Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Thomas Keating @ Folsom Prison

Dom Thomas Keating OCSO was my abbot at Saint Joseph's Abbey while I was there between 1963-1968. During my time there, I had Father Thomas as a spiritual director, little realizing how much of a trial he was having as abbot during such a tumultuous time after Vatican II where the insights of Pope John XXIII were being met with such conflicting opinions. During those years, Dom Thomas underwent a metamorphosis from the centuries old predominance of asceticism and austerity of Trappist life, to the more contemplative ancient emphasis on interior prayer as Jesus recommended when he is quoted in Mark 1:15 as saying, "The present moment is the right time. Change the way you think for the Kingdom of God is WITHIN you. Believe this good news."

Mt.6:6 continues this in presenting Jesus as saying, "When you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father , who is unseen."

This practice of interior contemplative prayer was emphasized by monks and mystics through the centuries, but was less emphasized by the Western Church where Sacraments, liturgy and service were prominent. In modern times, many religious wish to have a greater and more meaningful experience of God than they seemed to be having, and many turned to the East and meditation and Zen and Buddhist religions for what they sought.

Father Thomas realized that without diminishing the apostolic works in their daily life, experiences in meditative and contemplative life might give the faithful what they sought. The combination of Faith and Contemplative Prayer is what offered the faithful what they sought. Dom Thomas while at Saint Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass Colorado began Centering Prayer with retreatants. The practice has spread worldwide in thirty years. A few years ago, Dom Thomas visited Folsom Maximum Security Prison to talk with prisoners there who have formed centering prayer groups. The following is a link to those sessions which I hope you will like. Thank you.     Charlie Mc