PART IV: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
Section One: Prayer in the Christian Life
Chapter 3: The Life of Prayer
Article 1, Expressions of Prayer (cont’d)
III. Contemplative Prayer
§ 2709 What is contemplative prayer? St. Teresa answers: “Contemplative prayer [oración mental] in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us” (St. Teresa of Jesus, “The Book of Her Life”, 8, 5 in “The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila”, I, 67).
Contemplative prayer seeks Him “whom my soul loves” (Song of Songs 1:7; cf. 3:1-4). It is Jesus, and in Him, the Father. We seek Him, because to desire Him is always the beginning of love, and we seek Him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of Him and to live in Him. In this inner prayer, we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord Himself.
[Editorial note: the Biblical Book “Song of Songs” is also known as “Canticle of Canticles”.]
§ 2710 The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith.
§ 2711 Entering into contemplative prayer is like entering into the Eucharistic Liturgy: we “gather up” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the Presence of Him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to Him as an offering to be purified and transformed.
§ 2712 Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the Love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more (cf. Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10). But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with His Beloved Son.
§ 2713 Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gift, a grace; it can be accepted only in humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a covenant relationship established by God within our hearts (cf. Jeremiah 31:33). Contemplative prayer is a communion in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image of God, “to His likeness.”
Tomorrow – Contemplative Prayer (to be continued)
(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 1 – to be continued)
[Editor’s Note: The abbreviation in today’s posting is noted below.]
- “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”