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Holistic Vision of Thomas Keating 3

In the next several newsletters, I will share quotations and paraphrases from one of my root teachers, Thomas Keating, whose approach is at the heart of RCMR5.

The Western Model of God [self-outside-of-God and God-outside-of-self] espoused the idea of external works and piling up certain merits in order to require God, it would seem, to give us his reward in heaven. And so this is the mentality that seems to have gone with what would represent, in those days, a good Catholic [Christian] life. 

Well, you can touch off the various points: to get to church on Sunda and Holy Days of Obligation; to fast and abstain on the appointed days (every Friday); to contribute to the support of the pastors; not to marry non-Catholics [non-Christians], to go to the Eucharist once a year and confession prior to that; and, perhaps, if you are very devout, to join the Altar Society or the Holy Name Society; and then be sure to call the priest on time so that you could receive the last rites, pass into glory, and to receive your stockpile of merits which you have accrued numerically, you might say.

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Now this, of course, is a little caricature of what a good Catholic [Christian] was in those days, but not too far off the beam. And this was the fruit of the whole idea of merits (which has some merit) was misunderstood in this context and exaggerated out of all proportions and with a certain blissful disregard of what Scripture has to say about these things. 

And finally, the emphasis of the “Western Model” was on getting guarantees of future reward and happiness rather than on being concerned for loving and being united to God in this life and in serving others in need.

Thomas Keating

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