Contemplating God Who is always Contemplating Us
This week, Fr Josh, Fr Francis and I attended a retreat with a group of priests from around Queensland and one of the topics we explored was contemplation. This talk was led by Mother Hilda Scott, abbess of Benedictine Sisters at Jambaroo. Now, when I think of contemplation what often comes to mind is someone who is in a quiet place sitting very still with their eyes closed and their eyebrows furrowed, deep in concentration. However, quite the opposite is true.
Contemplation has 4 main points
1/ Contemplation is founded on love. Contemplation is part of our DNA, we don’t need a book to understand contemplation, it’s happening all the time and it’s not that difficult to understand. It’s a human phenomenon, often unconsciously discovered when we find ourselves part of something bigger than ourselves. Something changes in our soul on the day when it understands that it has been loved with a deep and personal love by Jesus. When was the day that you realised that God truly loved you? Contemplation has its roots founded in love, a love which stems from the love of Jesus. As with all things that we love, we will immerse ourselves with all the things we love, we will see that which we love, we will seek that which we love, we will be concerned about that which we love.
2/ Contemplation is borne of prayer. We often get the wrong idea of prayer. We think that prayer is when we are at Mass, or at adoration, or saying the rosary or when we are kneeling down and holding our hands in a prayer pose. Sure, these things are prayer, but prayer goes much deeper than that. If there are 1 million ways to say I love you, then why are we confined by only a few ways to contemplate and communicate with God? God is in constant communication with us. And God is in constant communication with all of creation – every blade of grass, every fish in the sea, every bird in the sky… the minute God is no longer in communication with creation it ceases to exist. Prayer doesn’t begin with us. Rather, prayer is something that is done through us. Prayer is God’s communication with us. When we are moved to pray and communicate with God, that’s when we really go ‘online’, and tap into God’s communication with us.
3/ Contemplation is exemplified through Jesus. It doesn’t matter how you pray, it only matters that you pray, and I suggest 30 minutes daily. With prayer, I guarantee that you will get through the day. “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them… Learn from the way the wildflowers grow. They do not work or spin.” (Mat 6:26-34). Notice how Jesus makes an immediate connection between his everyday interactions and his Father – the one he loves, the one he seeks, the one he sees in all things because he is so constantly contemplating God. Naturally that means even when he is betrayed, even in the Garden of Gethsemane, even on the Cross, Jesus is constantly in contemplation. God is speaking to us always, not just in the good times; and Jesus is our model for contemplation.
4/ God contemplates you. God is 100% of the time contemplating you. God has no other job. God doesn’t exist to stop the wars or fix the planet or cure cancer, that’s our job. God’s job is to love us. God is forever contemplating us, and every now and then, we tune in and contemplate God.
Contemplate well, Fr Gerard
*Paraphrased from a talk given by Mother Hilda Scott OSB