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Contemplation and Meditation… What is the difference?

Q. Dear Father John, How is contemplation different than meditation?
catholic-prayerA. Contemplative prayer consists of a more passive (and more sublime) experience of God. If Christian meditation is the soul’s inspired quest to discover God (our work of seeking God), contemplation is God’s lifting of the soul into himself (God’s work of embrace), so that it effortlessly basks in the divine light. The key distinction here is that contemplation, in the strict sense, is purely the work of God. Meditation, though aided by God and predicated upon the grace and work of Christ, is the result of our seeking him. That basic distinction is often blurred, causing confusion, because both contemplative and meditative prayer have multiple forms. Therefore, it may be worthwhile to clarify further.

In general, meditative prayer can be mostly discursive or mostly affective. A discursive meditation follows a more logical development, analyzing a truth of the faith or a scripture passage in order to discover an insight or deepen one’s Christian understanding. That discovery or deepening leads the soul out of analysis and reflection and into conversation with God – acts of thanksgiving, praise, contrition, or petition. An affective meditation puts less emphasis on analysis or reflection, and more emphasis on the conversation, the acts of thanksgiving and praise that flow from the soul’s spiritual (not necessarily emotional) affections. Sometimes a mere glance at a biblical phrase can stir up a strong affection in the soul, and that is enough for the soul to enter into conversation with God; this is a (mostly) affective meditation. Other times, a long period of reflection, of analytical searching, finally yields an affection that leads to conversation; this is a mostly discursive meditation.

In certain seasons of the spiritual life, and often as the soul increases in spiritual maturity, meditation naturally becomes more affective. When a soul finds itself regularly and easily entering into contact with God, with hardly any discursive effort, this is often called the “prayer of quiet” or the “prayer of simplicity.” The soul finds itself easily gazing silently at the grandeur of God. Because so little effort is required in this kind of almost exclusively affective meditation, it is often called contemplative prayer. This is a common and valid use of the term. But it can cause confusion, because in a strict sense, and in the writings of mystics and theologians, contemplative prayer (“infused contemplation” is the technical term) goes even beyond this adoring gaze. We can gaze at the ocean and experience a deep sense of wonder, but it is another thing altogether to be submerged in the water. Infused contemplation is when God submerges us in himself; we no long gaze at God from without, but experience an ineffable union with him. Think of the piece of iron that is thrust into the fire and takes on the qualities of the fire.

And so, the most active type of mental prayer (as opposed to vocal prayer) is discursive meditation, which dovetails with affective meditation, which in turn culminates in the prayer of quiet, in which the soul enters effortlessly into extended acts of thanksgiving, praise, contrition, or petition. This is so effortless that it is akin to and often called contemplation. Infused contemplation, however, actually goes to a new level, lifting the soul out of itself and into the divine.

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About Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Fr. John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D, received his BA in History from Stanford University in 1990. He comes from an evangelical Christian background and became a member of the Catholic Church in 1991. After college he worked as a high school history teacher, drama director, and baseball coach. He then spent a year as a professional actor in Chicago before entering the religious Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ in 1993. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 2003 and earned his doctorate in moral theology in 2010. He provided spiritual support on the set of Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" while researching the 2005 Catholic best seller "Inside the Passion"--the only authorized, behind-the-scene explanation of the film. Fr. John has contributed news commentary regarding religious issues on NBC, CNN, Fox, and the BBC. He also served as the English-language press liaison for the Vatican’s 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. His most widely known book is called: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer". He has also published two other titles: "Meditations for Mothers" and "A Guide to Christian Meditation". Fr. John currently splits his time between Rome and Rhode Island, where he teaches theology as an adjunct professor at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum and at Mater Ecclesia College. He is also continuing his writing apostolate with online retreats at www.RCSpirituality.org and questions and answers on the spiritual life at www.RCSpiritualDirection.com. FATHER JOHN'S BOOKS include: "The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer", Inside the Passion--The Only Authorized Insiders View of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, Meditations for Mothers, and A Guide to Christian Meditation.

