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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Contemplation as a means and an end

Looking at Suarez and learning from my all too-brief time in the monastery, I am learning that contemplation is both a means and and end.

I wrote a few days ago about Ordinary and Extraordinary Contemplation. God calls us to both, but the first is much more attainable, as we cooperate in that, whereas the other is pure gift.

The means to union with God is through Ordinary Contemplation. Suarez uses a quotation and there is no reference (very old, 19th book)..."love of the truth delights in holy leisure". When I google it , I get the same reference which I am staring at in old leather and foxed pages. I am going to assume it is from St. Bernard, as he is the one being referred to most in this section of Suarez.

Let us look at this phrase. First of all, the love of truth is a very Benedictine ideal, and therefore, a Cistercian one as well. Sadly, this love of truth has been lost in some modern Benedictine monasteries, but the ideal to find the truth, through Scripture, the Fathers of the Church, the great philosophers, is all part of the Benedictine heritage. I am sorry so many have become blind to the great saints and authors of the past or, worse, anti-intellectual, for the pursuit of truth is an intellectual act. My three cats could not seek for Truth, as they were not made in the Image and Likeness of God. The seeking of Truth is, of course, the seeking for the knowledge of God.

The rest of the phrase, "delights in holy leisure"indicates something totally LOST in the 21st Century; that is, leisure, which is absolutely necessary for prayer, reflection, meditation and contemplation. Even the monastery where I stayed lack leisure because there are simply not enough nuns to do all the work and they actually have paid gardeners and gift-shop people paid by a government scheme. This is not good in my mind, but a sad necessity if the nuns are to keep up the gardens and the shop.

Lay brothers did those things and externs in the old days.

Busyness kills the soul. I am going to repeat that, busyness kills the soul. If you are too busy to pray and read Scripture daily as a lay person, you are too busy.

Contemplation is a means to union with God and Extraordinary Contemplation is the union we desire, and therefore the end.

To be continued...