In this Season of Lent, and especially in its culminating Holy Week, we are called to spend extra time contemplating on our Lord. But this can be quite a challenge for us, because our thoughts and our actions no longer spring from contemplation or reflection. We are so trapped in the “urgent”, caught in the mad rush to accomplish things “a.s.a.p.” that the hours and the days seem to disappear like meaningless vapor. We can’t seem to step away from this feverish rush, to the point that decisions are made that turn out to be hurtful, instead of helpful, toward the people we aim to care for. To contemplate or to reflect is becoming a lost practice in our present lifestyle.
We are told that in the early centuries of Christianity contemplation was a way of life among the believers, to whom its meaning was clear and specific. In the 6th century, St. Gregory the Great summed up its meaning as “the knowledge of God that is impregnated with love”. He believed it is the fruit of reflecting on the Word of God and resting in Him. This “resting” is equated with experiencing God, because the believer’s heart and mind has found Him, and are therefore open to His presence and action. This “resting” can happen at all times, and in all places. According to St. Francis de Sales: “Neither repast, nor company, nor change, nor occupation can hinder it, as neither does it hinder or interfere with any action. On the contrary, it is a salt which seasons every kind of meat, or a sugar which spoils no sauce.”
St. John of the Cross tells us that “contemplation is nothing else than a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God, which, if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of Love.”
And once a soul is on fire with the Spirit of Love, there is no force on earth that can stop it. Its life is full of meaning and purposeful action with clarity of vision that is undistorted by fear. Jesus displayed the fruit of contemplation in His life when He could not be stopped from going to Jerusalem to undergo His betrayal, passion and death on the cross. Why? For love of you, me and all mankind.