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  • faithful123

    LET ME SEE IF I HAVE THIS CORRECT, in my own words:

    Contemplation; strictly God reaching out to us. We listen to soothing music and feel peaceful, we see loved one’s after a long absence and feel happy.
    The peace the happiness is God.

    Meditative is generally speaking – that which we do after receiving Christ in
    the Eucharist; we take the truth of Christ’s words to action and ask Him
    to enter within us. We give him our faults and failings and weakness and
    Go forth to love and serve The Lord. While not always aware, in the daily
    week of work… we see Him acting ‘in us’ rather than us acting in the fault.
    This is the affect of our prayer to Him after receiving Him (yes?) Thus
    our happiness, peace is brought about not by specific circumstances
    that benefit us directly but simply the knowledge of KNOWING God.
    (yes?)

    If we live His life habitually, we become that which we imitate until,
    Nothing of external circumstances disturbs that inner peace. We are
    fully in truth. This process takes a lifetime… AND we can slip back
    to ‘ourselves’ if placed where temptation is great. Thus we pray
    VOCALLY… lead us not into such temptation.

    YES? No?  let me know

    • Anonymous

      Faithful,

      I believe we are talking about specific forms of prayer here.  As when we meditate on the mysteries of the rosary while fingering the beads and saying the prayers……we use our imaginations to think and reflect on the specific events…..like the Annunciation, the Visitation, etc……… some souls are very blessed in that they can see specific details in these events as the Holy Spirit allows.

      My take….your example of calm and peace with music is likely a physiological response….simply relaxing.  The happiness of seeing a loved one after being separated for some time……it’s certainly love we feel in our hearts…….which must be of God……(because God is love), yet the peace and happiness can also simply mean there is an absence of conflict, which is very different from the Peace of Christ.

      What we’re discussing here is intentional prayer………..as in adoration, prayerful reading of the scriptures, lectio divina, litanies, chaplets, the rosary, and other forms of prayer where we set aside time to be alone with God in quiet and as much solitude as we can find.

      • faithful123

        Thank you Becky for clarifying that… what you say makes sense.

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  • Anonymous

    I think it was St. Francis De Sales (But I could be wrong) who described these terms using an analogy of a forest.

    Meditation is described as focusing on and thinking about about specific trees in the forest………and contemplation as thinking about the beauty of forest as a whole.

  • faithful123

    Better understanding of contemplative prayer…we are given good all around us, and we have to begin to appreciate and ‘contemplate’ from where if all flows…
    friends, family, ability to become educated, job opportunity, health, speech, free nation…nothing we can ‘give’ to ourselves (not even the school or job thing)
    ability to educate comes from intellect to understand and job opportunity comes from being able to seek our heart’s desire…and being led to the opportunity…but we can’t give ourselves intellect or a desire in the heart…

    This is, correct me if wrong ‘unmerited’ grace.  Nothing we earned of our own
    making. Sitting in contemplative prayer over these things God lifts our souls
    to ‘grasp’ an understanding of GOD.  is the unmerited grace of God –
    Sanctified Grace? that which comes because of our baptism and back to
    being children of God?

    And from that understanding the good is not anything of my own making,
    the soul will go into the meditative prayer… reflecting on one’s own actions
    vs the actions that are God…and by the power of the Holy Spirit; those
    reflections will bring one to ACT on HIS WORD…thus bringing us ACTUAL GRACE by FAITH.  (If all I write is what is meant in article, or close to it, is it possible to be contemplative yet not have a strong faith? to know there’s a source of good called by name GOD but not fully accept God as God? or
    am I getting it confused?)

    • Anonymous

      I don’t think we can experience contemplation without having strong faith, unless God chooses – which He can – to bestow this gift…..which would be very rare.

      When we meditate we are trying to leave ‘the world’ and all our ‘stuff’ behind for a while and focus on Jesus.

      What scripture verses do you remember the best?  There’s a reason they ‘speak to you’…….God is telling you something through them.

      It would be good to find those passages in the bible and use them for meditation…….(what are you saying to me through this Lord?)…..it is almost essential to have a special place designated for prayer if we want to grow………..even if it’s a screened off section of a room with a candle and - I always have a crucifix near me – and/or a picture that inspires us to think of things of heaven.

