Thomas Keating's Legacy
Father Thomas Keating is considered by many to be one of the few genuinely realized Christian saints in the world today. He continues to be a prominent voice in the Christian Centering Prayer movement through the organization he founded, Contemplative Outreach, an international network committed to renewing the contemplative dimension of the Gospel in daily life.
To quote Katharine Q. Seelye, from Father Keating’s obituary in the New York Times:
The arc of his life took Father Keating from riches to rags and back to riches again, Mr. Jones said in a telephone interview: He was born into affluence and privilege in Manhattan, walked away from it all when he entered an austere monastic community in Rhode Island, and was rewarded with spiritual riches.
Father Thomas Keating, O. C. S. O., was born March 7, 1923, and died on October 25, 2018. He entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance in 1944. In 1958 he was appointed Superior of St Benedict’s Abbey in Snowmass, Colorado, two years after the abbey had been founded. He was elected abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer Massachusetts, in 1961 and served for twenty years until he retired and moved back to St. Benedict’s Abbey in Snowmass. During his time at St. Joseph’s Abbey, in 1975, he and two other Trappist monks, William Meninger and Basil Pennington, developed centering prayer, a contemporary form of contemplative prayer, based on the 14th century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing. The three worked with practitioners of other traditions, including Zen master Joshu Roski Sasaki, and a former Trappist, Paul Marechal, who taught Transcendental Meditation. Keating especially was disappointed that so many Catholics were leaving the church to seek out Eastern religions, which offered contemplative practices that cultivated the inner peace and spiritual union that they desired. So, he resurrected the Christian tradition of contemplative prayer in a form that was accessible to people to inspire them to return to their Christian roots.