Category Archives: Thomas Keating

Ways to See God

Rev. Thomas pioneer of the Contemplative Movement died this past week at the age of 95. I share below some quotes from him.

Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation.

God will bring people and events into our lives, and whatever we may think about them, they are designed for the evolution of His life in us.

For human beings, the most daunting challenge is to become fully human. For to become fully human is to become fully divine.

Nothing is more helpful to reduce pride than the actual experience of self-knowledge. If we are discouraged by it, we have misunderstood its meaning.

― Thomas Keating

There is no question in my mind that the best path to God is through silence. Prayer is not measured in the abundance of our words or the eloquence of our speech. Prayer is quietly listening to and waiting for the voice of God. The Contemplative Movement is about bringing this idea into the mainstream of Christian thought and spreading it beyond the limited boundaries of Christianity. Thomas Keating was a pioneer of that concept. Let me share a few ideas, with Keating’s help, about living the Contemplative life.

Silence is God’s Language

  God is not American or Chinese. He is God. The Creator is not impressed with our methods of prayer or our vain attempts to be holy. He is a God who speaks beyond words and we, as His people, must learn to listen and communicate beyond words. Silence is the language of God. Noise is the language of man. (The Devil?) My major calling of the last several years has been to search for silence in my life. In that search, I have come to understand more of God but realize that I have discovered I know less of God.

Pay Attention

When I was a boy my “report cards” often had a checked box that said, “inattentive in class.” My teacher’s method was to let me and my parents know that I was not listening to the message that she was trying to deliver. God has sent people into my life, and your life, for the purpose of teaching us about him and his intention for our lives. We often go through life inattentive of these vital messengers. In silence, we can hear them.

Becoming God’s Creation

Most of us would agree that God created us. The problem is that we immediately begin to try to recreate ourselves in the way that we see ourselves. We forget God as soon as we are able to think for ourselves. Being fully human is to acknowledge that we are created by and dependent on God. In realizing our dependence we become fully human and open the divine gate of our life.

Seeing as God Sees

We all agree that pride is a major problem in ourselves and in the world. Keating draws a correlation between pride and self-knowledge. There are many who see their weaknesses and become forlorn and depressed by them. That’s because we fail to understand the nature of God. God is the ultimate source of love and understanding. He wants us to see ourselves so we can understand him better. He has offered us a “way out” of self-centeredness and self-destruction. That way is to accept his love and understanding, and we can never do that do unless we see ourselves as we truly exist. Self-knowledge is not a road to ruin but a road to the riches of God.

These few points give us a basis to living life and becoming closer to God in that journey. Give some thought to them as you travel the pilgrimage that God has given you this week.


Prayer

Lord ,I so want to see you. Help me to find a path to you. Help not to flounder in my ways. Show me a way to listen and hear so that I may come to understand you and myself as well. Guide me to a quiet place and speak loudly to me.

Amen

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Filed under Prayer, Silence, Thomas Keating

Finding Your Inner Room

Rome 5 June 08 (44)

Everyone needs and inner room, a place where you are with God and God alone. There is really only one way and that is by way of the prayer of quiet. You might begin by learning about centering prayer as taught by Fr. Thomas Keating, Cynthia Bourgeault or David Frenette, or meditation as taught by James Findlay and others.

 

There are four stages of prayer:

 

First: We speak, God listens. Oratio.

 

This would encompass all forms of prayer in words whether read aloud or quietly, or called to mind and recited either internally or externally. May include prayers of petition, thanksgiving, praise, forgiveness, etc.

 

Second: God speaks, we listen

 

. This would encompass reading and reflecting upon God’s word whether it be written as in scripture or as it is found in nature. This may lead to what westerners refer to as meditation, (meditatio) but not necessarily. At its best, this prayer is a meditation on the Word God is speaking to me at this moment. It may be as simple as noticing a roadrunner scurry across the road and reflecting upon the message the creature is bringing to me. It typically refers to taking a short scriptural passage and ruminating upon it until it breaks open.

 

Third: No one speaks, both listen.

 

This is the beginning of the prayer that leads to the inner room. Centering prayer fits this description as the purpose of this prayer is to gently, ever so gently, let go, repeatedly if need be, of thoughts while resting in the space between the thoughts. This is a prayer of letting go of the reigns, so to speak. One is open, receptively waiting upon the presence and action of the Holy One, without expectation. Be stll and know that I am God. We are not listening for any particular messages, in fact, all thoughts and feelings are released the moment we become aware that we have been carried away by them. We are simply being present to one another.

 

Fourth: No one speaks, no one listens. Silence.

 

Also referred to in the West as contemplation or contemplatio. This prayer is typically understood in Catholic circles to be pure gift and it is gift but the gift becomes more readily available to the ones who have fostered the space in which the gift can be received. This is the prayer of the inner room. Although most of us throughout our lives have tasted fleeting moments of this prayer outside of the context of prayer as it is being described here, nonetheless, one needs to cultivate an attitude of receptivity in order to experience this stage of prayer to which each and every one of us is called. It is not reserved for a few lofty souls. Mystical experience may happen for a few but they are not necessary and typically prove to be a hindrance to contemplation because the recipient tends get caught up in them and struggles to let go of them.

 

To find your inner room, you must shut the door and wait quietly, patiently, receptively, without expectations upon God.

 

For you Holy One, my soul in stillness waits.

 

 

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Filed under Centering Prayer, Prayer, Thomas Keating