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the relation between meditation and contemplation from a Catholic point of view.

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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 29, 2012 8:05:10 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
Traditionally meditation is on the the Lectio Divina and involves imagining scenes and our involvement in scenes from the bible and from the liturgical seasons.
Contemplation follows meditation when the mind has been cleared of distractions and can be open to the influence of God through the Passive intellect beyond sensitive or imaginative images.

A good book on this is by Cavanaugh "The Complete Works of John of the Cross" . Basically if we are moving towards God consolations console and desolations desolate. If we are moving away from God the opposite is the case.

Mediation on scripture and liturgy helps us "get a handle on" where we are generally headed. After meditation has given us a general direction Contemplation beyond images can give us intelligently known and loved "directives" aspirations and inspirations to follow.

My aunt is an "old school" Catholic and says that she doesn't need to meditate or contemplate what God wants her to do - she just has to do it!

I do tend to perhaps "over" meditate and "over" contemplate but in very busy and often mis-directed world I believe that tendency has helped me at least "keep out of trouble".

Posted on Feb 29, 2012 8:17:45 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
A general aspect I should mention is that of "immediate aspirations" - I have six. Beyond these six is the Ultimate Aspiration "to be with God". The renaissance curriculum of the Trivium - logic grammer rhetoric and the Quadrivium : arithematic, geometry, music and astronomy are seven "general interest" topical ways of classifying "immediate aspirations".
The basic problem is to seek to integrate the immediate aspirations into life and a life towards intelligent knowledge and love of God.

If one can develop short rewarding routines each of which one can practice in a morning or evening and which advance one's skills and confirm one's immediate aspirations in some way and give a sense of accomplishment then it is easier to see the wood for the trees.

Meditation and contemplation are useful in "generating space" for other things and integrating these into our life towards God.

John of the Cross was a great poet as well as a mystic as well as an administrator. Instead of taking space Meditation and contemplation can make space and reduce clutter, but most of all help us to see that we are moving (mainly) towards God.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 10:16:27 AM PST
Rubedo says:
I think many Catholics have an aversion to contemplation. They are all about mental prayer or inner verbal recitation of "prayers" but no so much interested in passive vigilance or "silent love."

CCC2729 The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

2730 In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and dominating self requires vigilance, sobriety of heart. When Jesus insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming on the last day and every day: today. The bridegroom comes in the middle of the night; the light that must not be extinguished is that of faith: "'Come,' my heart says, 'seek his face!'"

2731 Another difficulty, especially for those who sincerely want to pray, is dryness. Dryness belongs to contemplative prayer when the heart is separated from God, with no taste for thoughts, memories, and feelings, even spiritual ones. This is the moment of sheer faith clinging faithfully to Jesus in his agony and in his tomb. "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if dies, it bears much fruit." If dryness is due to the lack of roots, because the word has fallen on rocky soil, the battle requires conversion.

2717 Contemplative prayer is silence, the "symbol of the world to come" or "silent love." Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the "outer" man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus.

Posted on Mar 1, 2012 8:39:35 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
What is CCC2729?
I like to refer to Savation History to illustrate how difficult it is to "clear the mind" rather than simply "have a blank...mind". My reference is to I + II Samual and I + II Kings and I and II Chronicles where God has a "devil of a time" with every generation of "the Chosen People" and Hezekiah's Joy that in his day the people were actually amenable to spiritual formation.

One has to be "in the stream of Salvation History" to be truly "In Tune" with God's intentions. One cannot be a Jeroboamite- "Samaria"n Israelite (my model for protestantism) or a Rehoboamite (my model for deviated Catholic).

But even given this... the time honoured "just tell me what to do " approach of my aunt referring to the Ten Commandments and regular church attendance seems far short of John of the Cross's Poetry on contemplative prayer.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 8:09:39 AM PST
Rubedo says:
Hoo-Zen!! says:
What is CCC2729?

That is the Catholics Catechism

Posted on Mar 4, 2012 5:19:50 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 4, 2012 5:20:25 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
Okay. Okay. But I think that relying on the Catechism risks going back to "rote Catholicism" . It has the value of being a point of constancy from which to reflect on a particular issue. I think you may have missed the point I am making about Salvation History and how tuning oneself to God's intentions being more than "letting the mind go blank" sort of "meditation" or "contemplation". In fact you may have missed the whole point of the original post itself.

Posted on Mar 5, 2012 6:42:14 AM PST
Rubedo says:
I would not be suprised at all if I missed your point. You seem to be talking more about "meditation" in the Christian sense than "contemplation". That is, reflecting on salvation history and God's wil for us. Lectio is the standard method. Integrating logic, grammer, rhetoric, arithematic, geometry, music and astronomy sound more along the line of Bonaveture's Itinerarium.

Posted on Mar 5, 2012 8:19:18 PM PST
Hoo-Zen!! says:
No I am talking about both meditation and contemplation because we a composite being - matter and form and we must climb up the scale of being to make our way to God. There is a proper order Sensation ---> Imagination [addressed by fasting and meditation] ---> Intellect [addressed in Contemplation]. Thats from our side.

From God's side - our prayer must tie in with God's intentions for our world so that God in granting prayer is looking to our orientation _in our world_ towards God. This involves Salvation History and the processs of almsgiving and compassionate practice. Once again meditation and contemplation are involved in their proper order.

I took the quadrivium and trivium as universally and in an ordered way characterising the natural order of growth of the knower towards universality. We come to God as a loving knower seeking grace. Our Heritage is Judeo-Christian - a large part of the Christian heritage is Graeco-Roman - so this provides an avenue by which to organise our immediate asprations with regard to our ultimate aspiration (being with God).

My immediate aspriations are Metaphysics-Semantics-Ethics, Narative and Rhetoric, Modelling of simulation spaces, learning ancient Latin and Greek, Music, Dancing.

Perhaps not all that integrated- but with the general goal of keeping myself between the imagination and the Intellect rather than between the Imagination and the material (where most people are and where I spend a good deal of time). This I feel makes me more available for the higher goods (generally).
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Discussion in:  Catholic forum
Participants:  2
Total posts:  8
Initial post:  Feb 29, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 5, 2012

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