Father Thomas Keating-Contemplative Prayer

Has anyone heard of Father Thomas Keating and his contemplative prayer methods? I am interested in deep prayer and his approach appears to be a path that I would like to explore.

Might I suggest you explore traditional Lectio Divina before you go down the path of Thomas Keating. His style has always struck me as a bit New Age. Proceed with caution.

Yes.

Be advised this has been a very controversial subject on this forum.

That said, I was involved in centering prayer, and it did a great deal of good for me – the centering prayer itself, but maybe even more watching the videotapes of him explaining the human mind and the spiritual journey.

There are many unqualified people out there who make false claims and sometimes lead to bad experiences so I’ve heard, so maybe you should contact your area’s rep for Keating’s group Contemplative Outreach to make sure the one you’re considering is legit, or to find meetings near you.

The other poster mentioned Lectio Divina. That’s also a good practice and not controversial. This one actually takes you from literal meaning down through the various levels of intimacy with the word, and ends up with “resting.” Centering prayer goes directly to “resting” so Lectio may be a better place to start to give you a wider range, and a more gradual entry into silent prayer.

It is the opinion of me and many other Catholics that centering prayer, as defined and practiced by Keating et al, is entirely Catholic, is not dangerous, and is in line with the Cloud of the Unknowing. There are also many Catholics who think it’s heresy, new age, eastern, and basically a very bad thing.

Then again, many times what they think is bad is based on incorrect information. It’s almost like a religion within a religion it seems, as to whether you’re “pro-CP” or “anti-CP.” (CP = centering prayer)

Basically, Lectio Divina has been a monastic practice for a long time. Centering prayer is a relatively recent “invention” as a method intended to make contemplative prayer available to religious and lay people with active (as opposed to cloistered) life.

If you want to deepen your prayer life, first you might read CCC 2697-2724 about Christian prayer, and you might consider getting a spiritual director. If you haven’t heard of spiritual direction, it can be a really Good Thing and besides, I don’t dare recommend you go to CP without suggesting you get advice from a spiritual director on these forums, if you know what I mean. :stuck_out_tongue:

Alan

I think Fr. Keating enjoys a certain amount of (undeserved) name recognition because he happens to have the same last name as some other well-respected (and orthodox) Catholic guy.

I agree with previous posters that CP is like digitalis. It can be beneficial, but if you misuse it just a bit, it can be very harmful. I would not recommend it except to someone WELL grounded in prayer and contemplation (and, even then, I doubt I would recommend it as much as tolerate it).

[quote=DavidFilmer]I think Fr. Keating enjoys a certain amount of (undeserved) name recognition because he happens to have the same last name as some other well-respected (and orthodox) Catholic guy.

[/quote]

You’re probably right. :slight_smile:

For me it worked the other way. I never knew of a Keating other than the monk until I found this forum. Maybe I don’t watch EWTN enough, but I really knew little of the world of “apologetics” except my kids had classes in it at school. :hmmm:

Alan

[quote=sdigrazi]Has anyone heard of Father Thomas Keating and his contemplative prayer methods? I am interested in deep prayer and his approach appears to be a path that I would like to explore.
[/quote]

I tossed them.

If you are interested in contemplative prayer (which centering prayer is attempting to approximate), you should read the works written by Saints who were masters of contemplative prayer. The work by St. Teresa of Avila, Interior Castle is a mastepiece(the edition that I have is published by Doubleday books). I cannot recommend it enough. St. Teresa is a Doctor of the Church and was a mystic. St. John of the Cross is also great.

Thanks for the input. I’ll go slow. I am so impatient sometimes. I participate regularly in the Sacraments, but my prayer life has been lacking and I really want to get back on track. But it is hard with my busy adult life. The concept of living more in my true self in closer union with God and moving away from my false self really seems to be resinating with me. But…I’ll take it slow…

Thanks Again

There is another long thread called “Re: centering prayer is dangerous” that has lots of good information on this topic.

Try these previous threads,

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=71180

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=12671

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=62244

Thomas Keating does not teach contemplative prayer, because it is not something that can be taught, as the great spiritual masters of contemplation such as John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila tell us. What he does promote is Centering Prayer. Do a search there are dozens of threads on the dangers of this fad, including a current one on this forum.

[quote=sdigrazi]Has anyone heard of Father Thomas Keating and his contemplative prayer methods? I am interested in deep prayer and his approach appears to be a path that I would like to explore.
[/quote]

A great book on the prayer life: Fire Within, by Fr. Thomas Dubay.

There is a great thread that is rather long but very informative about the Secular Carmelites. This 3rd order of the Carmelites is a branch of the order which St. Theresa, St. Teresa and St. John were members. The main charism for this order is prayer and contemplation. You can get a great start here:
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=23723&highlight=secular

As to reading “Fire Within” and “Interior Castle” they are very involved books. They are excellent!

The difference between recollection and contemplation is this. (At least how I see it. If I am wrong I’m sure buzzcut, joysong or springbreeze can correct me.)

When we read a piece of scripture we meditate on the reading. This can also be a meditation about one of the parts of the passion or just meditating on the glory of God. We meditate by thinking how we relate to it. We think about how what we can learn from it and how we can improve. After meditation we can sit quietly and listen for God. We do this by focusing our attention to him and ignoring other thoughts. When God wills it He will take us to another level, closer to Him. He will suspend our will or our thought. This is contemplation. We no longer have to work at quieting our minds. He does this for us.

St. Teresa uses water for an example of the difference between contemplation and recollection. She says at the beginning, while we are turning our lives to God and cleaning up our soul we must bring the water to the well. We must do the hard work. As we bring our wills closer to God, He starts to bring the water and it is a river that flows and fills the soul.

Stick with the Saints and learn from them. God graced them so they may be an example for all of us.

Peace,
Jen

I have found his writings very helpful. As a Catholic who began having strange symptoms due to intense prayer and meditation it explained a lot. I had never read him until desperately searching for answers to what was happening to me. I went to the Dr. Had CAT scans nothing showed up as abnormal. He is a lifesaver, and now I have such a close relationship with the Lord.

I have found his writings very helpful. As a Catholic who began having strange symptoms due to intense prayer and meditation it explained a lot. I had never read him until desperately searching for answers to what was happening to me. I went to the Dr. Had CAT scans nothing showed up as abnormal. He is a lifesaver, and now I have such a close relationship with the Lord.

this is an old thread, and one of the reasons for the ban
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=434589
in the stickies above this forum
welcome to the forum, please read the rules of the road and stickies on each forum before posting.

no I am not a mod but it’s Sunday, their day of rest

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