Thursday, October 8, 2009

IV. Contemplation

"Contemplation, according to Father John of Jesus-Mary Aravalles is the application of the will to truths which the mind presents to it as the conclusion of its considerations or meditations. After thoroughly considering a subject, the mind tries to reduce all considerations concerning it to one principal thought and to concentrate everything into one practical conclusion. The mind dwells on this thought and contemplates it, while the will adheres to it and firmly resolves to put it into practice. Being resolved to act, the soul then addresses itself to the Most Blessed Trinity, or more commonly to Christ, the second Person, who ordinarily exemplifies the truth one is meditating upon. The soul then tells God the Father, or Our Lord, of its love for Him and its desire to belong to Him entirely. It humbly beseeches Him for help to carry out its resolutions, with absolute confidence in its detachment from self. The soul thus surrenders itself to Him and asks Him to accomplish in it what it cannot do itself.

It is this simple gaze fixed on the Most Blessed Trinity, or on Christ, with the loving colloquy which accompanies it, that the Carmelite authors we have cited above call contemplation. For them this is the central point of discursive prayer, as can be seen especially in the writings of St John of the Cross and St Teresa. For St Teresa, prayer is above all 'a friendly converse in which we speak intimately with God by whom we know we are loved.' She wants us to tell God of our love for Him, familiarly, without trying to compose beautiful soliloquies or prolonging these more than necessary, with the intent above all to give ourselves to Him, to please Him, to do the divine Will in everything, and to become one with Christ in the practice of virtue.

Sometimes the soul becomes silent, engages in contemplation, makes acts of love; then it listens to what God wants to to hear. For He speaks to those who love Him, not precisely in words that the ear hears, but by enlightening them. 'God speaks to us,' said St Teresa, 'even though we do not hear Him. He speaks to the heart when we pray from the heart.'

These acts in which the soul gives expression to its love and its desire to belong entirely to God are, at first, rather numerous; they become fewer as the soul makes progress, for then the soul comes to prefer certain acts of love which keep it better united to God Our Lord."

-- The Spirit and Prayer of Carmel by Fr François Jamart, ocd

No comments: