The Christian contemplative tradition has its roots in the gospel, and it is here that the spiritual journey common to man is first elaborated by Jesus himself. The richness of this tradition comes from the insights and example of those who through the centuries have lived in accordance with the guidance first presented in the gospels.
The process of Christian transformation presented here as the crisis of faith and the crisis of love is based on later mystical writers, especially St. John of the Cross, as the dark nights of soul and spirit.
The interpretation of scriptural texts is inexhaustible, and the spiritual sense of Scripture elaborated by the Fathers and Mothers of the Church has been used again and again to illustrate insights useful to the various stages of spiritual development. This rich storytelling tradition can be used to trace a gospel map of the spiritual journey, showing the progress of transformation that is outlined there, once our capacity to listen to the Word of God has been sharpened by the habit of contemplative prayer.
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“Spiritual progress consists first of all in embracing the reality of original sin as it exists in ourselves, but without despairing. That is difficult to do. Human nature is constantly presented with two great temptations: despair and pride. Everybody who likes to oversimplify and to solve things by the quick route, in three easy lessons, is very much tempted in one direction or the other. Either he gives the spiritual life up as impossible, ‘I’m too bad,’ which is a sin against hope. Or he says, ‘Well, I guess I’m pretty good after all with all these virtues of mine, I’m all set,’ and that is presumption.” (Page 37)
“Everyone who has truly borne his own sinfulness has borne the sinfulness of everyone else, and the world is redeemed again through him. He has died the most important death, which is that of the false self. When his physical death comes, it will be, like Christ’s, a redeeming death.” (Page 100)
“Any true contemplative life is always going to involve a large proportion of suffering. If for a few moments, even a half hour, some great graces come our way, they will make the other twenty-three and a half more burdensome. The great monastic fathers never held out a panacea for our spiritual ills in this life. The Christian life, they said, is perfect only in heaven. Anybody who seeks his or her reward in this life is not only going to be disappointed, but is on the wrong road.” (Page 51)
“The awakening to divine life does not normally take place in a single moment, but gradually.” (Page 103)
“Pride, avarice, gluttony, vainglory, ambition, lust, and all the others. A person dedicated to the spiritual journey is no more exempt from these temptations than anybody else.” (Page 41)
Under the influence of Christian mystics such as St. John of the Cross, Keating weaves a narrative account of spiritual development that will be of . . . interest to spiritual directors and seekers.
In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
Thomas Keating is known throughout the world as an exponent, teacher, and writer on contemplative prayer. A Cistercian (Trappist) monk of St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado, he is a founder of the Centering Prayer Movement and of Contemplative Outreach. He is the author of numerous books, particularly of the trilogy Open Mind, Open Heart; Invitation to Love; and The Mystery of Christ. Among his most recent books is The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living, compiled by S. Stephanie Iachetta. He served as abbot at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Massachusetts for 20 years before retiring to Snowmass, where he now resides.