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Saint Bernard’s Four Kinds of Contemplation

February 8, 2014 by  
Filed under Anthony Lilles, Contemplation, Featured, Prayer

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At the end of his treatise on contemplation (also known as his treatise On Consideration), Saint Bernard of Clairvaux observes the dimensions of Christian mental prayer.  Specifically, when Saint Paul prays in Ephesians 3:18 that we might come to comprehend and be filled with the breadth and length, height and depth of the fullness of God revealed in the love of Christ, Saint Bernard sees four kinds of contemplation. For Saint... Read More

Infused Contemplation – Spiritual Dictionary

December 19, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Dan Burke, Navigating, Prayer, Spiritual Dictionary

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INFUSED CONTEMPLATION: An infused supernatural gift, that originates completely outside of our will or ability, by which a person becomes freely absorbed in God producing a real awareness, desire, and love for Him. This often gentle or delightful and sometimes non-sensible encounter can yield special insights into things of the spirit and results in a deeper and tangible desire to love God and neighbor in thought, word, and deed.... Read More

What is the “Prayer of Simplicity”? (Part III of III)

November 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Prayer

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…a reader asks: Q: Dear Father John, I’ve heard that the prayer of simplicity is a kind of a bridge from meditation to contemplation. Can you help me to understand what this experience of prayer might be and how one might know that God is leading them down that path?   In the first part of this post, we discussed mental prayer in general, meditative mental prayer and the unity underneath the various prayer methods. ... Read More

What is the “Prayer of Simplicity”? (Part II of III)

November 11, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Fr. Bartunek, Prayer

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…a reader asks: Q: Dear Father John, I’ve heard that the prayer of simplicity is a kind of a bridge from meditation to contemplation. Can you help me to understand what this experience of prayer might be and how one might know that God is leading them down that path? In Part I, we discussed mental prayer in general, meditative mental prayer and the unity underneath the various prayer methods.  Today, we will continue... Read More

What is the “Prayer of Simplicity”? (Part I of III)

November 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Mental Prayer, Prayer

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Q: Dear Father John, I’ve heard that the prayer of simplicity is a kind of a bridge from meditation to contemplation. Can you help me to understand what this experience of prayer might be and how one might know that God is leading them down that path? A: The term “prayer of simplicity” is used differently by different spiritual authors, so there is some danger of confusion in answering this question. I will try to define... Read More

How can I Avoid False Teachings on Prayer? (I of III)

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…A faithful follower of the Lord asks:  Dear Dan, I enjoy reading more modern writers about prayer and the spiritual life but I am always worried about false teachings that could lead me away from the heart of the Church. How can I know when an author is not orthodox or teaches something that could lead me to deception instead of to God? You are wise to be concerned about finding the pure teaching of God on the matter of... Read More

Theology and Contemplative Prayer

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Contemplation needs scientific theology and theologians need contemplation.  Historically, contemplatives who have presumed otherwise unwittingly submitted themselves and those they influenced to all kinds of demeaning irrationality.   At the same time, whenever theologians believe they can conduct their investigations without prayer, their body of scholarship becomes less capable of building up the holiness of the Church.  We... Read More

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and Loving God

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In the wisdom of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, there is great reason to be confident as we begin to learn to love God.   He is not ignorant of the fact that most of us often fall short in our efforts to seek God and live according to His commands.  His exhortation stands, not on the quality of our own initiative, but on God.   Saint Bernard of Clairvaux proposes that God Himself is the cause of loving God: [God] is both the efficient... Read More

What is Spiritual Theology?

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What is Spiritual Theology?  There is a lot of diverse opinions on this topic.  Probably the best explanation is provided by Jordan Aumann, O.P., in his well known Spiritual Theology.   To best understand the conversation that he introduces, it is important to note that all the branches of theology, as a disciplined study of sacred doctrine, constitute just one unified science.  This is true even if this single scientific... Read More

An Answer to a Question: What is Contemplation?

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Recently, Dan received an interesting question and after we talked about it, I asked whether I might respond.  Here is the question: “Is the terminology for prayer different from Ignatian to that of Carmelite spirituality? I’m a Secular Carmelite and I just went on an Ignatian retreat. My understanding of contemplation was that it was a complete gift with no activity on our part. However, the director defined it when... Read More

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