      This is something we must DO in order to understand!!  Just as we can hear other women talking about what it’s like to be pregnant, feel a baby move within us, and give birth……..but can’t truly understand until we experience it……..so too must we learn about the interior life from our own experiences……….no two souls are alike……….our experiences will be different…….(while similar in many respects)…….but Jesus is the way, the only way……..we must spend time alone with Him in order to know Him.

      We also need to read the lives of the saints!!  THEY provide the example we need……….their experience is the only ‘map’ we have besides scripture and the teaching of the Church.  Learning about them shows us what we must do, this is a great way to learn how to deal with difficult situations in our lives………charity and humility are timeless.

      Faithful……I strongly encourage you to look for someone who can help you with this in person. 

      Peace……………..

      • faithful123

        Agree Becky: so too must we learn about the interior life from our own experiences.what I tried to say: comtemplation of the good that surrounds us; draws a soul ‘up’ from the earthly ways and dis-order to THE WAY… your analogy of the forest as a whole helped a lot. THE WHOLE GOODof our life … not anything we could provide of our own power. Impossible!If we can’t ‘make’ an employer hire us (who also has free will) if we can’t’just’ understand all the intricacies of living and having …by reading (education) than there’s a power that provides our understanding andour knowing what to do…. and yes; our meditation (after reception of Him in the Eucharist) is when we leave our ‘stuff’ and ‘the world values’ and focus on Who wants tofully enter into us. We leave all that ‘head stuff’ and SAY COME ON IN.  I believe you are right – all this contemplation awareness of God andmeditative inviting HIM in..can’t happen without a mustardseed of faith. Strong faith? mmmm I don’t think any of us start out with a strong faith… being weakened by concupiscence – but all He needssee is ‘a little’ faith.. IN HIM… for Him to show us THE WAY… THE FAITH in GOD grows stronger with every consolation for going His way.  Fear not, I am with you always… NO MATTER the world that rants, raves, curses and frets … He has overcome’the world’

        • Anonymous

          I was replying to your question:

          “If all I write is what is meant in article, or close to it, is it possible to be contemplative yet not have a strong faith?” (I don’t understand what you mean in the first part of this question…: “If all I write is what is meant in article…”?)

          But the answer to the second part is; No, except in rare circumstances.

          The ‘lifting up’ of the soul, from the earthy things you mentioned, is prayer; but this is ‘our contemplation’, or thinking…..reflection, pondering, mulling it over……….this is NOT the same as the gift of contemplation given by God that is being discussed here.

          Contemplation, as spoken of in the spiritual realm is so far beyond our ability to understand and/or comprehend that the spiritual masters – those who have been there - can only use analogies in an attempt to explain that which cannot be explained.

          Too often words have one meaning in every day life, and an altogether different meaning in the spiritual life.

          Yet another reason to find a reliable guide to help us along this path; we can’t find our way when we don’t really know where we are going. 

          I leave you with words of Jesus himself: 

          Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.  And those who find it are few.  (Matthew 7:13-14, NAB)

        • Anonymous

          One additional thought here:  your comment, “so too must we learn about the interior life from our own experiences.” is true……in part!

          We must always remember that the devil has vast influence in the realm of sense……and suggestion……….we can too easily be deceived and led to believe that ‘we know better’…..or that others don’t understand because they haven’t had the same experiences.

          Yet God does not leave us alone – there are many signs and indications that we can learn….but we must first acknowledge the need for assistance, and then be willing, and patient, in doing the study and work necessary to learn this.

          We learn from our own experiences……examined and held to the light of Christ……looked at through the lens of the teaching of the Church….we keep what is good and in conformity……and reject all that is contrary, which can be very subtle and difficult to detect.

          • faithful123

            We keep what is good and in conformity; reject all that is contrary, which can be subtle and difficult to detect; says Becky.

            This is why FAITH is a ‘growing experience’ – and another good reason why a child is still a child – even with the initiating sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist and why the western church holds off confirming the faith til age 12 or 13. It is then that one is entering the age of mature reasoning. Age of reason might be at 7; but maturity to know how to discern and accept some things and reject other notions at 7? Not likely. The child
            is a child and is ‘easily’ led. There is little ‘interior life’ in a 7 year old.

