The contemplative lifestyle

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

EVERYONE should learn to be contemplative. We are actually meant for it. Equipped and wired for it, we reach our ideal situation when we manage to become contemplatives even in the middle of the world. We have to start with ourselves before we can dare to teach the others, especially the young ones, how to be so.

To be a contemplative is to see Christ in everyone and in everything. It is to see God in every situation, in every circumstance, convinced that God is everywhere, and his presence is not just passive but is rather full of love and solicitude.

Remember Christ saying, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mt 28,20) He did not say he will be with us in such and such a situation, or in such and such a person or thing. He just said, “I am with you always…”

Besides, God as the Creator can never be absent from his creatures, because the creatures’ existence completely depends on the Creator who precisely gives and keeps the existence of his creatures. Without him, the creature reverts to nothing.

Now, in our case, as man endowed with intelligence and will, that is, enabled to know and to love, we are meant at least to be aware of God and to try our best to correspond to his will and ways. God as Creator continues to shape us in our whole life until our creation is completed.

The completion of our creation is when we are finally formed according to God’s image and likeness, which is how God wants us to be. “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1,27)

And that means, until we become “alter Christus,” another Christ, who as the Son of God is God’s perfect image of himself and thus, the pattern of our humanity, and who as God who became man, is the redeemer of our humanity that is damaged by our sin.

That is why St. Paul said: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1,6)

As a corollary to this truth of faith is that God or Christ is always with us. There is no time, no situation, no circumstance, no matter how considered it is in human terms, where God or Christ is not there.

When we are in the heights of our successes and accomplishments, or in the depths of our defeats and all forms of human misery, God is there. We need to learn to correspond to that reality because that is the most important and indispensable part of our life, of our world, of our reality.

That God became man means that God adapts himself to our condition, whatever it is. He has even made himself like sin without committing sin, as St. Paul said, so that we can become the very righteousness of God! (cfr 2 Cor 5,21)

Let’s hope that we can warm ourselves up to this truth of our faith, and start behaving according to it. We should not worry too much about the initial awkwardness, because if we know the full character of what it is to be contemplative, we would realize that we can be so whether we are in the church or in the farm or in our bedroom, or whether we are doing some intellectual or manual work, etc.

Christ adapts himself completely to us even in our worst situation when we would be in a state of grave sin! God will always love us. He will never reject us. It is us who are capable of rejecting him.

To be a real contemplative is to give our heart to him.