ... Something really resonated."
Speaking in the documentary,
Keating provides an insight into his overall sense of the divine.
"The gift of God is
absolutely gratuitous," he said. "It's not something you earn. It's
something that's there. It's something you just have to accept. This is
the gift that has been given. There's no place to go to get it. There's
no place you can go to avoid it. It just is. It's part of our very
existence. And so the purpose of all the great religions is to bring us
into this relationship with reality that is so intimate that no words
can possibly describe it."
In addition to Contemplative
Outreach, Keating has also served as president of both the Monastic
Interreligious Dialogue and the Temple of Understanding. The Temple of
Understanding presented the priest with its Juliet Hollister Award for
"religious figures who bring interfaith values into the place of worship
where the faithful congregate."
Ibrahim Gamard, the Sufi
Muslim representative at the Snowmass Interreligious Conferences from
1988 to 2004, wrote in a statement provided to NCR: "Fr. Thomas was able
to be nourished by other mystics and mystical traditions, not only for
his own spiritual growth, but for the greater purpose of helping to
revive Christian mysticism and contemplation — which is why he helped to
develop and spread interest in Centering Prayer."
Over the years, Keating
shared stages with many of the world's best-known religious thinkers and
leaders, including the Dalai Lama and philosopher Ken Wilber.
Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr,
well-known author and speaker on spirituality, told NCR, "In my lifetime
there are few priests or teachers who have both exemplified and taught
an actual transformative spirituality as well as Thomas Keating."
"He changed lives and not
just ideas. He changed minds and hearts and not just peoples' group
affiliations," said Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and
Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"He combined good theology
with good psychology without compromising either of them," added Rohr.
"We were personal friends and I will miss his company here in nearby
Snowmass, but we will still have his love — and his books, which will
always remain as spiritual classics."
Keating published nearly
three dozen books, and was involved in several audio-visual projects.
Some of his best-selling
volumes include Open Mind, Open Heart; Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit;
St. Thérèse of Lisieux: A Transformation in Christ; Manifesting God; The
Transformation of Suffering: Reflections on September 11 and the Wedding
Feast at Cana in Galilee; and Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering
Prayer and the Twelve Steps.
One of Keating's most
popular multimedia projects is the nine-hour, self-directed "Centering
Prayer: A Training Course for Opening to the Presence of God," dubbed by
one reviewer as "a monastery in a box."
Keating is featured in
several YouTube video postings. The Contemplative Outreach website
provides links to multiple brief video segments with the monk.
A significant collection of
Keating's work is archived at Atlanta's Emory University, which also
houses a collection of output from another famed Trappist, Fr. Thomas
The late Snowmass Abbot
Boyle, under whose authority Keating had lived since Boyle was elected
abbot in 1985, shared a different perspective in July.
When Boyle joined the
Snowmass community in 1959, Keating was his superior and remained so
"until the day of my simple vows, two years later," just before Keating
was elected abbot at Spencer.
"So, my first experience of
Thomas was as the superior who introduced me into the monastic life,"
Boyle told NCR.
Since becoming St.
Benedict's abbot, Boyle said, he "had the custom of spending an hour
with Thomas every Monday afternoon. That would include everything from
spiritual discussion to particular leadership issues with me and even at
times with issues he was dealing with. His counsel was always
"Actually, Father Thomas was
a very easy person to have in community and he would not hesitate to ask
permission for anything out of the ordinary that he wanted to do," Boyle
added. "Of course, he was my teacher when I first entered, and as abbot
I did not consider myself to be his teacher."
When Keating returned to St.
Benedict's at Snowmass in 1981, said Boyle, "I imagined that he would
use his time sitting quietly in one corner of the church meditating day
and night. Instead, the Lord seemed to put it into his heart to start a
new venture that would spread the contemplative practice among
Christians and support them in it. As such he would fly around the
country spreading that word wherever there was an audience desiring it."
Located on nearly 4,000
bucolic acres surrounded by the Elk Mountains, the Snowmass community of
about 15 monks accommodated him.
"Though it is very unusual
for a Trappist monk to be involved in any ministry like this, the
monastic community here, and myself as abbot, felt that Thomas really
did have a calling from God to do this ministry, and we supported him in
it as best we could," Boyle said.
"This meant that Father
Thomas' participation in the monastic life at Snowmass needed to be
modified to accommodate this ministry," he continued. "But since we felt
this was a response to God's call to Thomas, it did not adversely affect
the community, but rather we encouraged him."