            Some take longer some less to grow that closeness with the Lord.
            God is abundantly patient if we at least are ‘trying.’ His grace is
            sufficient to grow.

            Do the study and work necessary to learn. Are you speaking of learning ANYTHING which helps us ‘make it’ thru life OR are you speaking learning the spiritual learning of life? or both?

          • Anonymous

            I’m speaking of the spiritual or interior life.  It takes time and patience, not to mention a lot of grace, and study of the teachings of the church and the lives of the saints in order to discern the presence or influence of evil spirits vs. those of the good spirit……..and to develop a sense or feel for the Truth.

            Regarding confirmation.  Please get a copy of the book, “Called to Knighthood” and read it with an open mind; it’s a quick read with precise information.

            Confirmation has been misunderstood for a long time.  It is NOT about anything that the confirmand does, but rather what the Holy Spirit does.  We are to be baptized with water (baptism) and spirit (confirmation).  We need both in order for God to work fully in our souls.

            We aren’t catechized well enough in regard to the forces of evil in the world………if we don’t understand the incredible attack we are up against……then most of what I am saying may not make much sense.  The devil is very real and he wants to keep us from reaching heaven.

            I am seeking Truth, and the truth in this regard is that the three sacraments of initiation are baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist.  Baptism make us members of God’s family.  Confirmation provides additional strength, guidance and protection (against the forces of evil) to help us be strong in our faith.  Eucharist is the eternal food for our souls, which, in conjunction with the other two…….strengthens us and enables us to be strong and to recognize and overcome the enemy on a day-to-day basis.

            Our bishops do have the authority to decide that confirmation happens at a later time – and we adhere to their decision as legitimate authority - yet they are human and make mistakes too.  The large number of unconfirmed Catholic adults testifies to the fact that what we are doing isn’t working!  And, as this is not a matter of faith or morals, it is wise to take another look at the way we approach this.

            Let me ask you a question.  Why are souls in one diocese able to receive the sacrament of confirmation at an early age, while those in another diocese must wait?  It’s not the souls that make the distinction……but the rules and thoughts of men……..worldly perspective, not of God.

            Since it is God who does the work, not us, why do we delay giving our children the spiritual armor and weapons they so badly need until they are almost half dead?  We make their journey to sanctification more difficult, and in a way, tie one of God’s hands behind His back…………..

            You state: “There is little ‘interior life’ in a 7 year old” 

            I say….gently,………you just don’t see it!
             
            Why does Jesus say, “Let the children come to me”????  They are SO OPEN to God when they are little….(as you say, easily led)…..and confirming them at this time in their lives can do nothing but increase and strengthen their faith….they don’t have to understand it…….just as we don’t have to understand transubstantiation………(and can’t understand it)…..but we accept it as Truth because Jesus said so.

          • faithful123

            nicely thought out…however; respectfully I think we are both seeing it from
            different views. This week (just before Pentecost) my parish had a Novena to the Holy Spirit…each night took on a different gift of the spirit. The night the gift of wisdom was spoke of, the pastor said: be assured when we receive baptism…the Holy Spirit comes upon us at that time. (all the strength of the Holy Spirit comes upon the baptized;yes indeed to be baptized with water – the SPIRIT does also come upon the new infant. It’s a ‘one two’ ‘punch’… Cleansed and the SPIRIT descends upon God’s
            beloved child.

            The pastor went on…all the gifts are there…but it’s WISDOM that allows one to know those gifts and put them to use. A seven year old is not
            ‘wise’ (discerning) A seven year old hasn’t the ability to initiate the gift
            of counsel; knowing the right thing to do …. seemingly intuitively.
            how many pious 7 year olds do you know? Knowledge and Understanding of the faith? at seven?

