Tag: Villa de Matel

Remembering Thomas Keating

Fr. Thomas Keating, (1923-2018)

Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O.
7 March 1923 – 25 October 2018
Requiescat In Pace

Editor’s Note: Father Thomas Keating¹, Co-Founder of centering prayer and a pioneer in contemplative prayer, Christian spirituality, and interfaith dialogue died yesterday, October 25, 2018, at age 95.

It was at one of his lectures back in 1998 that Fr. Keating set me on the contemplative path and introduced me to centering prayer. And because his teaching and writing have had such a profound influence on me over the years, I feel a deep, personal loss. Fr. Keating may no longer be with us physically, but there is no doubt in my mind that his ministry and spiritual legacy will continue until the end of time. May he rest in peace.


Born in New York City in 1923, Thomas Keating attended Deerfield Academy, Yale University, and Fordham University, where he graduated in December 1943. He entered the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance (also known as Trappists) in Valley Falls, Rhode Island, in January 1944. He was appointed Superior of St. Benedict’s Monastery, Snowmass, Colorado, in 1958, and was elected abbot of St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts, in 1961. He returned to Snowmass after retiring as abbot of Spencer in 1981, where he established a program with retreats in the practice of Centering Prayer, a contemporary form of the Christian contemplative tradition through the auspices of Contemplative Outreach.²

I remember it like it was yesterday. While serving a local Baptist church as associate pastor back in 1998, I received a sign from God. Well, in a manner of speaking. As I recall, it was a tiny classified ad in the Houston Chronicle’s Religion Section that, at first glance, appeared to be either a typo or an oxymoron announcing that a Trappist monk would be speaking at a Baptist church. As it turned out, the ad was legit. The church was River Oaks Baptist Church. The monk? Also, legit – Thomas Keating.

Intrigued, I attended Father Keating’s lecture on prayer that evening where he stood front and center on the stage, his hands gently folded as in in prayer, speaking for about ninety minutes without the use of a podium or notes. He spoke both extemporaneously and compellingly to a packed-out church on the importance of taking the time out of our busy daily lives and schedules to make a connection with God. (Keating likened it to sending God many short emails throughout the day. Today we would just text or FaceTime God.) To my ears, it sounded like a Christian version of meditation; he referred to it as centering prayer. I left the church that night in amazement of what I had just heard with a well-fed soul, an armful of Keating’s books, and a commitment to God to learn more. And learn more I did during the next several years through his lectures, more than 40 books and videos, and dozens of centering prayer and silent prayer retreats I participated in at Villa de Matel, in Houston.

Today, with more than twenty years having now passed since my introduction to Christian “meditation” (thank you, Fr. Keating), I’m now the one standing in front of people teaching and spreading the “good news” of contemplative prayer.  And along with thousands of other disciples and people all over the world, I express my appreciation for the profound influence of Father Keating on my life and give thanks to God for the enormous spiritual legacy he has left behind for generations to come.


1 R.I.P. Father Thomas Keating | National Catholic Reporter (NCR)

2 Thomas Keating Bio | Wikipedia – the free Encyclopedia

3 Photo Credit: Fr. Thomas Keating | Public Domain by Christopher [CC BY 2.0  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Spaces: Villa de Matel Chapel

Villa Chapel | Villa de Matel Houston | Used with permission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word | Nexus Prayer International

Villa de Matel Chapel, Houston

This journal entry continues my introduction to chapels and sacred spaces. The sacred spaces page may be found under the “Resources” menu at the top of this page.

Ruah Sprirituality Center | 6510 Lawndale St. • Houston, TX 77023 | Phone: (713) 928-6053

Located near the heart of downtown Houston, the circa 1920s Villa de Matel Chapel (Villa Chapel) is closer to a Gothic cathedral than a small church building designed for prayer. Yet, despite the breadth of its size and the depth of its beauty, I’ve been blessed to spend many an hour there in both community and solitary contemplative prayer, as well as attend many church services, Taizé prayer services, and weekend centering prayer retreats at the Ruah Spirituality Center.  This is indeed a very special, sacred space to me (that’s the Villa Chapel in the background of my bio photo.)

Ruah’s mission as described on their official website says it best: “Ruah’s spaces are set apart for silence. Silence is presented as nonnegotiable: it is offered as a gift and guarded as a treasure for those who seek. Here people are led to rest in God’s presence; then the same Breath of God (Ruah) who drew them here sends them out to confidently echo the good news of God’s love on the streets of their lives.”

I encourage you to visit the Villa Chapel (reservations required) and, while there, enjoy the healing, spiritual environment of their nature walks, labyrinth, silent prayer retreats, and their contemplative prayer of choice, Centering Prayer. But while there, I also invite you to give nexus prayer a try. Nexus prayer can be done in as little as five minutes a day and The Steps are easy to learn. Questions? Feel free to contact me anytime!

Note: Although a work in progress, I encourage you to visit the sacred spaces page on this website regularly to discover chapels and other sacred spaces in your local area (or anywhere around the world) where you may visit…and pray. – aaw


1 Photo Credit: Villa Chapel photograph Copyright © 2017 Villa de Matel. Used with express written permission. | Many thanks to the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and The Ruah Spirituality Center for the gift of their ministry to the Greater Houston area, as well as their kind permission to link to their website and use their photo of of the beautiful Villa Chapel on this website.

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