Thursday, March 29, 2012

About Contemplation

ANONYMOUS WROTE: Contemplation is a gift from God and it took St Teresa of Avila 31 years to achieve it! Praying the rosary is a good prayer life,but i seriously doubt it would give someone a kundalini awakening.The meditations can make me cry though especially the sorrowful mysteries in imagining Mary at the foot of the cross,and all the pain Jesus endured for us.That is the beginning of contemplation and what St Teresa advised the nuns to focus on,The passion

This was posted in Comments under the And Then it got Really Weird... post. By the time I wrote a response it was a whole post, and I hate to take UMI off headline (look below!) but I thought it was a good time to revisit the topic.

So first, as a sidenote, I don't care if people are anonymous, I'm anonymous, but I wish you'd take a second and just post a name so I don't have to actually call you "Anonymous."   Anyway...

Dear Anonymous,

It didn't actually take St. Theresa 31 years and she never achieved anything.  Second thing first.   You said it yourself: the experience that we call contemplation is a gift of God, so no one can achieve it.   He gives it where and as He wills.  My first union with God, or "achieving" contemplation, came within a week of beginning my practice.  Some people have that experience without ever consciously doing anything.  You might be interested in Elizabeth Mahlou's conversion experience. This is an atheist who was mocking God with a prayer when He slammed her into a contemplative totality.

Contemplation isn't a single definable thing.  It isn't a thing at all or particularly definable, anymore than God, Himself is definable.  As to the 31 years: You make it sound like she was doing devout contemplative practice for 31 years and then something happened.  This is false to fact.   Theresa had almost immediate extraordinary experience.  She also fell away from that kind of prayer practice for most of those 31 years.

As for what you doubt or do not about what someone reports about an experience they had while praying the Rosary, we just don't get to decide for God when or why He Graces us.  Jesus very presence was something He gave to the lowest of society.  He dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and sought out one person in a whole country to whom He revealed Himself: a Samaritan women living in sin. The lowest of the low. To whom will these experiences come?  Can you say?  Does the eagle fly at your command?

Will we have arguing with the Almighty by the critic?  

That always makes me laugh.

About contemplation.  All we have is desire.  The first Grace is knowing our desire, our "naked intent, yearning for God."  We become aware of our own soul desperately searching, longing, trapped in our egos, forgotten, battered.  We don't first surrender to God, we first surrender to our own soul's desire.  We spend lives indulging the desires of our bodies.  In a second, an "atom of time" we can let go of ourselves and let our soul fly as it wills.

The different ways people employ to do this, to let go of themselves have been described and named  through the ages.  They are suggestive but essentially useless as a definitive guide for humanity.   We each need to find our own way to let go.

These practices and techniques are what we refer to as "contemplative prayer."  Some call it meditation.  Some other names.

But contemplation as Theresa is speaking of it, as we experience it in the extraordinary moments, is nothing less than union with God.  "Oned with God" as Cloud of Unknowing says.  Unknowing.  Oned with God by not knowing any thing.

And in that our souls are healed and strengthened and come back to us like living water welling up and filling us until our dead physical selves are saturated with the unknowing.  And it is later, in the mundane everyday that the miracle of knowing comes and we say, "Wow.  I've been wrong all along."  Or "Why did I not see before how beautiful that was?"  And we start to learn the beginnings of  Love.  And then we start to live.

Not one person on this earth deserves, or can earn, Grace. Not one has any claim on any microsecond of oneness.   God gives it because it's Who He IS.  That Samaritan woman was a great Saint compared to me.  Shall I deny His gift in the way He gives it because I feel unworthy?

Shall I become the Critic?


  1. Julia,

    You need to find yourself a spiritual director ASAP.

    May God bless you always,

  2. You know Carol, I've been looking for an SD for a decade. Here's an account of my most recent attempts: . I asked the new pastor of the Parish I just moved into, the FSSP priest who is busy turning us into a Latin-rite only parish. He interrupted me before I was done with two sentences, told me he was too busy and had no idea how I could find one.

    Then I asked the pastor of the other Parish in town I joined as I don't speak Latin. He said he didn't do that but maybe I should call around. I asked if he had a name or suggestion where to start and he said, "Here's some spiritual direction: go exploring."