            To be confirmed in the faith is for the receiver to CONFIRM acceptance
            of the FAITH IN GOD…and bring it forth to the community of faithful in
            an adult fashion. (in respect to age…as the growth continues even
            past seventh or eighth grade)

            The Holy Spirit comes upon all who are baptized…IT’S PART AND
            PARCEL of being baptized. But that is not two sacraments. The
            Sacrament of Baptism and Eucharist is THE PRESENCE in that
            child…so he or she CAN LEARN OF THE FAITH… if open to learn
            what the Spirit wants to teach…Some aren’t ready for confirming
            of the faith in adolescence…but the BISHOP accepts in FAITH
            OF GOD…that GOD will make HIS SPIRIT GIFTs KNOWN TO THOSE
            WHO SEEK HIM…

            Confirmation is not a ‘strengthening of faith’ … no one can ‘acquire’
            FAITH…it’s PURE GIFT of GOD … by GRACE in doing things in
            accord HIS WORD… Baptism and Holy Eucharist STRENGTHENS
            one in LIVING THE LIFE OF CHRIST…  in the world…

            Confirmation is accepting with an adult commitment THE GIFTS
            that were part of the soul … since baptism.

          • Anonymous

            I pray the Holy Spirit Novena every year.  :)

            At the beginning of my conversion I made an ‘Act of Consecration to the Holy Ghost’ every day.  I still do it frequently.  It’s a beautiful and powerful prayer.

            If you’re not willing to do any research on the sacrament Faithful, or consider the possibility that you’ve been innocently taught mis-guided information, …….then we’re pretty much past the point of much good coming from continuing this discussion.

            But consider this: There is only one Truth; Jesus.  His teachings can usually be identified simply because they are contrary to what ‘The World’ teaches.

            As I mentioned once before, only a year ago I was standing in your shoes, believeing that confirmation was kind of a ‘rite of passage’ for kids in high school.  I was confronted with evidence that said something different, and, wanting to know the ‘truth’, I spent many hours looking into this issue.  I was wrong.  What I had been taught to believe was not the truth about the sacrament in general – from the eyes of Mother Church, but rather the ‘tradition’ of how/when the sacrament was given ‘locally’.

            The author of the book, ‘Called to Knighthood’ – The Sacrament of Confirmation in the Kingdom Family of God, has much more knowledge and information about this than I do.  And it’s all in one place.  Here’s the link where I got my copies.

            http://www.amazon.com/Called-Knighthood-Sacrament-Confirmation-Kingdom/dp/097774308X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307819663&sr=1-1

            Blessing………..

          • faithful123

            Confirmation is ‘thought’ a ‘rite of passage’ by those who enter into that Sacrament of the Holy Spirit…. it’s more….note that YOU ‘thought’ it was
            a rite of passage… but you in adolescence misinterpreted it (through mere youthful mis-understanding) I don’t think you were ‘TAUGHT TO BELIEVE’ THAT’ it’s what you understood of the words at that young age.

            here’s a link from the church authority:

            http://www.dioceseoftyler.org/documents/HandbookCE.pdf

            excerpt: in Confirmation we see the anointing of chrism
            and the laying on of hands by the Bishop, and we hear the words of the rite: an actual physical event is taking place. We cannot see, however, the spiritual event that is taking place at the same time: a deepening and strengthening of baptismal grace and the permanent mark
            on a soul in preparation for public witness.

            See Becky? Confirmation strengthens the GRACE of the Sacrament
            of Baptism. (not strength of FAITH) Grace is there in the first early
            sacraments of initiation.  Confirmation DEEPENS that grace, in preparation for PUBLIC WITNESS… (7 year olds are not up to taking on the deepness that this Confirmation is about)

            Excerpt: It is true that we want to obtain as much grace as we can in this life, but we shouldn’t understand this as obtaining a quantity of something–like gas at a gas station. Instead, we begin
            to understand what grace is by seeing it as life in Christ. Thus, an increase in grace means a GROWING in your relationship with Jesus Christ.

            The HOLY SPIRIT doesn’t just CONFER his GIFTS without seeing some
            GROWTH OF SPIRIT… adolescence SHOULD be about right to take
            on ANOTHER SPECIAL PRESENCE of CHRIST.

            Confirmation is organically linked to the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist. Together, all three constitute the Sacraments of Initiation. In the words of the Catechism, these sacraments “lay the foundations of every Christian life.” (CCC 1212) They initiate because they provide an
            entrance into the fullness of life in Christ that is not unlike the entrance into life that accompanies every human person. By birth, we enter into life as a baby, and then through a process of development and nourishment, we grow into the fullness of life as an adult.

