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Is contemplation for everyone?

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This type of prayer can seem overly lofty to attain, but in reality is much easier than most types of prayer.

When learning about different types of prayer, the word “contemplation” often brings up images of holy monks and nuns praying for hours in silence. With this point of view, contemplation can hardly seem possible for a lay person to practice and is only reserved for the holiest people in the universe.

However, contemplation is in reality quite easy and you are likely already engaged in this form of prayer.

Contemplation is (in the words of St. Teresa of Avila) “nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reiterates this theme when it summarizes this type of prayer.

Contemplative prayer is the simple expression of the mystery of prayer. It is a gaze of faith fixed on Jesus, an attentiveness to the Word of God, a silent love. It achieves real union with the prayer of Christ to the extent that it makes us share in his mystery. (CCC 2724)

Contemplation is probably best summarized by the phrase, “I look at him and he looks at me,” a description of prayer that “a certain peasant of Ars … used to say while praying before the tabernacle” (CCC 2715).

St. Francis de Sales described contemplation as “loving attention” and encourages everyone to engage in it.

Contemplative prayer is accessible to everyone because it simply entails a “loving attention” to God, allowing the warmth of his love to wash over you. You don’t even have to do or say anything during contemplative prayer.

Stop everything, sit down and let God love you.

That is true contemplation, a profoundly simple way of praying to God.

 

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