Boyle echoed what many said about Keating, underscoring the priest's
"pastoral approach to people and their situations" and "gentle
"He was so easy to
approach," the monk said.
approachability and intelligence clearly played a key role in the
success of the Snowmass Interreligious Conferences.
"Participants met on a very
personal level, not wanting any publicity, and just shared their own
religious experiences," said Boyle…
While little direct record of the conferences' conversations exists, a
2006 book, The Common Heart: An Experience of Interreligious Dialogue,
offers a summary and analysis of the gatherings…
Among the Snowmass Trappist community supporting the spread of centering
prayer is Meninger, an original collaborator with Keating and
Meninger's 1974 discovery of
a dusty volume in the Spencer monastery library proved central in the
development of centering prayer. The anonymous 14th-century The Cloud of
Unknowing, notes Meninger's website, "presented contemplative meditation
as a teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter
and receive a direct experience of union with God."
According to the website,
Meninger "quickly began teaching contemplative prayer according to The
Cloud of Unknowing at the Abbey Retreat House. One year later his
workshop was taken up by his Abbot, Thomas Keating, and Basil
Pennington, both of whom had been looking for a teachable form of
Christian contemplative meditation to offset the movement of young
Catholics toward Eastern meditation techniques."
In an email to NCR, Meninger
said Keating's work "represents the finest in the mystical Catholic
tradition, with its origins in the earliest centuries of the church."
Keating, Meninger wrote,
"was also a much beloved teacher throughout the world and will be long
remembered in the hearts of mystics and contemplatives."
Among the many gifts Fr.
Keating brought to the wider Catholic community, not least being the
success he attained both in bringing the rich contemplative tradition of
Lectio Divina — brilliantly taught as Centering Prayer — to a worldwide
readership, and the establishment of Contemplative Outreach — an
organization committed to the propagation of centering prayer, he was
also a leading Catholic proponent of interreligious dialogue,
cultivating ties of friendship and understanding between religions. One
thinks, for example, of the Snowmass Conference that he instituted ...
as a wonderful model of how to do interreligious dialogue in the
post-Vatican II era.”
[Dan Morris-Young is NCR's
West Coast correspondent. His email is
As we practice
contemplative prayer and learn to listen to the sound of sheer silence,
we are instructed to disregard thoughts that are going by due to our
receptive apparatus in the brain that receives all kinds of data. We let
go into God all that is happening, including our thoughts, and open
ourselves completely. God begins to work with us on a level of intimacy
that might be called the divine therapy. In this perspective God is the
greatest psychologist there ever was. Since the person we know least is
ourselves, we need all the help we can get.
As we move into
the silence of contemplative prayer, we experience in some degree who we
really are, which is beyond our thinking mind and more real than any
sense experience. If we give God the space to be God in us, he takes
into consideration all the limitations and weaknesses of our human
situation as reflective and self-conscious beings and heals our
self-inflicted and culturally imposed woundedness.
God is closer
than our name, resume, personality, character, temperament, or number on
the enneagram. At every moment he is manifesting God-self to us, healing
the wounds of a lifetime, and using our imperfections to transform our
weaknesses into humility and pure love.
deepens it morphs into the divine presence in contemplative prayer. This
is a pervasive presence that invites us to accept the embrace of divine
love and the realization of how much God loves us.
Life is a process
of increasing intimacy with God and of relaxing into the present moment
by accepting and consenting to whatever is happening. The wear and tear
of daily life tests the level of our transformation. If we can maintain
the peace of mind that is present during the time of prayer in external
difficulties and in the feeling of powerlessness, our spiritual maturity
is clearly advancing.
We don’t have to
succeed in this world, we just have to be. That means to consent to the
the human condition that God has given us. There are seven or eight
billion people in the world right now in whom God is working to build an
intimate personal relationship, one that has never been known before and
can never be repeated.
Trust in God
gives us the peace to endure anything. If you don’t feel you have the
strength to deal with some difficulty or trial, do not let that worry
you either, because then you are most identified with Christ and the
infinite mercy of God.
Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O, CO Newsletter, December 2016
The essence and
heart of Centering Prayer is consenting to God’s presence and action
within. It leads to contemplation and its continuing development.
qualities reveal how this consent deepens through daily practice.
arises in consenting to God’s presence within. External silence supports
this movement and leads to interior silence.
flows from interior silence. It disregards the endless conversation we
have with ourselves and rests in the experience of God’s presence.
is the growing awareness of our oneness with the whole human family and
with all creation. It is sensitive to the ever-present inspirations of
the Spirit, not only during the time of formal prayer, but in the
details of everyday life.
is an expression of solidarity that is an inner call to serve God and
others based on the realization that God is loving and serving them
through us. In other words, God in us is serving God in others.
is what Jesus called “prayer in secret” (Matt. 6:6). This is the
experience of God’s presence beyond rational concepts and preoccupation
with our thoughts and desires. Interior silence tends to move into
solitude and then into stillness. Stillness is the habitat of
contemplative prayer. As Saint John of the Cross teaches, contemplation
is the inflowing of God into our souls, and in the Christian tradition,
is looked upon as pure gift. In actual fact, it is a gift that has
already been given. Just by being human, one has this capacity. Many
advanced mystics affirm that contemplation is the natural state of human
consciousness, of which the Garden of Eden in Genesis is a symbol.
is the growing capacity to live in the midst of the dualities of daily
life in such a way as to integrate contemplation and action. Even in
enormous activity, endless distraction, and immense concerns, we can
remain in the divine presence. That presence invites us to enter the
inmost center of our being where God dwells and where the Spirit
inspires all our actions. Simplicity is the final integration and
unification of all our human capabilities. It is the peak sustained by a
whole mountain of interconnected and interdependent parts, in which each
acts according to its particular nature in complete harmony with every
other part. Simplicity arises out of the immense complexity of human
nature as it is brought into unity through letting go of attachments and
trusting in God.
The first step
towards this simplicity is simplicity of lifestyle and the cultivation
of interior silence through contemplation. Contemplative prayer and
action under its influence gradually liberates us from attachments both
conscious and unconscious that cause the loss of interior peace. It
moderates the tumultuous emotions that can tear us apart and undermine
the sense of being rooted in God and in the state of life we have
not the same as action, but they are not separate. They are distinct,
but God is
as much in one as in the other. It is we who may not be present to one
or the other. Simplicity is based on the truth about ourselves and the
experience of God. It is the acceptance of everything just as it is. The
Holy Spirit can then move us to change what needs to be changed or do
what needs to be done.
Surrender is the total gift of self to God, a movement from divine
union to unity. It marks the beginning of what Jesus calls “eternal
life” as an abiding state of consciousness. Self-surrender through the
practice of Centering Prayer is a traditional path to divine union. The
movements of self-surrender and trust are the work of the Fruits and
Gifts of the Spirit, and of the increasing joy of giving oneself
completely to God.
Ultimate Reality as Unmanifest is to lose oneself completely. This is
the invitation of
the amazing texts in Saint John’s Gospel about our being in God and
God living in us. (cf. Jn 17: 20-22).
Suffering is the
consequence of the fact of living in an imperfect world. For that there
is no cure. Sharing the divine life does not mean that created things
are not good; it is just that they are incapable of fulfilling our
boundless desire for perfect happiness. Nothing could be more down to
earth or more humbling than this ever-present Presence, which just is.
It does not have to prove itself. It does not need to acquire anything.
It just is. Its desire is to make us equal to Itself in the expanding
interior freedom that goes with that unity.
As we experience
the dynamic unfolding of grace, our perspective changes in regard to
God, the spiritual journey, and ourselves. In between these stages there
may be delightful plateaus which are great blessings and have huge
physical, mental, and spiritual effects. The dark nights are
psychological states, and the darkest of all is the spiritual suffering
that arises from being a creature, unable because of our weakness to
handle the difficulties we encounter in this life, but going through
them with invincible confidence in God’s infinite mercy.
— Taken from the Contemplative Outreach December 2017 Newsletter
Father Thomas Keating
Founder, spiritual guide and
one of the principal architects and teachers of the Christian
contemplative prayer movement.
A Life Surrendered to Love
Click here to watch the video
Contemplative Outreach website
New YouTube Resources:
+ Living Ordinary Life
with Extraordinary Love, by Thomas Keating This is a record of Fr.
Thomas' keynote address at the 2004 CO Annual Conference in Toronto. The
theme of the conference was "Finding Peace at the Center: A
+ The Divine Therapy, Part 1: Lectio Divina, with Gail
This and also parts 2 and 3 below were one video in a series titled
"Transformation in Christ."
+ The Divine Therapy,
Part 2: The Human Condition, with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler
+The Divine Therapy, Part
3: Q and A Session with Gail Fitzpatrick-Hopler
+ Parable of the Great
Banquet: Luke 14: 15-24, by Thomas Keating This is a recording of
Fr. Thomas' homily from the mass at the 2002 CO Annual Conference in
At Fr. Thomas' request, we are going back to the basics and posting here
"Model of the Human Condition," the first of six hour-long talks
that are Part 2 of the Spiritual Journey series. This is the second
half of the third talk: The Pre-Rational Energy Centers.