            I think, Becky, the difference in our views comes from the word
            INITIATION… ‘in human terms’ you see this as BEGINNING when
            the actual physical life begins… BUT GOD see’s things different;
            We are being INITIATED into GOD himself… not just physical life

            Therefore, a period of faith formation in childhood is necessary before
            being able to ‘handle’ MORE GRACE the Spirit wishes to give to us.

            Jesus himself GREW in wisdom and stature … with God and man.
            I believe his spirit maturity was around 12 years of age

            Confirmation means accepting responsibility for your faith and destiny.
            Childhood is a time when you’re told what to do, and you react
            positively to reward and negatively to punishment. Adulthood, even young
            adulthood, means that you must do what’s right on your own, not for the
            recognition or reward but merely because it’s the right thing to do.
            Doing what’s right can be satisfying, too. The focus is on the Holy
            Spirit, who confirmed the apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1–4) and gave
            them courage to practice their faith. Catholics believe that the same
            Holy Spirit confirms Catholics during the Sacrament of Confirmation and
            gives them the same gifts and fruits.THE INTIATION PROCESS is not a 1 – 2 -3 thing; get it over with. ByFAITH we receive GRACE….

          • faithful123

            I think, Becky, the difference in our views comes from the word
            INITIATION… ‘in human terms’ you see this as BEGINNING when
            the ACTUAL PHYSICAL LIFE begins… BUT GOD see’s things different;
            We are being INITIATED into GOD himself… not just physical life

            Therefore, a period of faith formation in childhood is necessary before
            being able to ‘handle’ MORE GRACE the Spirit wishes to give to us.SACRAMENTAL LIFE OF GOD… Father, Son, Holy Spirit… Sacraments of INITIATION…  don’t consider ‘time’ in the ‘earthly way’ of seeing… BUTas GOD sees. We are flesh…true, but also SPIRIT… and with God…life doesn’t go by ‘physical age’ … infancy, 7 years, 12 years… our eyes see life in terms of TIME…with GOD…he looks at SPIRIT ONLY… andthat THE SOUL receives GRACES… as in FAITH we LIVE THE LIFE OFCHRIST… Baptism brings the soul to life Spiritually (water and the Spirit)then…after learning of God and His Son… THE SON comes to give usNEW LIFE put into ACTION.  Actual GRACE… as well as Sanctified Grace.  Sacrament of Eucharist, and as we further grow in understanding and our ready to accept our faith and witness as an adult..we confirmour faith… and the SPIRIT makes us aware of what we WERE GIVENat Baptism… (ALL THE GIFTS are there at Baptism…but the GRACEof MATURITY to know how and when to use such wasn’t there) Sacraments of INITIATION…INTO the SPIRIT LIFE…it’s not about initiation in any ‘set beginning time’ (measured in earthly years andtime) God is TIMELESS… think AS GOD…not as mere flesh. SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION are GRACES of HIS PRESENCE as we PROGRESS in the FAITH… (we put a ‘time frame’ on itfor practical purpose…but WITH GOD… time is ETERNAL… all he see’s IS SPIRIT TIME) 

          • Anonymous

            Faithful,

            Not only are we not on the same page….but we’re not even in the same book!

            Once again you have completely missed the point, you’ve misunderstood and misrepresented what I have said, and put words in my mouth. 

            Kindly refrain from telling me what I believe…….you have no idea!

            I continue to pray for you.

             
             

          • faithful123

            I didn’t tell you what you believe. I told you to have another look ‘at how GOD sees’ … Confirming one to an adult faith commitment is one of the requirements of initiation … into THE FAITH OF GOD’S PRESENCE.

