Contemplative Disciplines/Holy Habits

Contemplative Practices

BLOG #18 March 2, 2021

Over the past 17 BLOG posts, going back to November of 2020, we introduced Simplicity, Solitude, Silence, Stillness and Spaciousness as five Christian contemplative postures, or ways of being, that bring us to a deeper way of being in Christ Jesus. These are liminal ways of being through which God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) draws us to true infused contemplation. Thus, each of these are important aspects of our journey of awakening to union with God. Having spent some time introducing these five contemplative postures we are presented with the inevitable questions that ask “how?” How do we become more open to these holy ways of being? How do we cooperate with God’s grace as we journey together to enlightenment of heart that eds to a pure heart where see God (Matthew 5:8) and recognize the uniting of all things in Christ Jesus? (Eph. 1:7,17-18). As we ponder these questions and delve more deeply into our lives in Christ Jesus, we quickly realize that we cannot achieve contemplation by our own strength or will. There is no practice, or series of practices, that we can implement, regardless of much time we give, or how adept we may become in a particular spiritual discipline, that will produce the way of contemplation for which we hunger. Furthermore, contemplation will never be understood intellectually but can be known in a love relationship with God, as the image of God is awakened to union with God. Thomas Merton writes.

“The union of the simple light of God with the simple light of the human spirit, in love, is contemplation.” Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, p. 292

In short, contemplation is a love relationship with God, made possible by God’s grace. Ture contemplation flows from the liminal spaces of the five contemplative postures which we have, and will continue to, discuss in detail. As this occurs, we discover that we are journeying in a way of purgation, illumination, and union as we are graced to become more open, undefensive and in the moment to God’s presence. Here we discover the truth that even faith is a gift from God that we cannot earn or improve upon. All we can do is cooperate and by the grace of faith and be drawn by God to God in the mystery of God by God’s grace of faith. Again, Merton helps us.

“True contemplation is the work of a love that transcends all satisfaction and all experience to rest in the night of pure and naked faith. This faith brings us so close to God that it may be said to touch and grasp Him as He is, though in darkness.”

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation”

We discover that contemplation is an inward journey to the center of our being, where God resides, in which all things come together and are thus seen through an unselfish pure heart, which has cultivated compassion and love toward all others. This is life in Christ Jesus, filled by the Holy Spirit, and the kingdom of God (See Luke 17:21). This is union within and without as a holy movement that includes and transcends everything, and everyone. Every experience and every thought. Every image and every concept. This is practicing the presence of God, here and now. A contemplative approach to life attempts to live with an awareness that every moment is pregnant with God’s divine Presence.

So how? There are good time proven practices that can help us along the way as we navigate the dynamic postures of the 5 S’s and the mystical journey of awakening awareness, purgation, illumination, and union. Historically these have been referred to as Spiritual Disciplines, which when mature become Holy Habits. These are practices that become part of who we are as they bring us to new depths in which we become open and surrendered to God’s holy draw into contemplation and simply being in Christ Jesus, in God. Over the coming weeks we will explore many of these practices, such as Christian mediation, Centering Prayer, Lectio Divina, Prayer of Quiet, The Jesus Prayer and more. As we move forward, we will consider which practices may be best for us as individuals and explore how they may best be done well in our lives.

God bless you all.

Gene Yotka

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