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.