Saturday, March 27, 2010
Most people, if not all, have a contemplative heart without ever recognizing it. The human person is composed both of a body and a soul, and this soul lives only for the spiritual world where God resides. Some persons with contemplative hearts are called to cloisters, where they may spend their lives in prayer and holy service... but most are called to be contemplatives while living in the world. Their hearts, having all the attributes of a contemplative's heart, are meant to be palaces in which God resides and vehicles through which God radiates His love to others.
There are many ways to define this great mystery of the contemplative heart. Those who are meant to be fertile ground for contemplation, and to find God in deep prayer in the world, have an understanding of the communication within the Mystical Body of Christ. They understand how goodness and prayer is channeled to people near and far equally. Thus, they will often be satisfied with engaging in the spiritual works of mercy, and confident of the ability to console others who they are not close to physically. They will also be able to understand the ways in which people on earth can help the souls in purgatory through prayers and sacrifices, and will be inclined to ask the saints and angels for guidance and protection.
One with a contemplative heart often strives to have a very deep and mystical relationship with God. His prayer is full of love and faith, and he habitually listens for God's response. He sees God in everything... from the people around him to the trees and flowers outside. Because he finds God in so many places and circumstances, he is often prone to be optimistic and to consider his pains as simple. As he practices the beatitudes, he finds in them a sweetness which causes his prayer life to come to a more perfect union with the suffering Christ. His countenance and actions are often perceived to radiate a sense of the spiritual, and he is constantly striving for inward holiness without ever being satisfied.
To have a contemplative heart is, frankly, to have the ability to come to a deep love and relationship with Christ in the midst of the material world. All have this to some extent, but most never reach the full potential of contemplation. If one loves Christ, then his charity is constantly growing and spreading. He loves all persons for the sake of Christ, and will easily come to the point where he would give his life to bring good to any person... whether he knows them or not, whether they are friend or foe, he longs to save their souls. This is the most beautiful form of love, and the only form of love which reflects the love which Christ showed in His Passion.
Because the contemplative heart has such an awareness of the spiritual world, it pines for a heavenly atmosphere. Such a heart longs to be alone with Christ, as in a monastery, and seeks perpetual prayer. But, as I have already noted, not all contemplative hearts are meant for cloisters. The thirst for contemplation can be realized in the world through a living prayer life. The contemplative heart will not be satisfied until it rests in Christ in heaven, but it will find fulfillment by "praying unceasingly." In work, play, etc. such a heart can still find God by offering its every action and dedication to Him and with Him and for love of Him.
By recognizing and responding to spiritual presence, the contemplative heart finds consolation during daily activities. The omnipresence of God, the consideration of the saints, and the guidance of the angels provides a constant oasis to which the heart may retreat in any difficulty. Many contemplative hearts can be distinguished by their habit to call upon God's name in faith several times per day, even per hour.
The contemplative heart will, as I mentioned before, habitually follow the beatitudes. It will constantly strive to radiate Christ's love and goodness through example, and perform many acts of kindness out of charity. Such a heart will seek to connect itself intimately with saints and devotionals, and actively seek holiness. It will recognize the grace that is in the sacraments, and seek them out and receive them often with the intention of being filled with this grace. It will also strive to learn more about Jesus through study and attention to revelation, hoping to, in this way, enhance its spiritual understanding of God. No heart rests until it rests in Christ, so it is important for all souls to seek prayer and intimacy with Christ, but some have an even greater insatiable thirst to hold Christ within them. As you pursue your vocation, examine your own heart... are you called to the greater heights of contemplation?