"The start, middle, and end of the spiritual journey is the conviction that God is always present. As we progress in this journey, we perceive God's presence more and more. As we emerge from childhood into full, reflective consciousness, our concept of how God is present in us is usually vague and primitive. The spiritual journey is a gradual process of enlarging our emotional, mental and physical relationship with the divine reality that is present in us but not ordinarily accessible to our emotions or concepts." This description of the journey comes from Father Thomas Keating, a Benedictine Catholic priest and founder of the Centering Prayer movement. He is profiled on Spirituality & Practice as a Living Spiritual Teacher.
In this paperback, Keating emphasizes the importance of the Divine Indwelling for the Christian. What does it mean?
1. "To believe in the Divine Indwelling within us, fully present and energizing every level of our being.
"2. To recognize that this energy is benign, healing, and transforming.
"3. To open to its gradual unfolding, step by step, both in prayer and action."
In most Christian traditions, the fruits of the Spirit are indications of God's transformative presence working within us. In Galatians 5:22-3, St. Paul lists nine aspects of the mind of Christ: charity, joy, peace, meekness (kindness), faithfulness (fidelity), gentleness, goodness, longsuffering (patience), and self-control. Instead of working with these virtues, Keating turns to the Seven Gifts of the Spirit described in Isaiah 11:2.
He begins with a look at Reverence which "keeps us true to ourselves and to God" and moves on to Fortitude which is illustrated by the martyrdom of the seven Trappist monks in Algeria. The gift of Piety enables us to identify with the suffering of others and even love our enemies. These character qualities are rounded out by the gifts of Counsel, Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom.