Contemplation

The word „contemplation" is derived from the Latin word „contemplare" meaning „contemplate, consider". Contemplation is about recognizing God's working within us and our lives. Contemplation is not something one can do or achieve by merely thinking. It is a true gift given by God. However, in an atmosphere of tranquility, mindful awareness and under guidance, we can prepare and become more receptive for contemplation.


Praying with the name of Jesus Christ


Forms of silent prayer, meditation can be found in all religious traditions. The Christian contemplative prayer is accompanied by devotion and love and lets them grow. It is a relationship oriented prayer within the you-me-relationship between the one who prays and God, characterised by the orientation towards Jesus Christ who is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:6).


The tradition: Praying with the name "Jesus Christ" is a form of prayer which has been practiced in Christianity for a long time. Its root lies in the so called One-Word Prayer of the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers, who lived in the Egyptian desert and Palestine in the 4th century. John Cassian brought this form of prayer to Western Europe. Later it also spread from Egypt over Mount Athos into Eastern Europe and was connected with the name of Jesus.


Ignatius of Loyola: Praying in the „Third Way" is described as a form of prayer by the Saint Ignatius of Loyola in his book called "Spiritual Exercises". In this form of prayer awareness is focused on the breathing rhythm, on a simple word of prayer, which is repeated with every breath and also on the relationship between the person praying and God (Spiritual Exercises N° 258). A corresponding sitting/body posture supports concentration while meditating (N° 252).


The „Gries Path": This so called "Third Way" of prayer was developed further by Franz Jalics SJ in his book "contemplative retreat" for this day and age and specified through more precise (exercise) instructions. Concise assistance is given to deal with difficulties arising with praying. To us this type of introduction to contemplative prayer is a foundation for all of course offers.


The church: The Catechism of the Catholic Church (No 2666-2668) specifically advises to practice prayer catechesis and join meditation groups with the "Jesus Prayer".


The form: The continuous, attentive and loving proclamation of the name "Jesus Christ" in a quiet sitting posture, silence and in connection with the rhythm of the breath and awareness of the palms of the hands, are helpful in order to anchor our awareness and deepen our connection with the presence of God and the divine inside us.


The name: When we silently invoke the name of Jesus, we betake ourselves into his presence and open up for his power. In the name "Jesus Christ" you will find his entire person. We align ourselves with his person, enter a relationship with him. Christ - the Risen One is invisibly at work and present. By aligning ourselves with this name, we enter a new, unimagined space for a relationship which wants to open itself up to us. "So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith--that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." (Ep 3:17-19)


The Holy Scripture: The Jesus Prayer opens up a deeper understanding of the Holy Scripture. The familiarity with the bible enables a more lively encounter with Jesus in silent prayer.


Contemplative Prayer


Prayer in silence: When we need clarity for our life, instinctively we often search for a place of silence. Here inner turmoil can settle and be sorted. Jesus himself always goes back to silence. He seeks the desert, a mountain top, a garden, a place by a lake, a temple or the quiet room in his house.


Presence: In the silent Prayer with the name „Jesus Christ" we align ourselves with his person, his invisible but effective presence. God is the "I AM" (Ex 3:14), but often we can't perceive his presence. We practice focusing our attention on the present moment and anchor ourselves within it. We learn "to see him who looks after [us]" (Ge 16:13-14)


Awareness and Mindfulness: The contemplative prayer leads us away from life's distractions to more mindfulness and awareness towards our fellow human beings, ourselves and God's creation. It leads us to a more fulfilling life in the here and now.
Like "the lilies of the field and… the birds of the air" we are trying to let go of excessive "anxiousness about tomorrow" but" seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, for all [these] things will be added to [us]". (Mt 6,25-34)
Longing: In every person lies a longing for security, home and community. There is a deeper longing for relationship, for the one "whom my soul loves" (Song 3:1). It is the search for meaning and a fulfilledl life, the search for a fine pearl or treasure hidden in a field, of which Jesus speaks. (Mt 13:44-46).


Path to the source: Silence is the path leading to the inner centre and source of life. "The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (Jn 4:14). In the innermost realm of the soul this source of life will be found and develop into a river, "where everything lives" (Ezek 47:1-12). All of our resources are nourished by this stream.


Breath and  Holy Spirit: By focusing on our breath, we experience ourselves in relation to a source of life, which is quiet and imperceptibly effective. The breath is a gift and happens without any thought or effort on our part. The breath is just there and gives us life. The bible describes the breath as a parable for the Holy Spirit and illustrates it as God's breath of life. "God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature" (Gen 2:7). "Jesus breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit" (Jn: 20,22).


Regeneration: The contemplative prayer is without purpose and is not aimed at performance or success. We allow ourselves to experience what is - and that is enough. There is no need for us to achieve anything. The contemplative prayer allows us to rest in God and to come back to ourselves. We are allowed to be the way we are. (S)he who prays, indulges in the giver of all good. "How can you be generous with others if you are stingy with yourself" (Sir 14:5)


Body and Soul: Contemplative prayer allows us to experience that we are in a relationship with God as whole people with a body, a soul and a spirit. The contemplative path awakens our consciousness and allows us to experience, that "[y]our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within [us]" (1 Cor 6:19). This consciousness also leads to a deeper appreciation of the bodily-emotional side of our being human.


Reconciliation and healing: Praying helps us become more authentic and more sensitive. A more keen sense for our inner condition also brings us into contact with what is hurt or wounded inside ourselves. It takes willingness to forgive and reprocess painful memories and experiences in the healing presence of God. Little by little a growing, freeing reconciliation with our life and life story can unfold. And the hardening and petrifactions of our heart can sense and adopt the pulse of life again (Ez 36:26-28).


Community and Eucharist: Through communal prayer and meditations with the name "Jesus Christ" we experience ourselves as a community around Jesus, as "the body of Christ" (1 Cor 12:27). This experience finds a very special expression and is condensed in the celebration of the Eucharist. St. Augustine expresses this succinctly upon the reception of the Holy Communion: "Behold what you are, become what you receive: the body of Christ". Contemplative prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist point in the same direction.