The Better Part: Stages of Contemplative Living
From Library Journal. The "better part," of course, is that chosen by the introspective Mary of Bethany in the New Testament story, whose experience has long been taken by the contemplative religious. Father Keating, leader of the Centering Prayer movement, understands the contemplative and prayerful life as a form of participation in the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus, and his book is both a graceful description of that life and a how-to.
Father Thomas Keating shares lessons on how to eliminate distractions from one's life. He is known throughout the world for his efforts to revive the practice of Christian contemplation. Those efforts have found printed form in his many books and organizational form through Contemplative Outreach.
In 1997 Father Keating delivered the John Main Seminar lectures established by the World Community for Christian Meditation, a group with a similar mission to spread the practice of meditation in the Christian tradition.
The Better Part refers to St. Luke's story of Mary and Martha (10:38-42). While Mary sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying, Martha, distracted by her many tasks, said to Jesus: Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me. To which Jesus replied: Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.
Martha, for Father Keating, represents the Purgative Way; Mary, the Illuminative Way; and Lazarus, a paradigm of Christian transformation.
In the chapters that follow, Father Keating considers, in turn, Lectio Divina, the Eucharist and contemplation, the contemplative dimension of the Gospel, the psychological experience of Center Prayer, common questions asked about Centering Prayer, and finally, the contribution of the Christian contemplative tradition to the merging spiritual consciousness of the coming millennium.
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