One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state.
The expression It’s good to see you! is a confirmation of our contemplative spirit. For “the human being has a basic craving to see. The human being’s make-up is such that he lives most purely as a see-er: in contemplation” (Josef Pieper). As St. Gregory the Great observes, “When one sees the person he loves, he is inflamed with a more ardent love.”
God wants that ardent love for us:
Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son (CCC 2712).
One of the greatest joys of friendship is just being in the friend’s presence, silent for a while, simply enjoying the company of another. This is a contemplative joy. St. Teresa of Avila says, “Contemplative prayer in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends.” It becomes the most profound consolation in both good times and bad. “In contemplation there is a mixture of joy and sadness: unspeakable joy in relishing the Presence of the divine host, sadness at not having complete possession of him” (A. Tanqueray).
The Catechism urges us:
One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: One makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith (2710).
Our faithfulness to contemplation is generously rewarded: “Contemplative persons, by striving for that which is above them, surpass what they are in themselves” (St. Gregory the Great). And St. Thomas Aquinas boosts our hope: Contemplation engaged in now “gives us a certain dawning happiness which begins here so as to be continued in the life to come.” The contemplative life we have begun is sure to be perfected in heaven “because the fire of love, which begins to burn here, is aflame with a yet greater love when we see Him whom we love” (St. Gregory the Great).
This is the third part of the reflection on Contemplative Prayer.