Daily Series on the Catechism


Section One:  Prayer in the Christian Life

Chapter 3:  The Life of Prayer

Article 1,  Expressions of Prayer

III.  Contemplative Prayer (cont’d)

§ 2714  Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently intense time of prayer. In it, the Father strengthens our inner being with power through His Spirit “that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith” and we may be “grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:16-17).

§ 2715  Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at Him and He looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé [pastor] used to say while praying before the Tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of His Truth and His compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the Mysteries of the Life of Christ. Thus, it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love Him and follow Him (cf. SE 104).

§ 2716  Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid.

§ 2717  Contemplative prayer is silence, the “symbol of the world to come” (cf. TM 66) or “silent love” (St. John of the Cross, “Maxims and Counsels”, 53 in “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross”, 678). Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the “outer” man, the Father speaks to us His Incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence, the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

§ 2718  Contemplative prayer is a union with the prayer of Christ, insofar as it makes us participate in His Mystery. The Mystery of Christ is celebrated by the Church in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit makes it come alive in contemplative prayer so that our charity will manifest it in our acts.

§ 2719  Contemplative prayer is a communion of love bearing Life for the multitude, to the extent that it consents to abide in the night of faith. The Paschal night of the Resurrection passes through the night of the agony and the tomb – the three intense moments of the Hour of Jesus which his Spirit (and not “the flesh [which] is weak”) brings to life in prayer. We must be willing to “keep watch with [him] one hour” (cf. Matthew 26:40).

Tomorrow – In Brief & Article 2, The Battle of Prayer

(Part IV, Section 1, Chapter 3, Article 1 – to be continued)

[Editor’s Note:  The abbreviations in today’s posting are noted below.]

  • “cf.” – “confer [compare or refer to]”
  • “SE” – St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Exercitia Spiritualia [Spiritual Exercises]”
  • “TM” – St. Isaac of Nineveh, “Tractatus Mystici [Mystical Treaty]”
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A Sunday Blessing

May the Lord bless you and keep you!

May the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you!

May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! †

(cf. Numbers 6:24-26)

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