The sunrise, trees in spring, music, birdsong, a book ... This is the salt of life, says Pope Francis.
“To contemplate is not primarily a way of doing, but a way of being. To be contemplative,” Pope Francis explained May 5 as he continued his teaching series on prayer. And the contemplative dimension of human beings is the “salt of life” – “it seasons our day.”
We can contemplate by gazing at the sun that rises in the morning, or at the trees that deck themselves out in spring green; we can contemplate by listening to music or to the sounds of the birds, reading a book, gazing at a work of art or at that masterpiece that is the human face…
And being contemplatives does not depend on the eyes, but on the heart.
From here, we can consider contemplative prayer, which is prayer of the heart. “Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. ‘I look at him and he looks at me,'” the pope said, citing the Catechism.
The prayer of “loving contemplation,” the pope continued, “typical of the most intimate prayer, does not need many words. A gaze is enough. It is enough to be convinced that our life is surrounded by an immense and faithful love that nothing can ever separate us from.”
Learning from Jesus
Pope Francis reflected that Jesus “was a master of this gaze.”
His life never lacked the time, space, silence, the loving communion that allows one’s existence not to be devastated by the inevitable trials, but to maintain beauty intact. His secret is his relationship with his heavenly Father.
Serving the Church
This simple but deep prayer, this exchange of gazes, is in fact of great service to the Church, the pope said.
He noted how Saint John of the Cross believed that “a small act of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the other works combined.”
“What is born of prayer and not from the presumption of our ego, what is purified by humility, even if it is a hidden and silent act of love, is the greatest miracle that a Christian can perform,” the pope said.
And this is the path of contemplative prayer: I look at Him and He looks at me. It is that act of love in silent dialogue with Jesus that does so much good for the Church.