Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Contemplative Life

Living an integrated life in harmony with  God's will is the topic for the spirituality column in the Catholic Times. The columnist starts with the words of Mencius telling us to develop  the original nature that we have been given by God. He calls this  the integrated life; the opposite would be a fragmented or broken life. It is impossible to have an integrated life, he says, if meeting others, talking,  and  our actions during the day are done without  meaning.  We have to be integrated  with all of God's creation. Most live a fragmented life: meeting with a few people and tied up with a few activities  and  lacking  confidence.

As babies, when hungry we cried; when we wanted a special toy, we pestered our parents; we were concerned only with ourselves. This is an example of the fragmented life. As grownups, even if hungry we knew how to take what we have and share with another. This is a life that has integrated God and others into our vision.

The community of the Church also is infected with self-serving  selfishness: the "doing it my way" approach to everything. We realize the presence of God, but it is still my will. We should not say only that it's my fault but cry out in a louder voice you desire to do  God's will.

The columnist recommends that we examine our fractured life and look for the problems, committing oneself to working for a renewed integration and  formation.  He suggests that we go back to the past and give a new interpretation to what has happened,  and make it fit into the mental, spiritual and physical person that we are at present, related with others at home, school, and at work.  If our lives are fragmented, it is difficult to say that we lived in congruity and in harmony with God's will. When we live in harmony with God' will we can say it is a contemplative life, an integrated life.

Some see the contemplative life as concerned only with the head: intellectual and logical, involving the mental faculties. Many want to relate with God, intellectually.  People of faith have to take another step; we  have a  desire for God and want to receive his inspiration. We can't explain this with the head. One can go far with the head but for a person of faith, we know there is a limit to this and wait for the inspiration of God to renew us.

The mental and physical aspects of life can do much for us but without the spiritual dimension we can not have integration in life. This is the contemplative way of seeing life and it is this life that we are continually being  tempted to neglect by the worldly distractions surrounding us. The search for God's will is this integrated life. To do it by reason and with techniques is to do it my way.

Persons of faith should be in a higher dimension than those without faith because they are open to another aspect of life, which is the  reason for our life of gratitude.

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