Used as a synonym of prayer makes people think in something quite supernatural or extraordinary as the Ecstasies of Saint Theresa or some other spiritual manifestation.
But the carmelites (those who are in the Carmel, monasteries founded by St. Therese) call contemplation a simplified look to Him in love. Of course I’m talking about God when I say Him with capital letters. But Contemplation isn’t only about prayer or “seeing” God.
We can look at a beautiful beach from the top of a cliff. First we see the waves and the small boats almost in the line of the horizon, we pay some attention to the clouds and their movement… after some time we kind of forget the details and we take just the beauty of the
whole picture. That is also a simplified look into the beauty and it can be called contemplation. We can call this a simple contemplation of the creation, we can have it without much effort.
There is other kinds of contemplation, one happens when you contemplate an idea. For example: at the college we have to figure out a lot of concepts we didn’t know before. So it happens for us to turn around a phase or an idea for hours before we can really understand it. Once we got it there is that feeling of “mission accomplished” and we’re just in awe in front of the concept we “conquered” this is also a contemplation, in the first moment we have to make an effort to get all the pieces together but at the end is only the whole idea that matters. This form of contemplation is more valuable that the first one because we put a lot of ourselves on it.
And there is the contemplation of God. Which is also a human way of contemplation but helped by the Holly Spirit of God. In the contemplation of our prayer what matters isn’t the good feelings or the peace we can achieve but the vision of our Lord. When we have an experience of His presence, if we feel it or not (Those who already had this experience will understand me better); when we are transformed just by The Presence that’s what counts in our life of prayer. It is from the inner side, from the heart the changes in our lives begin.
So next time you pray “do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words.Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”(Mt, 6, 7-8). Just look at Him and let His love come upon you, if you need something to help you remember about his love you can contemplate the nature or His love revealed in the scriptures.
“For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” (St. ThéRèse of Lisieux, Manuscrits autobiographiques, C 25r.)
If you have any doubts about prayer and the love of God just leave a comment and I’ll be pleased o answer.
Today is someone’s birthday.
There are millions of people I don’t know celebrating their birthday. But there is one I know very well blowing up candles today, actually she doesn’t like birthday parties then I’m not sure if she’s really going to blow up her candles but for the sake of the style I’ll let the expression stay. That person, so different than me, have passed into my life a very long time ago almost unnoticed one day, not very different from the other friends I have made she came out of nowhere and started a conversation, in a few weeks those small talks became friendship, this friendship with the years became deeper and deeper and today I can say she is my “secret garden” where I can feel safe. It is weird to call someone “where” but Saint Paul keeps saying on the letter to the Ephesians that “in” Christ we have salvation (is interesting to see how sometimes for Paul Christ and salvation look like a place we can almost measure cf. Eph 3,18). Back to what I was saying for me it feels like I’m safe; safe from misjudgment, misinterpretation, from bad impressions, I can be myself.
It is very interesting how people make a whole lot of changes in our lives just by being who they are. I am very found of friendships no matter how many friends I might have I want to make more friends, just because of the good they bring into my life.
I hope my life brings the same to others.
I had a short conversation this morning with my colleagues in the training I’m doing at wizard (to be an English teacher). We talked about climate change and how we don’t have a formed opinion about it.
I was going to make some research on the web but as I’m tired and tomorrow I have to be there again early I’m talking what I think and after, if I feel like doing it (or if I get comments asking for it) I may publish some findings.
Well that makes me think is that among scientist global warming isn’t unanimous, but for the media it is already scandal and urgent and the end of the world. Ok we produce a hole lot of CO2 but it is enough to change the temperature of the planet? I really don’t know… I’m not saying that it isn’t I’m only saying I don’t know… how much CO2 the Amazon jungle produces at night? not to talk of the forests of pine trees on Siberia during the winter… isn’t that a lot too?
People talk about the ice that is melting on the poles, that a part of the planet will sink. Come on guys, Netherlands is surviving for centuries under the level of the sea, do you really think all those companies that have brokers in NY will let it be flooded?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t do something or the clime isn’t changing I’m only saying the world is not going to end in 2012… Humanity has been finding ways to adapt… If it is irreversible lets deal with a little less of anxiety, if there is something we can do lets do it. This is also part of the commandment “You shall not steal”. Let’s not steal the natural resources of our planet from the future generations.
