Everyone (even atheists and agnostics) can find God in silence

Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

The goal of centering prayer, a form of silent meditation, is to quiet the mind and body. The meditator focuses on a word, like “Jesus.” Each time the mind wanders, the meditator silently repeats the word. “Thoughts get fewer,” notes Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., in World Without End, “and you may even experience moments of no movement of mind or body at all.”

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World Without End by Thomas Keating

Bloomsbury Continuum. 176p $15

Father Keating is a monk of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, commonly known as the Trappists, as well as an acclaimed author and the co-founder of the Centering Prayer movement. This compelling new book consists of Keating’s responses to questions posed by Lucette Verboven, a Flemish film producer and writer.

As a boy, Keating would sneak out of his family’s apartment in New York City to attend Mass. While a student at Yale and Fordham University, he was drawn to the wisdom of the Christian mystics, eventually leading him to the Trappists. He later served as abbot of St. Joseph’s Monastery in Spencer, Mass., for two decades. Now 95, he lives in retirement at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colo.

World Without End showcases Keating’s wisdom and his lifelong passion for connecting with God in silence.

World Without End showcases Keating’s wisdom and his lifelong passion for connecting with God in silence. Verboven digs deep by posing questions about Keating’s beliefs. Asked if he ever experienced doubt, Keating says, “Sure, but you can get over that. You have to decide to trust God.”

“We are invited,” Keating says, “to let go of our idea of God, of the spiritual journey, even of Jesus Christ, and to let God be whoever He is.”

The book also includes a separate question and answer session with Father Joseph Boyle, the current abbot of St. Benedict’s Monastery. Boyle expresses similar thoughts about meditation, but the focus is clearly on Keating, who has written more than 30 books on the subject.

World Without End captures Keating’s humility, openness and depth. Atheists, agnostics and spiritual seekers would do well to read this inspiring book. Keating is not trying to convert anyone. He simply wants to introduce readers to the mystery of something beyond the physical world. That something is often called “God.”

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