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About This Life
“About This Life”(Acts 5:20) #1
In the spiritual life everything is about relationship. Hence, authentic contemplation is always 'relational contemplation'. Contemplation is never meant to be about myself, but about the One whom I discover living within me: Jesus. It is he whom I gaze upon interiorly: “Jesus is the true Face of the Father” (God Day By Day, vol. 3, Paulist Press, 1989, p. 80).
“About This Life”(Acts 5:20) #2
Contemplative prayer is a relationship with God that penetrates the deep levels of my soul. It is a covenant relationship of love and communion. Only if I have overwhelming experiences of God's love will I make Him the vibrant center of my life. He must become the supreme, essential value for me. Only then will I organize my life around this central love. It's a choice of God alone and a love beyond all others.
"About This Life" (Acts 5:20) #3
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “prayer is the life of the new heart” (CCC # 2697). This new heart which is the Heart of Jesus alive within me is born in contemplative solitude with God. This is the new heart promised by God through the Prophet, Ezekiel: “I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you” (Ezekiel 36:26).
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #4
Contemplation is an invitation to surrender and become whom I look upon in prayer of the heart--whom I am meant to be, a new self waiting to be born and discovered in my deepest center; for, my true identity is found in my deepest center within me. This true self is like precious hidden treasure, awaiting discovery and development. It is God's most precious gift to me. My deepest, truest center within is relational. This deepest center is my identity in Jesus. I gradually become whom I contemplate.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #5
“Contemplative prayer is a communion of love” (CCC 2719), and it is key for a renewed humanity. As I am renewed through contemplation I am filled with more of the fullness of the divinity, the life of Jesus. Thus, I become a converted human being. I become fully human. In order to become fully human I must be recreated by the Spirit's transforming love and drawn into the Trinitarian life.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #6
In the silent love of contemplative prayer I hand myself over to Jesus “as an offering to be purified and transformed” (CCC 2711). Hence, in the ongoing, transformational, contemplative journey from “glory to glory” into the true humanity of Jesus (the image of Jesus' humanity), the Spirit will reveal to me my false self that militates against authentic communion with God and others. This deceitful, false self must be put to death within me.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #7
It has already been stated that contemplation is a “transformative gaze”: I become the one whom I behold in this gaze of silent love within my heart. This transformation involves a process of conversion into and discovery of my true self which is Jesus: “Him whom my heart loves” (Songs 3:2). Serious contemplation will always involve a process of dying to a false self and a rising into awareness of my true self.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) # 8
Saints are great lovers of God and humanity. This is why their intercession is so powerful. They love deeply in joyful and grateful faith. They also know themselves to be deeply sinful. Saints know that the inner battlefield of their hearts is the place where the fidelity of their commitment and devotion to God is tested daily. There can be no holiness without contemplation. Further, there can be no growth in authentic contemplation “without renunciation and spiritual battle” (Catholic Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2015). Saints are not afraid to wage war within themselves against sin and anything that hinders a deep union with God. Contemplative intercession today requires the work of saints: Those who love deeply, who know the inner battlefield of their hearts, and who know themselves, in truth, to be deeply sinful.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #9
The holy Spirit calls me to a conversion that is always the beginning of new life. His call is always to a greater love, life and faith. There is a whole new self waiting to gradually spring forth through “the grain of wheat” (see John 12:24) of my humanity. This new life, new creation, is always in Jesus--the risen Jesus, the resurrected Lamb, and it is always teeming with rich interior life. Yet, only when I have a profound encounter with God's love will I hear this call to radical change. Without my hearing the Spirit's call it will be impossible for me to grow into a mature faith and mature spiritual life. Only God can give me the grace to be more and more aware of the mystery of sinfulness in my heart. I need to pray actively for this grace.
“About This Life” (Acts 5:20) #10
I have been created by the God of Love, and re-created by the redemptive Love of Jesus. My heart has a deep desire to experience love and to become whom I behold in contemplative prayer. Yet, both my heart and mind need to be reformed if I am to be aware of and respond to the call of love more generously. The gift of a sensitized, interior awareness is a most essential gift of the holy Spirit desperately needed today. St. Paul speaks to the Corinthian community about this gift of awareness: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Cr. 13:5).
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