            Initiation…has no beginning ‘time’ … because God sees not in terms of time. God sees THE SPIRIT aka SOUL…and ALL GRACE comes
            from GOD… as He sees FAITH in ACTION… BAPTISMAL GRACE is
            SUFFICIENT … to come ‘into GOD’ … nothing else really need be
            added.  Eucharist – after learning of Jesus; is additional GRACE of
            GOD… Eucharist can’t be given to a baptized infant… the infant
            has no comprehension of what it is… just a ‘cookie’ to an infant…
            (the act of learning has to first be there)  AND Confirmation…
            you can’t MAKE SOMEONE a ‘soldier of Christ’ by JUST confirming
            them… that’s not what a Sacramental Presence is about… (and
            this site can certainly rebuke me if they wish)

            INITIATION… has no ‘set time’ … but GOD sets the time…and
            that ‘setting’ comes via THE MAGISTERIUM of the CHURCH
            AUTHORITY… and to hear them …is to HEAR CHRIST himself…
            so we believe… and it matters not what we ‘read in books’ by
            lay persons on this matter… OBEDIENCE is to THE AUTHORITY
            If the Eastern churches (not associated with Rome Papal
            Authority) wish to confirm all at once; we except they were
            baptized, confirmed and given the Eucharist… but GOD still has
            to come to be UNDERSTOOD … or ALL THAT PRESENCE…
            (SACRAMENT – PRESENCE) means nothing… It would be as
            if seeing a crossing guard; one ignored and crossed in the middle
            of the block…because no understanding was there of the meaning
            of that crossing guard’s presence meant to ‘getting to the other
            side’ safely…

            Apologies if I disturbed your ‘comfort’ in ‘knowing’ … maybe
            God used me … to have you have another think…

          • Anonymous

            Faithful states:

            “Becky, the difference in our views comes from the wordINITIATION… ‘in human terms’ ,you see this as BEGINNING when the ACTUAL PHYSICAL LIFE begins…”

            How is this NOT telling me what I believe?

            I am not disturbed, just weary of the conversation.  When one posesses the Truth, there is no need to rethink.  I did that over a year ago when my old way of thinking was challenged – and God allowed me to see the truth regarding this matter, and, as I am more interested in learning the Truth than being ‘right’ or ‘knowing it all’, I was open to the possibility that I had been mis-informed; obviously, you are not.

            Blessings….

  • Christine Ann Hickey

    Fr. John,

    I am new to this site and am finding it to be very helpful.  Thank you for your explanation of meditative and contemplative prayer.  I am a new convert, so have much to learn.  I have had silent, healing conversational prayer with God where He also gave me direction on what to do for further healing, recently.  It was wonderful and I received much insight into my woundedness. He used a book I was reading about heaven to prompt my mental prayer.  Would this be considered affective contemplation?  I’ve experienced the still, small voice previously, but never an extended time of “conversation”.  Thank you.  I am so grateful for this website….

    Christine  

  • Christine Ann

    Fr. John,

    I am new to your website, but am finding it very helpful. Recently, I have experienced silent prayer in “conversation” with God which was so healing, giving me insight into my woundedness as well as direction for what to actively do for further healing.  It was prompted by a book I  was reading about heaven.  I have experienced the still, small voice of God previously, but very briefly; never an extended period of time with such enlightenment.  Would this be considered affective meditation? 

    Thank you for your response to a new convert…

    Christine Ann

  • Mary@42

    A very informative and essential Post to us all. What about me Becky 313???? You have said it…….I must run to my Spiritual Director to help me digest this……. I am truly growing old……….72 yrs’ mind get confused very easily!!!!!!!!

  • Colleen S

    Fr. John, I hope you don’t mind but I tagged you to post on your three favorite scripture verses.  Here is my post where I tagged you:
    http://inadequatedisciple.blogspot.com/2011/05/three-favorite-scripture-verses.html

    I am profiting very much from your book and I have shared it with several others.  I am sometimes in awe that even though I am just proceeding from Matthew forward, and I am only on #55, I am sometimes struck with the teaching–or “grace I most need” based on something occurring in my life, either day or days preceding, or the day of a meditation.  

    Thank you for cooperating with the Holy Spirit to author this book.  It was very much missing in my life to have a discipline of a daily meditation.