Dear Fr. Joe: Does God know what we are going to do before we do it?
In the last issue, we looked at free will and how God’s knowing everything doesn’t mean we have no freedom to choose. A classroom at Flint Powers High School sent me a dynamite follow-up question when I worked through this with them. Here’s what they asked:
Q: Jesus told Peter he would deny him three times, so didn’t he know already what Peter would choose? Was Peter free to not deny Jesus? Does God know which options we are going to pick before we do?
Such a good question deserves an absolutely crazy answer. To that end, I’m starting right off with the crazy:
Peter didn’t deny Jesus because God said he would; God said Peter would deny Jesus because he already had.
OUCH! I know, I know…here’s how I explain that.
As we discussed in the last issue, you and I are in linear time, but God is not: God sees all of time and history as one moment. But, in that moment, God doesn’t just see “what happens,” He sees every possibility that could happen. In the words of C.S. Lewis, God sees eternity as an everlasting “now.” So, Peter was free to not deny Jesus in the future, but Jesus, who was already in the future, saw that he wouldn’t! Wow – it’s mind-blowing, isn’t it?
It happens numerous times in Scripture that God prophesies something that doesn’t happen: Heck, the whole book of Jonah is predicated on a prophesy that never comes to fruition – Nineveh didn’t get destroyed and Jonah, of all things, knew that that is what would happen.
One of the best examples of this idea can be found in looking at Our Blessed Mother (never a bad idea, right?). Check out this passage from the catechism:
The “splendor of an entirely unique holiness” by which Mary is “enriched from the first instant of her conception” comes wholly from Christ: She is “redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son.” The Father blessed Mary more than any other created person “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” and chose her “in Christ before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless before him in love”. (CCC 492)
The emphasis in bold is mine. The key is this: God kept Mary from any stain of sin from the very moment of her conception in order to prepare her to give birth to Christ. How did God do this? Through the merits of Christ! Our God sees and acts in linear time, but is never enslaved to it.
Finally, the last example I’ll use is Christ’s death on the cross. Look at Hebrews 6:4-6:
For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy…and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt.
This one may be the easiest to understand as we embrace it every day. You and I are saved by an act that happened 2,000 years ago. Not only that, but our sins, committed today, drive the nails that killed him 2,000 years ago. This is why we should never choose to sin “knowing God will forgive us”: Each sin drives the nails again.
So, hopefully, I’m helping us see that when God “predicts the future,” he is seeing all possibilities for our future. He sees them, but never “enslaves” himself or us to those choices because that would violate free will.
So does God see the specific options we choose? A few months ago, a former teacher of mine died. His funeral was the same day that I was supposed to say Mass for the seniors at our high school. I called my teacher’s brother and told him why I’d be late to the funeral, but that I’d be there. When he realized I was not going to teach that day because of the funeral, he convinced me to miss the funeral and teach – that would be the best way I could honor his brother.
I wasn’t convinced, but I went into the senior philosophy class. One of my students, who has really struggled with believing God loves him, decided that he believed that day – based on something I taught.
Now, what if I hadn’t called my friend’s brother?
What if I did call him and he didn’t answer the phone?
What if he did answer the phone and told me to come?
We could do this all day, right? And, the morning that I made the call, did God see which one I would choose? Here’s the yes: Yes, because God was already in what we call the future. He had already seen the day I taught. Here’s the no: No, because that is not all he saw: he saw each possibility and saw it to its logical conclusion.
Frankly, brothers and sisters, this is just one of the reasons we are in awe of God. What a mighty, awesome Lord we serve! In the words of the psalmist:
LORD, you have probed me, you know me: you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar. My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all. Behind and before you encircle me and rest your hand upon me. Such knowledge is beyond me, far too lofty for me to reach
Enjoy another day in God’s presence!