Listen here >
Thomas Keating: From the
Mind to the Heart
This beautifully illustrated
book with the paintings of Charlotte M. Frieze, comes from the
conversations Fr. Keating had with his friend John Osborne in 2010 for
the film, The Rising Tide of Silence and three years later for
the new film, From the Mind To The Heart. Fr. Keating's thoughts
about silence and contemplation, power and the false self, and
humankind's shifting relationship with God have emerged in the film and
this companion book. $25 USD.
Self-Guided Online Courses
Learn or renew your
practices or deepen your experience of the contemplative life. Available
anytime, anywhere with internet access.
Silence and Centering Prayer
Embracing Living: The
Lectio Divina: Heart to
Heart - Listening and Living with God
A Journey of Discernment
Forgiveness: A Growth in
The Transformation of
And more. Visit the complete
listing on the CO website at Programs>Online Courses.
That We May be One:
Though this term has not
generally been associated with the Christian Tradition, in fact, its
essence runs throughout the New Testament, most prominently in the
Gospel of John and the Letters of Paul. Opening to the Divine Indwelling
through practicing Centering Prayer is the consent to God's presence and
action within us. This separate-self sense gradually evolves into the
conviction of self in God.
Six topics are included:
The Western and Scriptural
Models of Spirituality (15 min.);
The Invitation of the
Christian Contemplative Tradition Beyond Rational Consciousness (19
The Self and Evolving
Consciousness (16 min);
Christian Non-Duality and
Unity Consciousness (18 min.);
The Present Moment and All
That Is (13 min.);
Fallen, Beloved and
Surrendered (17 min.)
DVD package and reflection
booklet: $25 USD
MP3 (audio only) and
reflection booklet PDF : $10 USD
MP4 (video) and reflection
booklet PDF: $15 USD
to God as God Is
This book collects the
intimate talks and daily presentations made by Thomas Keating to people
who have been practicing Centering Prayer for several years, have some
experience of the spiritual journey and especially to those engaged in
some form of contemplative service. $15 USD.
The Will of Divine Love
This book looks at the
process of spiritual evolution in created reality. It also looks at
Centering Prayer and other transformative spiritual practices –
Welcoming Prayer, forgiveness practice and creative self-expression –
that unload the unconscious and help us to enter the “promised land’ and
the inner wealth of our divine inheritance as souls created in God’s
image and likeness. $25 USD.
Solitude: Wherein Wisdom Dwells
Part of the Contemplative
Life Program (CLP), this 97-page booklet focuses on the practice and
disposition of silence and solitude. Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina
feature prominently in the practices of this 40-day mini-retreat, which
includes beautiful images, brief inspirational readings and a suggested
daily practice. Sections of the booklet include prayer in secret;
dimensions of silence; places of solitude; thoughts in solitude; and a
day of silence and solitude, which provides a format for your own
one-day retreat at home. Booklet or PDF version on sale for $10 USD.
Transformation in Christ series with Thomas Keating
all products in all formats:
DVDs with guidebook &
reflections cards (with English
& Spanish subtitles)
English digital version
Spanish digital version
CD with reflection booklet
$20 USD. Mp3 version
Guidebook $20 USD; PDF version
$12 USD; PDF version
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
Digital downloads now
available for many products. Get instant fulfillment with no shipping
costs. Search in the online store under Media>Digital Download
A TASTE OF CENTERING PRAYER
“When you pray, go
to your inner room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (Matt.
Centering Prayer is a
simple Christian practice that helps us to locate and take refuge in our
“inner room,” consent to the presence of God-in-2nd-person, and lead us
into deep prayer, devotion, and contemplation of the divine. Largely
popularized in recent decades by Father Thomas Keating, Centering Prayer
traces its origin to the contemplative prayer of the Desert Fathers, the
Lectio Divinia tradition of Benedectine monasticism, and to works like
The Cloud of Unknowing and the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St.
John of the Cross. It endures to this day as one of the Christian
tradition’s most powerful contemplative practices.
Take 20 minutes out of
your day, and do the following:
Choose a sacred word as
the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action
within (e.g. God, Christ, I AM, Love, Now, Faith, Amen, etc.).
