I would like to start by thanking all of you for your generosity. Our tithing is improving and I hope as you go through the course on Lectio Divina, your love for the Lord is deepening. If anyone doesn’t remember how to access it; go to “formed.org” and if you have used the parish sign up method before, it will recognize your computer and log you in, then pull down the “study” tab and then select “Bible studies” and then click on the “Lectio Prayer” square in the middle of the page.
Up to now we have looked at the first four installments, and so now we go to the fifth. It is entitled “Contemplatio: the Gaze of Love”. So we approach the fourth rung in Guigo’s Ladder. Dr. Gray makes the point that this is counter-intuitive, as in the first three steps we were all doing something: reading, reflecting/pondering, conversing with God. Now in this step we let God take over. St. Theresa of Avila speaks of contemplation and compares it to the other steps with an analogy about a well. She says that we go to a well and we lower the bucket and draw out water. This is what happens in the first three steps.
Now in the fourth, contemplatio, we wait for the slow gentle rain of the Lord to get our water. Dr. Gray uses a sailboat analogy. We can build the boat and raise the sail (first three steps) but until the wind comes we are going nowhere. We have to wait upon the wind from the Lord. Contemplation is the fruit of love. There is an old story of St. John Vianney where he notices an older man who comes every afternoon to the parish church and sits for hours staring at the tabernacle, so one day St. John asks him what he is doing for all that time. The old man says, “I look at him and he looks at me, and that is enough.” Contemplation is the lover beholding the beloved, and is the result of a deep spiritual relationship built over time. Contemplation is about presence: being in the presence of the beloved. The fruit of contemplation is to act in a way pleasing to the beloved. Thus, it is truly the underpinning of our ministry and charitable activity. The more we grow in contemplation, the more happiness we will find in serving others and helping others. Let’s continue climbing the ladder and learning the art of mental prayer. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain!