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Do you want delight and wonder in prayer? Try this

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Jeffrey Bruno

Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP - published on 08/13/23

Even amidst our excessively hectic and distracted lives, we are called to this prayer. And God won't refuse it to those who ask.

Even the non-Christian Aristotle claims that “the contemplative life is superior to life on a human level.” And it is meant for all: “The contemplative life is proper to us in so far as there is something of the divine in us.”

Can we not, then, cultivate some degree of contemplation even amidst our excessively hectic and distracted lives? The Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper wrote that “the greatest menace to our capacity for contemplation is the incessant fabrication of tawdry empty stimuli which kill the receptivity of the soul.”

But God in his goodness would never hold back from one who asks for such a gift.

Contemplative prayer 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 (CCC 2713).

Contemplation is an encounter with God accompanied by delight, admiration, and wonder. It is an experiential knowledge of God. The Sulpician spiritual master Fr. Adolphe Tanquerey, in his classic work The Spiritual Life, explains how God, in the gift of contemplation, produces in the center of the soul both knowledge and love. God brings this about 

by attracting our attention to an idea already possessed, but which up to now had not impressed us deeply. Thus we knew that God is love, but now divine light makes us understand and relish this thought so well that it penetrates our whole being and takes complete possession of us.

The “ineffable love” that comes with contemplation enables the soul to understand “by a sort of intuition that God and God alone is the Supreme Good, and thus he attracts the soul to himself in an irresistible way, like a magnet does, yet without doing violence to its free will.”

Let us prepare for this great gift by doing what the Lord commands us through the Psalmist: “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10). St. Gregory the Great assures us that “the contemplative life is an exceedingly lovable sweetness which carries the soul above itself, reveals heavenly things, and manifests spiritual realities to the mind’s eye.” And it is meant for you.

~

Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.

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