Tag Archives: contemplation

Union with others

Union with others can only be realized by means of our progress in the spiritual life, and in the measure in which we turn away from all that is external in order to be united with God. A man in a state of grace is, indeed, a kind of world, at the center of which God never ceases to be and to act.

A Carthusian Monk
The Prayer of Love and Silence

Saint John of the Cross

Juan de la CruzToday, we mark the liturgical memorial of a magnificent saint (all saints are magnificent!), the 16th century Carmelite friar, John of the Cross.

A friend posted the following on contemplation:

“Contemplation is nothing less than a secret, peaceful and loving infusion from God. The road of contemplation is where God himself feeds and refreshes the soul directly, without the soul’s help or meditation.

There is a remarkable transformation of the heart’s desires as a result of surrendering to God in our soul’s center. Our desire and God’s desire now join in a consonance of desire.

The nature of love is to be united, linked up with and at one with the object of its love. Only love unites and cements the soul with God. The soul lives in that which it loves.

Prayer, by its nature, involves a sense of incompleteness and thus of longing in truth.

The more God wants to give us, the more He makes us desire–even to the point of leaving us empty in order to fill us with goods. Be careful that you do not lack the desire to be poor and in want.

In following Christ in the contemplative way, without laying down one’s own ground rules and conditions, we grow into dimensions of the reality of God’s love which lie beyond what we can comprehend, experience or place in any systematic order. We are stripped of all guarantees which are rooted in the self, and we begin to live on the faith, trust and love that we have for God. We now experience God more as he is–as sheer Mystery.

Prayer ultimately leads us to go beyond anything that can be known. We travel unknowing into an unknown land and we learn how to stay there, knowing naught.”

Pope Francis visits Camaldolese monastery

As one of the final events for the Year of Faith Pope Francis will have a “Pro Orantibus Day,” honoring the liturgical feast of of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since 1953, today has been a day of prayer for those belonging to contemplative religious orders.  Pope Pius XII established this day to remind all the faithful of the indispensability of contemplative vocation for the health of the Church. It is also a day many of the Benedictine Oblates renew their oblation to their monastery.

Pope Francis called today “a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work.”

The Pope urged the faithful to give their spiritual and material support to these brothers and sisters “so that they can carry out their important mission.”

At Vespers, the Pope Francis will visit a Camaldolese monastery of cloistered nuns, Sant’Antonio abate, on the Aventine hill. Previous Roman Pontiffs have prayed at this monastery.

Here’s a VERY fascinating interview with Veronica Scarisbrick of Vatican Radio with one of the nuns (the radio link) at Sant’Antonio.

Listen to the interview, please. AND there’s another report here from Vatican Radio.

Rome Reports has a report here.

Contemplation AND ordinary experience praise God

I would say that it is very important in the contemplative life not to overemphasize the contemplation. If we constantly overemphasize those things to which access is inevitably quite rare, we overlook the ordinary authentic real experiences of everyday life as real things to enjoy, things to be happy about, things to praise God for.

But the ordinary realities of everyday life, the faith and love with which we live our normal human lives, provide the foundation on which we build those higher things. If there is no foundation, then we have nothing at all!

How can we relish the higher things of God if we cannot enjoy some simple little thing that comes along as a gift from Him!

Thomas Merton
Contemplation in a World of Action

Saint Bonaventure on mystical prayer

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One of the famous works of Saint Bonaventure’s is his Journey of the Mind to God. You see it in many places for those wanting a glimpse into this significant medieval thinker. It was in the Roman Divine Office of Readings. We always need an insight or two into contemplation, what it means, how it exists, and so forth. There is no exhausting one’s search into understanding mystical prayer.

I want you to listen to Veronica Scarisbrick’s interview with Franciscan Father Rick S. Martignetti who works in Rome and has authored of Saint Bonaventure’s Tree of Life: Theology of the Mystical Journey (Grottaferrata, 2004). It is a study of Bonaventure’s understanding on prayer and life in the paschal mystery. I found Scarisbrick’s interview both delightful and helpful.

Christ is both the way and the door. Christ is the staircase and the vehicle, like the throne of mercy over the Ark of the Covenant, and the mystery hidden from the ages. A man should turn his full attention to this throne of mercy, and should gaze at him hanging on the cross, full of faith, hope and charity, devoted, full of wonder and joy, marked by gratitude, and open to praise and jubilation. Then such a man will make with Christ a pasch, that is, a passing-over. Through the branches of the cross he will pass over the Red Sea, leaving Egypt and entering the desert. There he will taste the hidden manna, and rest with Christ in the sepulchre, as if he were dead to things outside. He will experience, as much as is possible for one who is still living, what was promised to the thief who hung beside Christ: Today you will be with me in paradise.

For this passover to be perfect, we must suspend all the operations of the mind and we must transform the peak of our affections, directing them to God alone. This is a sacred mystical experience. It cannot be comprehended by anyone unless he surrenders himself to it; nor can he surrender himself to it unless he longs for it; nor can he long for it unless the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent into the world, should come and inflame his innermost soul. Hence the Apostle says that this mystical wisdom is revealed by the Holy Spirit.

If you ask how such things can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the longing of the will, not in the understanding; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom not the teacher; God and not man; darkness not daylight; and look not to the light but rather to the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervour and glowing love. The fir is God, and the furnace is in Jerusalem, fired by Christ in the ardour of his loving passion. Only he understood this who said: My soul chose hanging and my bones death. Anyone who cherishes this kind of death can see God, for it is certainly true that: No man can look upon me and live.

Let us die, then, and enter into the darkness, silencing our anxieties, our passions and all the fantasies of our imagination. Let us pass over with the crucified Christ from this world to the Father, so that, when the Father has shown himself to us, we can say with Philip: It is enough. We may hear with Paul: My grace is sufficient for you; and we can rejoice with David, saying: My flesh and my heart fail me, but God is the strength of my heart and my heritage for ever. Blessed be the Lord for ever, and let all the people say: Amen. Amen!

(Cap. 7,1 2.4.6: Opera Omnia, 5, 312-313)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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