– Father Joseph Krupp
from: Faith magazine
Dear Fr. Joe: If God knows everything, what is the point of free will?
Q. Since God knows everything, then he knows what we are going to do next and if we are going to heaven or hell; what does that mean for free will?
A. This is one of the hardest questions I’ve had to work on – what a great challenge you gave me! Let’s dive right in.
We start by saying “God knows everything” and think that means God knows what we are going to do next. I’m afraid its much more amazing than that: When we say God knows everything, we mean God knows every possibility. That, my friend is mind-bending.
Look at it this way: You and I and everyone you know live in linear time. In a nutshell, linear time is the way we experience reality. It is defined by constant motion. We are always moving forward; we remember the past (usually badly!) and move forward toward the future. We use the word “now,” but when is “now?” When it comes to the past, we can only remember it; we can’t go back there. When it comes to the future, we can only guess what’s going to happen and again; we can’t get there.
With me so far?
So, we linear-time creatures are extremely limited in our ability to experience time. We have a vague, amorphous “now,” which doesn’t really exist, an almost non-existent means of predicting the future and a highly inaccurate recollection of the past, with no ability to “re-enter” it. Basically, we experience time as a scroll – time, quite literally “unfolds” for us.
So, how does God experience time? Well, we’re not God (I’ll leave out the obvious joke), so all we can do is explain our best guess. Here’s how I do it: You and I experience time like a scroll, but God sees all of time and history as one moment, like you see this page in the magazine.
As you read this, there is a seemingly infinite number of possibilities open to you. You could rip the page out of the magazine and burn it (that may be the best option for you); you could keep reading, move on to a better column (the salad recipe looks good); all sorts of options. If you think about it, no matter which option you choose, it creates a whole bunch of different options for the people you will encounter. For example, let’s say you decide to read this article and then share later with someone what you read. They then have the choice to discard it or embrace it and that changes the options of all the people they will meet. Now, the crazy part is that there are more than 6 billion people on the planet, all of whom are constantly changing each other’s options. Until heaven (God willing), we’ll never really know the effects of our everyday decisions and actions (this is why I’m a regular at confession).
Now, brace for the brain melter: When God sees our time and history, he doesn’t just see all that has happened and will happen, God sees every possibility. God knows everything that could possibly happen next, how it changes the entire future of the human race and each possibility along that tree. It’s astounding to think about. This is just one more reason to be in absolute awe of God.
So, now, when we land back into the hard-core reality of our own lives, hopefully we can see that we are truly free. God is not a puppet master, pulling our strings, but a mighty, omniscient God who looks at each thing we could do and meets us there when we make our choice. When I was a younger man, I remember a great quote my folks gave me: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future.”
You are free at every moment. Free to choose to love, free to choose to sin. Whatever our future, God is there, waiting with all the love and grace we need to be who He has called us to be.
Let’s choose wisely.
Enjoy another day in God’s presence!
– Father Joseph Krupp
from: faith magazine
Some videos that make one proud to be catholic:
If you’re thinking about vocation just talk about it with a priest I promise he can help you find your own path, he has found his…
Yesterday I was talking to a close friend about our needs. About how some people need to sleep more than others, and as the conversation was flowing I just came out with “I need arts”. As she seemed she wasn’t getting it I tried to explain that sometimes in my life I just need to get some beauty into my system, I mean to see a painting or a good Photoshop design (come on this is art too!! Some examples of what I’m talking about) or a music.
At this point beauty for me becomes very abstract as a concept because I really think pop music can be beautiful but at that point of stress I just need a minimalistic kind of beauty. When I’m at this kind of contemplation I can’t help not to think about what Saint Augustin once said that is seeing the beauties of this world that we could see “The beauty”.
For me this music is an example of what I’m trying to say. This guy probably isn’t a Christian and I have no idea of what his experience of good might be; but he had an experience about love and he was able to translate it very well into music.
This also shows me that once you’re looking for God He shows himself right away specially if you’ve already had a good and deep experience of His presence. You can contemplate not only God but His creation and even human creation and find Him.
I promise to talk about the life of prayer and my life of prayer on one of the next posts.