Guest Lecturer Father Mark O Keefe
How does practice of the virtues inform and support a life of contemplation? This is the subject of our Guest Lecturer this week, Fr. Mark O’Keefe, O.S.B. of St. Meinrad Archabbey. Distinctive as a Benedictine monk who specializes in the spirituality of the two great Carmelite Doctors of the church, St. Theresa of Avila, and St. John of the Cross, Fr. Mark argues that the insights of these two great saints are a gift to the whole church and all who desire to attain to intimate union with God. The New Melleray monks were impressed by certain insights of Theresa which reflect those of St. Bernard, the spiritual father of our own Cistercian order. Theresa taught there are three indispensable virtues a person must exercise consistently in order for the heart to be prepared for intimacy with God in contemplation: Detachment, Humility, and Love of Neighbor. Fr. Mark emphasized that the soul is formed to be a friend of God by means of many, many choices, one choice at a time, our accumulated choices making us the person we are. Making our own, these acquired virtues, God responds by gifting us with the infused virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. Thus we arrive at the garden of contemplation by a kind of dance of passive and active cooperation with the infinite God. Monks reflecting on these mysteries feel a renewed gratitude for a way of life that supports our own exploration of these enduring mysteries.