Fr. Karl Rahner SJ, one of the very influential theologians of the 20th century, once wrote that ‘if the modern-day Christian did not become a contemplative, it would be very hard for them to remain Christian’.
What is a contemplative?
It is a person who tries to be really present to the reality around them as reality is. While connecting with the reality which we are able to observe we also get connected to the deeper reality guided by faith and under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We are guided to this deep reality by the influence of the Holy Spirit as we go more deeply in what Jesus revealed to us. Sometimes, some mistake our Christian faith with ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. If you observe these rules you will get to heaven!
Certainly He did not dismiss the commandments but talked about them as being signposts to loving rather than a set of rules. He spoke primarily about relationships.
Contemplation is about relationships. It is not about navel gazing. It is about being open to a healthy and real relationship with God, on God’s terms.
It is about believing that God communicates with humanity as God really is.
Contemplation is about being open to the mystery of God, and the mystery in everything.
It is not about some secret knowledge for a few elite or privileged people. That was the mistake of the ancient heresy of the ‘Gnostics’. They emphasized personal spiritual knowledge over other authentic Christian teaching, practices and proper church authority.
Christian contemplation is open and offered to all.
Various meditation practices, Ignation, Benedictine, Easter Church spirituality, and many others are all various forms of contemplation.
Basically, it is a practice that you find helpful to come close to God. We do this while remembering that it is primarily an action of the heart without excluding the head.
It is about prayer, but not just saying prayers. It is about letting God reveal Godself to me as I make time to be present to God.
It is about being aware in my daily activities that I am always in the presence of God wherever I am, whatever I am doing.
It is about not being imprisoned in small thinking, while being aware of the extraordinary in small things and in all things.
It is about not being a lone ranger, but being conscious that I am a member of the community of faith, a community called to carry on the mission of Christ, a community committed to contemplation and action in the service of God and of all people and things.
God Bless you today.
Bishop of Darwin