Contemplative Prayer

Mondays in Advent 2018: December 3, 10, and 17

Parish Chapel at St. Theresa Catholic Church

7:00-8:00 PM

 

The liturgical season of Advent (little lent) is a call to slow down and reflect on our lives - to prepare ourselves for a fresh reliving of the gift of the Incarnation. We invite you to "Come Away" for an hour each week during ADVENT and rest in God's love.

 

Contemplative Prayer is our Catholic tradition of praying from the deepest place in our heart where Christ lives. It is prayer without words, yet full of desire for more of God and less of us. It is a prayer of total surrender to our agendas and plans, and a deep listening to God, and to whom He desires us to become.

 

Each evening consists of two periods of Advent scripture reflections (Lectio Devina), each period followed by 20 minutes of silent prayer.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

The Catholic Tradition of Contemplative Prayer.

We may think of prayer as thoughts or feelings expressed in words. But this is only one expression. In the Christian tradition, contemplative prayer is considered to be a pure gift of God following the complete surrender of mind and heart--our whole being--to God, the ultimate mystery, beyond thoughts, words, and emotions. Through grace we open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing, closer than thought itself. Contemplative prayer is not meant to replace other kinds of prayer and devotions; rather it adds light and depth of meaning to them. It is both a relationship with God and a discipline to foster than relationship. It is a relational movement beyond conversation with Christ to communion with Him.

Theological Background

The source of contemplative prayer is the indwelling Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Its focus is the deepening of our relationship with the living Christ. It tends to build communities of faith and bond the members together in mutual friendship and love.

The Soul of Contemplative Prayer

Listening to the word of God in scripture (Lectio Divina) is a traditional way of cultivating friendship with Christ. It is a way of listening to the texts of scripture as if we were in conversation with Christ and he were suggesting the topics of conversation. The daily encounter with Christ and reflection on this word leads beyond mere acquaintanceship to an attitude of friendship, trust, and growing love. Conversation simplifies and gives way to communing. Gregory the Great (6th century) in summarizing the Christian contemplative tradition expressed it as "resting in God." This was the classical meaning of contemplative prayer in the Christian tradition for the first sixteen centuries.

Wisdom Saying of Jesus

Contemplative prayer is following the wisdom saying of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:

"But you, whenever you pray, go into your own room and shut the door: then pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father--He who sees in secret--will recompense you. And when praying, do not use needless repetitions as the Gentiles do, for they expect to be listened to because of their multitude of words. Do not, however, imitate them; for your Father knows what things you need before ever you ask Him." Mathew 6:6-8

It is also inspired by writings of major contributors to the Christian contemplative tradition, including John Cassian, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Francis de Sales, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of Lisieux, and Thomas Merton.

 

For more information see Catechism of the Catholic Church: Contemplative Prayer (2709-2724).

 

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