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Father Thomas Keating
August 18, 2006 06:22

Who is Father Thomas Keating?

Father Thomas Keating, a writer and teacher considered by many to be one of the few genuinely realized Christian saints in the world today, is a founding member of the Spirituality branch of Integral Institute. At the age of eighty-one, 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.

Keating, born in New York in 1923, entered the Cistercian Order in Valley Falls, Rhode Island in 1944 and was appointed Superior of St. Benedict's Monastery of Snowmass, Colorado in 1958. Three years later he became Abbot of St. Joseph's Abbey of Spencer, Massachusetts, before retiring to Snowmass—a small mountain community of just over a dozen monks—in 1981, where he remains today.

Although the Centering Prayer movement did not officially take off until the late seventies, Keating had been interested in the mystical roots of Christianity since the early 1940s while a student at Yale, where his entire Roman Catholic worldview was shaken by a freshman philosophy class. While studying Thomas Aquinas's Catena Aurea, a line-by-line exposition of the four Gospels, Keating had a sudden intuition of the importance of Scripture as spiritual metaphor—a metaphor pointing to the possibility for all men and women to experience a direct union with the Divine through spiritual practice.

One such example of Scripture—Matthew 6:6, where Jesus says, “If you want to pray, enter your inner room, lock the door and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, in secret, will reward you”—became the rallying cry of the Desert Fathers of the third and fourth centuries who further developed the practice of “pure prayer,” named for its ability to circumvent thought to rest directly in the presence of God.

The contemporary form of centering prayer was initially developed during Keating's tenure as abbot at St. Joseph's, where he was inspired by the Second Vatican Council's call for spiritual renewal in the Catholic Church. Keating would soon seek ways to keep young Catholics from leaving the Church in search of more contemplative—and Eastern—paths.

With the help of Keating and other Christian contemplatives like Thomas Merton, John Main, and Basil Pennington, the movement struck an obvious chord, drawing thousands of Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, and others to workshops and retreats, especially the ten-day retreats at St. Benedict's, which often fill up a year in advance.

It helps that Keating also has an unusually open-minded attitude towards the meditative practices of other traditions and has studied with spiritual teachers from a variety of Hindu and Buddhist lineages, for this lead to the creation of the Snowmass Interreligious Conference in 1982, where teachers from diverse paths meet regularly to compare notes and evaluate the successes and failures of their respective practices. Other organizations graced by the presence of Keating include the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (which sponsors exchanges between the monks and nuns of every religion), and the International Committee for Peace Council.

Keating is also a best-selling author, having penned, along with many other publications, the best-selling Open Heart, Open Mind in 1986, a clarion call for many to the need for transformational practice within the Christian tradition.

Amazingly, within this flurry of activity Keating has nevertheless found the time to deepen his own relationship to the Divine—which he likens "to two friends sitting in silence, being in each other's presence"—to such a degree that he is sought the world over for his extraordinary warmth, humility, and deep-centered love.

Integral Contemplative Christianity with Father Thomas

Integral Contemplative Christianity unites the transcendent beauty and wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition with AQAL (All Quadrants, All Lines), the leading-edge map of human consciousness and development. Co-presented by Fr. Thomas Keating and teachers from Integral Institute, the seminar will explore St. Paul’s statement, “Let the same consciousness that was in Christ Jesus be within you as well.”

Christians today are at an historic crossroads. The mystical tradition of the Church, neglected to some extent over the past centuries, has begun to be rediscovered. At the same time, the insights of modern and postmodern psychology and philosophy have presented both an enormous challenge and a remarkable opportunity to Christians.

For more information on Integral Contemplative Christianity, Click Here.

Centering Prayer Retreats

Centering Prayer Retreats
Benet Pines Retreat Center, Colorado Springs, CO
October 20-22

8-Day Post Intensive Centering Prayer Retreats
St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, CO
November 3-10 & 13-20, 2006
November 2-9 & 12-19, 2007

10-Day Intensive Retreats
St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, CO
September 5-14
January 9-18, 2007
May 15-24, 2007
June 19-28, 2007
September 11-20, 2007
October 9-18, 2007

10-Day Post Intensive Centering Prayer Retreats
St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, CO
December 5-14
March 5-14, 2007
April 17-26, 2007
July 31-August 9, 2007
December 4-13, 2007

10-Day Advanced Intensive Centering Prayer Retreats St. Benedict's Monastery, Snowmass, CO
February 6-15, 2007

For more information on these retreats, Click Here.

Father Thomas Keating's Bibliography

Finding Grace at the Center (with Pennington, B. & Cark, Thomas E.)
St. Bede's Publishing, 1978

Open Mind, Open Heart
Continuum Publishing, 1986

The Mystery of Christ
Continuum Publishing, 1991

Crossroads, 1991

Intimacy with God
Crossroads, 1994

Crisis of Faith, Crisis of Love
Continuum Publishing, 1995

The Human Condition: Contemplation and Transformation
Paulist Press, 1999

St. Therese of Lisieux
Lantern Books, 2001

Manifesting God
Lantern Books, 2005


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