  • faithful123

    I guess this is a contemplative God moment; so I’d like to share.  This a.m.
    I awoke to a clear thought: all the difficulties that plague our nation, debt,
    inflation, recession, lack of job growth, unemployment, forclosures: ie: HARD
    TIMES… the idea came: all of this is humans who are clinging to their ways
    and ideas…not wanting to hear truth of living good…

    and then the thought…God is giving those who live ‘a good but average life’
    to show ‘the world’ – even in these times; because of living in the spirit of
    God (I won’t put down the details of how) because of living God throughout
    life…in these hard times we can ‘speak what is true’ without uttering a
    word.  The presence of Christ upholds ‘us’ …such persons have savings
    a home paid for, they might be told the work job is over; but it’s not a
    catastrophe…and they have plans to enjoy life or do other thngs…NOT
    beholden to a paycheck…

    That’s the mission to show ‘the world’ … let they who have eyes to see
    SEE and come aboard the ARK… of the covenant. Come aboard the
    BODY where Christ dwells.

    Coincidentally, today’s Mass reading was Luke 1:39-56The Magnificat… and the Mass Homily basically said be alert for the presence of Christ in one another.  (*and we’ll know that presenceby the ‘fruit’ of our labor… secure, simple living, and content)I wonder if this was a contemplative moment

    • faithful123

      Don’t misunderstand the thought; I am not saying ‘the hard times’ come only to those who don’t know God… NO! I believe the thought was that in these times that are occuring – it is because of the ‘general’ ways that abounded for too long ‘in the world’ … and yes lots of innocent folk are
      now reaping some suffering ‘for the ideology’ that was prevalent… but
      as I understood this ‘thought’ that came: these are the times THOSE OF FAITH can SHOW those who ‘lack faith’ – THE DIFFERENCE… even IF
      hard times come; we still ‘have’ because – to use the parable of the
      oil in lamps… because we were watchful… and lived a quiet and simple
      life… OF GOD. (while ‘generally’ the world was whoopin’ it up)

      • Anonymous

        The darker the night sky, the more brightly shine the stars.

    • Anonymous

      While this certainly appears to be an ‘ah-ha’ moment Faithful, I don’t believe that it is contemplation – not as we are discussing here! 

      More likely an insight or illumination, which is a gift from God, but nothing like contemplation.

      I would caution you in regard to sharing things like this - and all things of this nature - until you have had an opportunity to discuss them privately with someone knowledgeable in this area and see them more objectively.  A ‘good rule of thumb’ is to say nothing outside of spiritual direction or confession.  While the devil cannot read our thoughts, once we have disclosed something like this, he is free to mimic the experience (and often does) if God allows it…….which He does sometimes, to test us.

      I’ve been there – done that!; - - take my word for it…….it’s no fun.

      Blessings!

      • faithful123

        I ‘SEE’ your point. It is why ‘the mature’ cannot reveal THE WAYS OF GOD to all… ALL are NOT READY to receive it as it should be received.
        They DON’T UNDERSTAND…they ‘twist the truth’ to their benefit because their hearts are NOT with Him.

        and this is why things like facebook, twitter and the like (even blogging on a website…dangerous… ALL EYES read but few understand.) blogging and writing our ideas that we know are good … only SHARES THE INFO of what sustains us TO THE ENEMY. In world war II, the adage was
        loose lips sink ships.

        I agree Becky; there’s too much words being spoken and written and
        too many opinions… stated… it’s not working WITH GOD…it’s almost
        working against Him… Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use
        words. Keep busy with our hands, pray, and live in peace…and say
        nothing more.  How much the devil loved those who boasted openly
        the line “I know Jesus personally”  “I have a personal relationship with
        Jesus”  It was nothing but boasting, put some off of God all together
        and was not at all evangelical.  LIVE HIS LIFE.. that’s it.

        As such, I am staying away from all commenting on websites, even
        such as this one. Read I will but NO MORE comments… May the
        Lord forgive me.

  • Anonymous

    wow! :o)

  • Thaskala

    My ardhdiocese is offering a course in contemplation for parishes but judging by the brochure and the references given it doesn’t sound anything like what you have outlined.   It sounds Eastern and the priest who is giving input has published a lot of Eastern/ Christian meditation material and shares his house with people of Eastern religions.

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