Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: Bl. Hadewych of Meer
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

This is the key to achieving peace through contemplation

JESUS AT THE HOME OF MARTHA AND MARY

Georg Friedrich Stettner | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 05/18/19

St. Mary of Bethany teaches us a sacred repose that should be our chief goal in prayer.

For many of us, contemplation remains a mysterious form of prayer. Countless saints have referred to it as the pinnacle of prayer, and it is often seen as the primary goal we should all strive to attain.


PRAYING,PRAYER,YOUNG MAN

Read more:
St. Francis de Sales: The primary difference between contemplation and meditation

One of the best descriptions of this type of prayer can be found in the gospels. Jesus comments on this when visiting his friends Martha and Mary (see Luke 10:38-42). While Martha is busy about many things, Mary sits attentively before Jesus, soaking in all that he has to say.

St. Francis de Sales, in his book Treatise on the Love of God, further illustrates this passage and explains how it serves as a key to our own experience of contemplation.

[Mary] is in a profound tranquility, she says not a word, she weeps not, she sobs not, she sighs not, she stirs not, she prays not. Martha, full of business passes and repasses through the hall: Mary notices her not. And what then is she doing? She is doing nothing, but only hearkening. And what does this mean—she hearkens? It means that she is there as a vessel of honor, to receive drop by drop the myrrh of sweetness which the lips of her well-beloved distilled into her heart; and this divine lover, jealous of this love-sleep and repose of this well-beloved, chided Martha for wanting to awaken her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary, Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. But what was Mary’s portion or part? To remain in peace, repose, and quiet, near unto her sweet Jesus.

De Sales describes a soul immersed in this form of peaceful contemplation. In a word, the soul does “nothing.” He even goes so far as to say the soul “prays not.” What he means is that the soul in contemplation is entirely disposed to be a receiver.

Often we go into prayer, emptying out entire life onto Jesus’ lap. In contemplation, it is the exact opposite. We instead remain “still” and “receive” everything from God.

St. John Vianney noticed one day a parishioner kneeling in church before the tabernacle. He asked the man what he was doing. The man responded, “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Sometimes, we don’t need to do anything in prayer, and just remain in silence and receive what God wants to give to us.


ST FRANCIS DE SALES

Read more:
Practical tips for Christian meditation, according to St. Francis de Sales


PRAY,BOOK

Read more:
7 Christian meditation aids for beginners

Tags:
PrayerSpiritual Life
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...



Top 10
1
JESUS
Fr Robert McTeigue, SJ
A simple test to see if you really believe Christ is risen
2
PRINCE PHILIP
Cerith Gardiner
11 Interesting facts about the late Prince Philip
3
SAINT FAUSTINA,CELL
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
St. Faustina’s coffee cup and lessons for Divine Mercy Sund...
4
LOREN SCHAUERS
Annalisa Teggi
Amputee from the waist down is thankful every day to be alive
5
DIVINE MERCY
Aleteia
Here’s how to celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday at home
6
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
St. Padre Pio: His life, his miracles and his legacy
7
HOLY SEPULCHRE CROSSES
Zelda Caldwell
Mystery of crosses on walls of Church of the Holy Sepulchre may h...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.