Contemplative Prayer

Of all forms of prayer, there is one that is particularly characterized by a deep meditative movement. Littré defines contemplation as “hightened meditations, which go so far as to break all communication of the mind and body with sensation.” Meditations: the word is set. Contemplating involves bringing your body, mind and soul into a form of meditation in order to get as close to God as possible. While it corresponds to the last phase of lectio divina, contemplation is also a form of prayer in its own right. The Catholic Church of France even says that "contemplation is necessary in the life of every Christian so that his action reflects his love of God". But what exactly is contemplation? And how to do it?

Instructions for Contemplation

Focusing on God's Presence

Like Mary, let us sit at the feet of Christ and try not to be overwhelmed by agitation like Martha. “Mary chose the best part”: we too, when we decide to contemplate God, choose the best part. Let's make sure, then, to enjoy it. And, beyond the physical agitation, it is here that we must get rid of the agitation of the mind.

As in any meditative prayer, it is appropriate to begin your time of contemplation by being silent in yourself. Like a rough sea, let our inner worlds return to calm. Let our inner Martha sit next to Mary to contemplate Jesus in silence. The impurities of the sea settle to the bottom to leave clear and transparent water, as our mind becomes open to feel the presence of God in us. For this, let us return to focusing our attention on ourselves, since that is where God is.

Leaning on God’s Word

"I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory." (Psalms 62:3). When we enter into contemplation, we can ask the Lord for the grace to see His strength and His glory.

God revealed himself to us through his Son Jesus Christ. To contemplate God, what better support is there than the Bible? When we sit to contemplate God, we can rely on the Scriptures. Let us contemplate His glory through the Gospels, read and repeat his words, and admire His gestures. Finally, let us focus all our attention on Jesus and His various manifestations: his words, His actions, His teachings, but also His real presence in the Eucharist.

Contemplate with Love

Our thoughts will inevitably wander. We must refocus all our attention, continuously, on God, and to remove any thought that is not related to God. Contemplation is not so much an exercise in concentration as an exercise in love. If our whole being turns to the love of Jesus for us, offering Him all the love we have for Him, then our ideas deviate less, and our contemplation bears fruit.

To contemplate and to be contemplated

Let us not forget, in our moments of contemplation, that we are not alone. We are never alone. If we decide to contemplate God, let us remember that He is there, waiting for us, long before we come to Him. It is there and contemplates us, looks at us with love. Remembering this enriches our own contemplation.

Contemplation according to the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

To immerse oneself in the Scriptures with one's senses

Saint Ignatius of Loyola proposes, in his spiritual exercises, a way to contemplate God from the Scriptures. After reading a passage of the Bible, immerse yourself in it in your imagination. Sense every aspect of the passage. Sight, of course: we visualize the passage as if we were watching a film. But also hearing: what are the characters saying to each other, what are the surrounding noises. Touch: what physical sensations, is it hot, cold, is there wind that touches the skin, sand that creeps into the sandals, etc. Smell and taste: what do you smell in the ambient air?

Reread your life

After spending a moment immersed in a scene in the life of Jesus, after closely observing everything that happens and the way Jesus behaves, we can try a rereading of our daily life, or a particular episode of our life. Do we behave as Jesus would have? Are we in the image of Christ as much as possible? This review allows us to highlight our weaknesses and our wanderings, and encourages us to become aware of the progress we have to make. Afterwards, we get up, ready to act in the best way in the image of Jesus.

Contemplate on a daily basis

In everyday life, it is enough to open your eyes to contemplate the glory of God. What better manifestation of God than his creation? Also, let us contemplate God when we look at our neighbors: God lives in them as He lives in each of us; looking at others, we see God.

Let's widen our horizons and observe—depending on where we live—the trees, the rivers, the fruits and vegetables, the mountains, the sea or the countryside, observe the flowers and the fields, the sky and the stars, the sun and the moon, the rain, the rainbows and other clouds. All this is a significant manifestation of God in our lives: let us be well aware of it when we look around us: God manifests himself everywhere around us, and gives himself to us in all his splendor. Let us know how to see him and contemplate what he offers us.

Contemplate with Hozana

Thanks to the communities on Hozana, deepen your knowledge of Jesus, or ask Mary for her help to bring you closer to Jesus. You can also meditate on His Word to remain in the presence of Jesus. Find a community that suits you best on Hozana!