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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Catechism – Contemplative Prayer – 2712

April 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Catechism, Contemplation, Dan Burke, Prayer, Prayer

Contemplative Prayer — Catechism Paragraph 2712

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. But he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Dailybreadeditor

    Such an important truth that has been so obscured lately. Most of the people I hear talking about Contemplation have turned it into something we can work ourselves up to by sitting in silence for half and hour repeating a mantra and not the work of the HOly SPirit. 

    • Dan Burke

      Dear Friend, you are right – obscured is a good word. False teaching in this area always begins with method, and always ignores the broader context of holiness and living in a state of grace. With respect to method, you will hear teaching that, in summary, looks like this: Contemplation = Method. Nothing could be further from the truth. Another telltale sign that the teaching is false is when you hear the term “contemplation” used loosely as a synonym for other forms of prayer (usually all ascetical in nature). When distinctions are not made between types of prayer which are appropriate for different stages of spiritual maturity, you are hearing pop-spirituality or syncretistic spirituality, not faithful Catholic spirituality.

      • sheila pettigrew

        Contemplative outreach groups are flourishing in my diocese.  I have read some of Thomas Keatings work and felt i was headed into new age spirituality.  How does the Catholic Church feel about Contemplative Outreach using the work of Thomas Keating?? 

        • Dan Burke

          Contemplative outreach was founded by Fr. Keating and a few others. It is not an official entity of the Church. Here’s a bit of reading that is important on this topic.

          Pay particular attention to the guidance given from then Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict 16th) about authentic Christian tradition regarding prayer.

    • Dan Burke

       Here’s a post that provides a document from the Holy See that deals with the problem you describe here:

  • Mary@42

    Like a 6-months’ old baby sitting on the lap of a loving Parent,  would sitting quietly before the Blessed Sacrament during the Hour of Great Mercy, or just kneeling quietly after Holy Communion with no Prayer forming in your mind be termed contemplation????? I don’t know….Yet often I find myself just looking at Him before me in the Monstrance with nothing to say – knowing He is there looking right back at my heart and soul.  A fleeting though crosses my mind – “He is talking with your soul”… but then, I can’t hear that conversation…..the ears of my soul are deaf.

    And after Holy Communion –  as He advised us through Saint Faustina – He comes to the soul with His Hands full of Graces and Blessings….so, again like that baby above, one simply has no Prayers to say….one just rests in the certainty of being united with Him… acute awareness which words cannot explain….your whole person goes quiet in awe…”His Heart is beating as one with my heart…..His Blood has mingled with my blood and is now circulating throughout my body….His Divine Soul is united with my wretched soul…..healing all the wounds and scars of sins committed, sins confessed and sins forgiven”…..there is a song being sung but I cannot heart it….I do not know the words …..yet I sense it in the silence of my heart and soul. It is like, when I was young – oh, oh, Becky, such a long, long time ago -when one would sit side by side with a loved one saying nothing, and feeling so calm and so loved – without a single word being spoken…..or a glance exchanged…..just looking ahead without seeing anything but acutely aware of the loved one sitting next to you….oh, well, these are musings and forms of Adoration of an old woman….she senses the “Shadows of the Night are gathering on the Western Horizon”….and she daily prays “My Loving Jesus, come when You are ready, and  make me ready when You Come. Amen”…..

    • Banditpark

      how very beautiful….God bless you always

    • Richfamily6

       That was a beautiful prayer in itself.  Thank you for sharing.  I needed that this morning.

    • Becky Ward

      Keep doing what you’re doing Mary…….I love that sitting side by side saying nothing……….we won’t know for sure how much grace or how many blessings are wrapped up in those moments until we get home…….but the soul knows………

    • MariaGo

      I used to kneel quietly after Holy Communion. But now I realize I’ve been talking too much! Thank You for the reminder!

    • Patburton

      Mary, absolutely beautiful reflection! ….Oh just to sit in the silence and let The Lord pour forth into our souls His Love and His Mercy….. His gift to us!….. and Oh what a gift.! 

  • Becky Ward

    There’s some really good stuff in that Catechism!!  :)

    • Dan Burke

      You said it!

  • Ian

    “Be still and know that I am God”

  • Rowenalitorja

    Contemplative prayer is to enter into presence of God where no words, concepts or images,guided by the Holy Spirit. For St. Teresa of Avila, it is supernatural prayer, it can not be acquired, but is received. God changes the way in which he communicates himself to the soul.The Lord puts it at peace by His  presence.The will is fully occupied in loving, but it dosen’t understand how it loves.

    • Dan Burke

      Very well said and right on target!

  • Suzanne Shapiro

    I think the crucial phrases here is “. . .who agrees to welcome the Love by which he is loved. . .”  How difficult it has become, in our world of instant everything, loud everything, electronic everything, to take our eyes, ears and HEART away from a screen or phone and allow ourselves to feel and accept His love.  Our technology is rapidly isolating us from each other with ear phones so that we cannot hear from, or speak to, those around us.  How can we welcome a love we cannot feel or hear?  Where do we get the courage to open to Him when we are so secure in our splended isolation before the screen or with our physical ears covered and our minds focused on music or television programs or talking, perhaps mindlessly, to someone else?  What is it about that love that we fear?  I think it’s the loss of ourselves; we are afraid to be subsumed, yet we LONG to be subsumed.  Loving God, strengthen our feeble courage, calm our frantic minds and crack us open to receive the love you are pouring out into us.  Give us the strength to come out of isolation and into You.

  • judeen

     mary your answer is so close to mine.. to sit..
     sitting infront of the tabernacle.. loving Jesus in silence.. 1 can not hear.. but God talks to the soul.. let go of the body… let go of control.. Jesus… sudden peace enter you… feeling a relaxed feeling… then a surge of energy enters you.. knowing God is talking to the soul… use me oh Lord use me… I am yours ,, may you be glorified in all that I do….

  • Laura wIND

    Beautiful, thank you!

  • LizEst

    Beautiful.  Thank you!