Friday, April 10, 2015

Gospel Contemplation

A Jesuit retreat master in the Catholic Times, introduces us to 'Gospel Contemplation' which he distinguishes from meditation on the Gospels. Easier than meditation because there is no need to use our powers of thinking and reasoning. We read  a passage a number of times, and recall it for our Gospel contemplation. 


The Gospel passage is a very brief written expression of what transpired in the time of Jesus. The incident in Mark where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, is an example. Jesus came from Galilee, and was baptized by John at the Jordan-- only three lines of print. What we need to do is to fill the spaces between the lines and pray.  We select something of interest to ourselves, ask questions, and wait for the answers.  


In this situation we look at Jesus leaving Nazareth, his trip to the Jordan. How many were there? What were they doing?  What do we want to know? We wait for the answers to come from deep inside us. It is like the  unfolding of a novel we are writing, but we stop at what grabs our attention. We interact with the Gospel incident, dwelling on what is before us:  an image, thought, feeling, whatever touches us deep down inside, bringing something to our attention that we never imagined before, that could trigger a change in our view point and disposition and make us a new person. This is the heart of contemplation. 


During the contemplation what is not described in the Gospel passage: the feelings of Jesus, his actions, are given meaning by us, we come to an intuitive understanding of the situation. Our hearts are moved, our love grows, and we want to follow him more closely.


There are those that recommend  becoming one of the participants in the scene. In the example we have with John the Baptist and Jesus, one  could take the place of John the Baptist and ask Jesus questions and react with him, but he does not think this is helpful-- too much psychology, and one remains on a superficial level-- meaning for him, the  chances for  change in one's life would be minimal. 


He would like to compare what we are doing to visiting a country market day, and watching what is transpiring and developing in front of us. When something  moves you deeply you stay with it, and think about it, and let your feelings speak. You move from one to another of these situations and let your intuition decide what to do.


Many say their imagination is not good which militates against the Gospel contemplation. He concludes, with his conviction, it is not the imagination that is the problem but the lack of love for Jesus.                 

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