The quest to become contemplative

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THIS is what we should aspire for. This is what we are meant to be. Unless we become contemplative souls, there’s no way we can be with God who is everything to us. Without him, we can only be at best a joke, no matter how impressive our life and work can seem according to human and worldly standards.

We need to see to it that we should always feel the urge to pray, to engage with God, to be with him. If we do not feel that urge yet, let’s convince ourselves that we have something most important to work on. Thus, like the disciples of Christ, impressed by how Christ was to them, we should beg him to teach us how to pray. (cfr. Lk 11,1-4)

The Lord’s Prayer is the model prayer that we should learn by heart. We have to learn to discern the spirit behind its every expression and petition, since as the Compendium of the Catechism teaches us, this prayer is the “summary of the whole Gospel,” “the perfect prayer” that presents in the form of prayer the essential content of the Gospel. (579)

In the Church, this prayer is considered as the prayer “par excellence” that is handed on in Baptism to signify the new birth of the children of God into the divine life. (cfr. Compendium 581)

We have to understand that prayer is what keeps our love burning. That’s because it what keeps us always in contact with God who is the very essence of love. Prayer, therefore, should not be understood merely as some spiritual exercise that we have to learn to do at certain moments of the day only.

It has to be our very life itself. Everything in our life should be an act of prayer, including our sleeping. Our very consciousness, our breathing and heartbeat should be converted into prayer. This is what to be a contemplative spirit is.

We have to realize that contemplative life is a great need for us since it represents the full maturity of our consciousness. And as our radical connection with the very foundation of reality who is God, contemplative life is indispensable to us.

Obviously, we need some training for this. But it should be a training that would enable us precisely to convert everything into prayer. Even when we work, whether of the white-collar or blue-collar type of work, whether intellectual or manual, etc., we should be praying. That is to say, we should maintain our contact with God and channel what he has, his will and his ways, in all our daily affairs.

In that way we can reflect God’s love in all the situations, circumstances, predicaments, challenges in our life, etc. This love, of course, is concretely shown to us by Christ whose life and teaching we should truly learn and assimilate. Not only is Christ showing or teaching it to us. He is giving it to us by giving his own self, especially in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, if we also understand well the significance of the sacrament.

We need to discipline ourselves so as to make us always feel the need to echo the disciples’ request to Christ, “teach us to pray.” We have to be wary of our tendency to feel that with our human powers alone, we are already ok. We are not! Let’s not be deceived.