Sitting comfortably and
with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred
word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action
When you become aware of
thoughts, return ever-so-gently to the sacred word.
At the end of the prayer
period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes,
before returning to the rest of your day.
About Fr. Thomas
Father Thomas Keating is
considered by many to be one of the few genuinely realized Christian
saints in the world today. He continues to be a prominent voice in the
Christian Centering Prayer movement through the organization he founded,
Contemplative Outreach, an international network committed to renewing
the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in daily life.
-- Taken from Integral
Centering Prayer is
sometimes accused of falling short of true intimacy with Christ. What is
meant by “true intimacy?”
think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words.
Contemplative prayer, the pure gift of God, is the opening of mind and
heart – our whole being – to the Divine Presence within us, beyond
thinking, conversing, and even consciousness itself.
is a method that prepares our faculties to awaken to the gift of
contemplation. It leads to an intimate relationship with Christ that is
beyond words, and moves into communion with him both in daily prayer and
action. Centering Prayer is Christo-centric and consistent with the
Christian mystical interpretation of the Gospel. Through the work of the
Holy Spirit, Centering Prayer leads to a deeper intimacy with Christ.
Jesus invites us to learn
this kind of prayer in his Discourse at the Last Supper: “I do not pray
for them alone (those at the supper). I also pray for those who through
their preaching will believe in me. All are to be one; just as you
Father are in me and I am in you, so they too are to become one in us.”
And a little later: “The glory you have bestowed on me, I have bestowed
on them, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me.
Thus their oneness will be perfected … May the love with which you
love me dwell in them as I dwell in them myself (John 17: 20-26).”
This is the
teaching that Centering Prayer proposes, following the whole Christian
contemplative tradition, and brought into dialogue with contemporary
psychological, anthropological, and neurological discoveries, as well as
with the wisdom teachings of other religious traditions.
In Catholic theology,
Jesus is not just a human being possessing a complete human nature. He
is the Word made flesh, the Son of God, who in his divine nature assumed
the historical humanity of Jesus. It is through the person of Jesus, the
Divine Human Being, that we are drawn to experience the Eternal Word of
God, not just through abstract theological formulas, but directly.
At Jesus’ baptism
in the Jordan, the Father’s voice rang out saying, “This is my beloved
Son … Listen to him.” This listening points to prayer as an intimate
relationship with God. As listening deepens, so does the relationship
with God, which gradually matures over time until we become one with
him. This is the thrust of the practice of Lectio Divina: first to know
Jesus in his humanity and historical life, then to know him in his
passion, death, and resurrection; then to know Jesus in his
resurrection; and finally to know him in his Ascension and risen life in
The practices of
Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina open us to new levels of responding
to the Spirit of God within. This growing relationship may require
different responses from us as each level unfolds. In other words, the
focus of each level is distinct and produces different results. To grow
in divine love, through the earlier stages of relationship is to
experience a deeper knowledge and love of Christ. They change one’s
perspective not only of God but of all reality.
is not meant to replace other kinds of prayers, rather it casts a new
light and depth of meaning on them. Centering Prayer embraces the
unitive stage of Lectio Divina, as do all Christian prayer practices
that encourage complete surrender to Christ.
The source of
Centering Prayer is the Divine Indwelling, where one is responding to
the call of the Holy Spirit to consent to the Divine Presence and action
within oneself. Through the continuing practice of Centering Prayer, we
experience a deepening commitment to the needs and rights of each member
of the human family and an increasing respect for the interdependence
and oneness of all creation.
As we move from
conversation to communion with God's human and divine nature, Christ, we
experience the divine intimacy as it was practiced in the first few
centuries and preserved in the Christian contemplative tradition both in
the West and in the Eastern Orthodoxy. The contemplative life, already
present within us through the Divine Indwelling, awaits our consent.
Contemplative Outreach Newsletter, June 2016
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
CONTEMPLATIVE OUTREACH YOU TUBE CHANNEL
To watch videos on You Tube
"Divine love is
compassionate, tender, luminous,
totally self-giving, seeking no reward, unifying everything."
— Thomas Keating
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
"A part of the process of
letting go is to forgive ourselves and to trust God enough that if we
are sorry for our misbehaviors, God has completely forgotten about them
and would prefer that we would too. To live in the present moment means
that the past has been integrated into who we are now. To think back
would be a foolish thing to do because we can never judge the
dispositions that we had then with how we now would judge certain
behaviors. ... Part of acceptance is just to be still and surrender to
God knowing that all God wants is our love."
— by Thomas Keating