May 28, 2018

Session 39

As summarized by the Retreat Directors of The Spiritual Journey, they note that Father Keating illustrates that as the human family enters into rational consciousness, there are three essential relationships that every human being is capable of experiencing. The first is with God, an encounter with the Ultimate Reality which is the depth of our own being -- the unmediated interpenetration of spirits. 

The second essential relationship is the respect and service of other persons, where we are called to love one another as Jesus loved us. The third is stewardship for the earth with all its inhabitants and the cosmos. This seems so logical until we realize that we are experiencing turmoil in our lives and in the world because the emotional programs are ruling over our reason, intellect, and will -- our higher faculties. When Fr. Thomas talks about the emotional programs co-opting our higher faculties, this is what he means. We have the ability to make rational judgments, but instead we make emotional judgments. He says we are being pushed around by our emotions. 

The Christian journey can restore the faculties to their proper place, first through the example of Jesus who is a model of the spiritual journey. We begin to feel the love of God infused into our being and, in gratitude, we consent to God's presence. Resting in God allows the intuitive faculties to function at the deepest level, bringing us to relating to God beyond thoughts, feelings, and particular acts. With the emotions at rest we no longer resist the movement of the Spirit. We begin to experience God in everything and everyone, in all of creation, which is another way of saying we are now living the contemplative dimension of the Gospel. As the human family enters into rational consciousness, there are three essential relationships that every human being is capable of experiencing. The first is with God, an encounter with the Ultimate Reality which is the depth of our own being -- the unmediated interpenetration of spirits. 

Father Keating illustrates what happens in THE UNION OF OUR TRUE SELF (taken from the video The Spiritual Journey Part 3) :

What happens once this transforming union has been established and one moves into that stage of translating all of one’s actions and relationships and into this level of consciousness which is the consciousness of being united with God, with Christ, day and night all the time, whenever one might want to refer to it or think about it? The Ground Unconscious means that one moves into an experience of unity with the Ultimate Reality. The transforming union is the death of the false self, but, at the same time, it is a union of our true self. And one is aware of and in union of a self even if one doesn’t have much interest in it. The “I” of the false self system has died or has relinquished its predominant position and the divine life with its inspirations is predominating and is pointing out what is to be done all the time. And since the emotions are now at rest, they offer no opposition to this movement of the Spirit. At this level it seems that the transforming union can evolve into an even greater unity or experience of oneness with the Ultimate Reality which has now become the Ultimate Presence. And in no way can a concept come anywhere near describing that experience, the experience of unity. Well, if that is attained, then the awareness that God is coming to us and is present at every level of our being and has always been there and can come to us through any experiences of the senses, the imagination, the memory, the intellect. In other words, the whole of the natural organism is suffused with this light, life and love in such a way that it begins to resonate throughout our internal senses and even our bodies with the sensitivity to the Divine Reality presenting itself in an infinite number of ways and now no longer mysterious, hidden or opaque, but open to the x-ray eyes of faith and welcoming us into the world of freedom, which is not freedom to do what we want, but freedom to do what God wants without thinking about it.

Session 40

Father Keating explains in God Is Love: The Heart of All Creation in different words the same point he makes above.  That as we continue on the spiritual journey, God changes us and we are able to understand at a new level God’s will for us and to respond to that.

Taken from God is Love: The Heart of All Creation

 On the night of Christ’s Resurrection, he visits the disciples upstairs in the room. He first says, “Peace be to you.” And he shows them his wounds. Then he said it again, “Peace be to you.” Peace is like a divine kiss. It establishes a certain disposition of enjoyment or contentment or readiness for the relationship, whatever it is. And then he breathes on them. This is a very significant symbol because he clarifies it in case there’s any doubt: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” So, the kisses become even more passionate, you might say, in the spiritual sense and the giving of the Spirit is the interpenetration of spirits. The oneness of the continuing experience of loving with fidelity and trust and love begins to move into a unity consciousness in which the presence of God and us are not distinct anymore. This isn’t usually a permanent state in this world because of the other things you have to do to survive. But this presupposes that after the transforming union, a new level of Christian life opens up that is meant to go further from a union, as wonderful as that is, with God to a unity in which God takes over the faculties more and more. And as in Jesus, [God] manifests himself in everything we do by suggesting what the right response to every situation is from the perspective of divine love. All self-interest is transformed into abandonment to the divine will and the openness to manifesting it. This is heaven on earth, that’s for sure. But it’s extremely down to earth and it doesn’t need extraordinary consolations, or still less, visions or things. It’s just leading ordinary life from this extraordinary perspective of allowing God to manifest in us rather than ego or false self or anything else.

Resources for Further Study: You may wish to read Chapters 15 and 17 in Invitation to Love (20th anniversary edition), Chapters 14 and 16 in older editions.

You also may wish to read Chapters 4 and 5 in Intimacy with God (20th anniversary edition), Chapters 8 and 9 in older editions.