Father Thomas Keating is a Cistercian monk, a noted retreat master, and founder of the Centering Prayer Movement and Contemplative Outreach. S. Stephanie Iachetta has put together a wonderful resource for daily use during the year. Each entry consists of (1) a brief introductory prayer sentence from the Bible or a traditional prayer of the church or of well-known spiritual writers, (2) a spiritual reading from eleven of Father Keating's books and one audiotape, focusing on one work per month, (3) a brief selection from the Bible or Lectio Divina. The book also includes a section on "The Essentials of the Centering Prayer Method" and several pertinent indexes.
"The spiritual journey does not require going anywhere because God is already with us and in us," states Father Keating. This interior experience of God's presence enables us to discern Him everywhere and in everything from people, to events, to nature. One of chief obstacles to intimacy with God is all the emotional programs we have set up or picked up from the culture, such as living in the past or future, making comparisons with others, and trying to find happiness by focusing on our own needs. Keating observes:
"The Gospel calls us forth to full responsibility for our emotional life. We tend to blame other people or situations for the turmoil we experience. In actual fact, upsetting emotions prove beyond any doubt that the problem is in us. If we do not assume responsibility for our emotional programs on the unconscious level and take measures to change them, we will be influenced by them to the end of our lives. As long as these programs are in place, we cannot hear other people and their cries for help; their problems must first be filtered through our own emotional needs, reactions and prepackaged values."
To free ourselves from this tyranny, we must submit to what Keating calls "divine therapy." Centering Prayer enables us to tap into the divine life within us by focusing on a sacred word. The author has many inspiring things to say about repentance, fighting the false self, faith, silence, reverence, and the fundamental goodness of human nature.
We were pleased to come across several passages where Father Keating discusses the process of divinization. Here is one of them: "The spiritual journey is a struggle to be ever more available to God and to let go of the obstacles to that transforming process. The Gospel is not merely an invitation to be a better person. It is an invitation to become divine. It invites us to share the interior life of the Trinity."