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Fr. Thomas Keating
The gift of contemplative prayer
Benedictine Fr. Thomas Keating speaks on the ancient and modern origins of contemplative prayer, which he calls Centering Prayer, and its place in our lives. He sees contemplative prayer as a gift from God, allowing us to open to the Spirit in a deeper and much needed way.
Episode 1: Rediscovering the tradition (17 min.)
“Centering prayer is not something new,” Keating tells interviewer Tom Fox. “It is simply an effort to update the apophatic contemplative tradition coming down from Gregory of Nyssa and The Cloud [of Unknowing] and the Carmelites, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila.” Keating set about rediscovering this tradition for what he calls “the grass-roots part of the church, the parishes and the schools.”
Episode 2: Consenting to the invitation to transformation (16 min.)
Centering prayer is a gift of grace, Keating says. “But to sit there waiting for it to drop from heaven is not the right approach to awaken something that is already an innate power of grace.” Thus the need for practice and discipline. Read Matthew 6:6. Keating also talks about conversations he has had with philosopher Ken Wilbur.
Episode 3: Encountering silence (19 min.)
Silence is so much an aspect of the spirituality of the old and New Testament. Everything comes out of silence and returns to it. So it should be a part of education,” Fr. Keating said. “It is through the practice of silence that we begin to become vulnerable to the true self and the supernatural organism we receive with grace and baptism. … We think that even preschoolers should be introduced to silence,” Fr. Keating tells Tom Fox. He also discusses original sin.
Episode 4: The need for renewal (19 min.)
Forty years of studying contemplation has led Fr. Keating to this conclusion: “All of Christianity and especially the institutional aspects and structures of it need to be regularly renewed to ensure they are transparent of the original intention of the Gospel,” which he says is “the way of transformed life. He talks about recovering a contemplative dimension for our society that will give us the courage to face pressing social needs as well as the ordinary human problems of our private lives. Fr. Keating also describes a “contemplative Mass.”