Death & Dying, Life & Living
„When Centering Prayer reaches the full consent to our nothingness, and when the closeness of God becomes a permanent experience, it is, of course, the perfect preparation for death, because it is death.
One has already died to the false self in the Night of Sense, and in the Night of Spirit has died to the ego – and so, is there any self at all left? Nothing remains of the false self and the ego. And the True Self has been transcended.
So death is not the end of anything but the final completion of this process of becoming fully alive and manifesting the triumph of the grace of God in us.
Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, Lord, God of truth. I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy. You will not abandon me. I trust in you, O Lord; you are my God. My destiny is in your hands. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”
Psalm 31: 6, 8, 15-17
By Fr. Thomas Keating
Christ is choosing the lowest place all the time; the very lowest place. Why? Because that is what God does. God is not attached to being God. He doesn’t care about praise or thanksgiving. What he is interested in is our consent to his love of us.
Paul was transformed by God’s communication of Godself to him, and so he writes, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses” (1 Cor. 12:9). That is the disposition of transformation. It is not great spiritual experiences but to come to terms with our own human weakness as we experience it. Paul then lists his other difficulties, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ for “whenever I am weak then I am strong.” When we understand that, we don’t need any more education.
Keating entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in Valley Falls, Rhode Island, in January 1944. He was appointed Superior of St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado, in 1958, and was elected abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1961. He returned to Snowmass after retiring as abbot of Spencer in 1981, where he established a program of ten-day intensive retreats in the practice of Centering Prayer, a contemporary form of the Christian contemplative tradition.
He was one of three principal developers of Centering Prayer, a contemporary method of contemplative prayer that emerged from St. Joseph’s Abbey in 1975. William Meninger and Basil Pennington, also Cistercianmonks, were the method’s other principal developers. When the concept was first proposed by Keating, Meninger started teaching a method based on the 14th century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing. Meninger referred to this as the „Prayer of the Cloud” and taught it to priests at the retreat house. Pennington gave the first retreat to a lay audience in Connecticut where the participants suggested the term „Centering Prayer”. Since Thomas Merton had been known to use the term prior to this, it has been suggested the phrase may have originated from him.
In 1984, Keating along with Gustave Reininger and Edward Bednar, co-founded Contemplative Outreach, Ltd., an international and ecumenical spiritual network that teaches the practice of Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina, a method of prayer drawn from the Christian contemplative tradition. Contemplative Outreach provides a support system for those on the contemplative path through a wide variety of resources, workshops, and retreats.
Keating also helped found the Snowmass Interreligious Conference in 1982 and was a past president of the Temple of Understanding and of the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue among other interreligious activities.
- Crisis of Faith (1979) ISBN 0-932506-05-4
- Finding Grace at the Center (1979) ISBN 0-932506-00-3
- Heart of the World (1981) ISBN 0-8245-0014-8
- And the Word Was Made Flesh (1982) ISBN 0-8245-0505-0
- Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (1986) ISBN 0-8264-0696-3
- The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience (1987) ISBN 0-8264-0697-1
- Heart of the World: Spiritual Catechism (1988) ISBN 0-8245-0903-X
- Mystery of Christ (1988) ISBN 0-916349-41-1
- Awakenings (1990) ISBN 0-8245-1044-5
- Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing, by Philip St Romain, illus. Intro. by Thomas Keating (1991) ISBN 0-8245-1062-3
- Reawakenings (1991) ISBN 0-8245-1149-2
- Invitation to Love: The Way of Christian Contemplation (1992) ISBN 0-8264-0698-X
- Intimacy with God (1994) ISBN 0-8245-1588-9
- Loving Search for God: Contemplative Prayer and „The Cloud of Unknowing,”, with William A. Meninger (1994) ISBN 0-8264-0682-3
- Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love (1995) ISBN 0-8264-0805-2
- Active Meditations for Contemplative Prayer (1997) ISBN 0-8264-1061-8
- The Kingdom of God is Like… (1997) ISBN 0-8245-1659-1
- Centering Prayer in Daily Life and Ministry, co-edited with Gustave Reininger (1998) ISBN 0-8264-1041-3
- The Diversity of Centering Prayer (1998) ISBN 0-8264-1115-0
- The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation (Wit Lectures) (1999) ISBN 0-8091-3882-4
- Journey to the Center: A Lenten Passage (1999) ISBN 0-8245-1895-0
- The Better Part: Stages of Contemplative Living (2000) ISBN 0-8264-1229-7
- Fruits and Gifts of the Spirit (2000) ISBN 1-930051-21-2
- St. Therese of Lisieux: A Transformation in Christ (2000) ISBN 1-930051-20-4
- Divine Indwelling: Centering Prayer and Its Development, with George F. Cairns, Thomas R. Ward, Sarah A. Butler, Fitzpatrick-Hopler (2001) ISBN 1-930051-79-4
- Sundays at the Magic Monastery: Homilies from the Trappists of St. Benedict’s Monastery with William Meninger, Joseph Boyle, and Theophane Boyd (2002) ISBN 1-59056-033-7
- Transformation of Suffering: Reflections on September 11 and the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee (2002) ISBN 1-59056-036-1
- The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O. : Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings (2003) ISBN 0-8264-1515-6
- Foundations for Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Life: Open Mind, Open Heart, Invitation to Love, Mystery of Christ (2003) ISBN 0-8264-1397-8
- Manifesting God (2005) ISBN 1-59056-085-X
- Active Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1783-3
- Centering Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1780-9
- Lectio Divina: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1782-5
- Welcoming Prayer: On Retreat with Father Thomas Keating (2005) ISBN 0-8264-1781-7
- Divine Therapy and Addiction: Centering Prayer and the Twelve Steps (2009) ISBN 978-1-59056-144-7
- Reflections on the Unknowable (2014) ISBN 978-1590564370
Audio and video
- Contemplative Prayer (Audio, 1995) ISBN 1-56455-324-8
- The Contemplative Journey (Audio, 1997) ISBN 1-56455-537-2
- The Contemplative Journey, Vol. 2 (Audio, 1997) ISBN 1-56455-538-0
- Searching for God in America (Video, 1997)
- The Contemplative Journey (Audio CD) (2005) ISBN 1-59179-335-1
- Contemplative Prayer: Traditional Christian Meditations for Opening to Divine Union (Audio CD) (2005) ISBN 1-59179-306-8