    I have no idea what in this post would prompt you to say this to me, but I happen to heartily agree with you. But in ten years, I have not found even a hint of a hint of spiritual direction available to me. I gave it to God. When He finds me an SD, I'll have one. Until then, I have Jesus.

  3. In retrospect,I think you may be right as it seems the Catholic church is so burdened and short on priests thAT finding a spiritual advisor could be difficult. I asked a very devout lady at my church about locating one to try to reconcile the path God was leading me on.She said she had tried too and though encourged me said it may be futile.I still believe there is someone out there who can help me. God works in mysterious ways ,

    What concerns me about you is your promotion of psychics and reconciling it with church teaching.It does confuse me because many saints were said to have this ability too yet when is it contrary to the word of God? I have yet to figure this out.

    The church is very clear on its teaching regading practicing homosexuals. Civil unions may seem like a good idea yetthe church has historically condemned sodomy.The OT and new testament both reference it as contrary to Gods law and purpose for mankind.

    You cannot be anti abortion and pro choice,It is a contradiction.

    I have no idea why I was lead here to this blog, but I trust in God to show me why.

    My earlier remarks concerning kundalini as something not of the Holy Spirit remain firm.My sister awakened this ablity and though she became very gifted artistically , practiced astral travel,and experienced clairvoyance,she also became very hateful toward our mother who was a devout practicing Catholic.Her arrogance became very extreme and she was always looking down on everyone as if she was the only one who really knew God.

    Not long ago she contacted me out of the blue and warned me that something I was investigating could get killed.She used the term martyr. I had no idea how she knew these things and she was not very kind in warning me.I still love her and pray for her.

    Thanks for listening.


  4. Carol,

    Let me start by saying I'm really sorry about what's going on with your sister. I understand it, though. The Parish I was in when I started doing contemplation and all the is "woke up" in me, was led by a very spiritually aware priest and I was never told by anyone that what was going on with me was against the Church in any way.

    Then I moved to the eastern part of the US and it was like a completely different Church. I might have left myself if God hadn't specifically called me to the Catholic Church and that Parish.

    You said: What concerns me about you is your promotion of psychics and reconciling it with church teaching. It does confuse me because many saints were said to have this ability too yet when is it contrary to the word of God? I have yet to figure this out.

    I'm not sure what you mean by my "promotion of psychics." I've never suggested people run off to a psychic, though I did once say people can go see John Edward and make up their own minds. I meant sit in a large audience, though, not consult him, personally.

    There are instances of psychism all through the Bible. There are warnings against sorcery and such, too. Saint Peter was psychic. Jesus, of course, was. Even here in the very rigid Church of the east, the diocese has an exorcist that works with a medium.

    The Church sends mixed messages. Padre Pio, the great psychic/mystic said to not worry. Pray and don't worry, Jesus will take care of everything. I hope you and your sister find a way to be closer. I hope you will give her to Jesus and into the keeping of our Blessed Mother and maybe just let her tell you about her gifts and let it be what it is without argument or criticism.

    In the Bible it says we are given these gifts to benefit all. If she felt like she had to leave the Church to do that, well, you can see why. In fact, this might be Jesus leading, how do we know it isn't? Maybe if you accept her without bringing the Catechism into it at all, you will be her doorway back to the Church, someday.

    Thank you for sharing your story here. I'll pray for you both. And I hope you will pray for me. I need all the help I can get.

  5. Julia,what I am saying is my sister received something and it was not from the Holy Spirit,but demonic.There is no such thing as kundalini power or chakras.It is an eastern contruct describing submitting your will to unknown entities.The chakras are nothing more than nerve plexus and the shakti power is sexual energy. This awakening is described fully in regards to the new world religion or the universal ancient mysteries of freemasonry. Google the word and it will take you to an interesting site. Universal ancient mysteries is mystery babylon of revelations.

    I am praying every day.

  6. Carol,

    The local Pastor thought what the children at Fatima saw was of demonic origin. This is because there are people who always think anything supernatural that wasn't vetted by the Church at least 100 years ago must be.

    But the Liar works in many guises, and one would be to convince you with a lot of online modern mythology that what is a natural ability enhanced through prayer is "demonic" instead of a gift given, as it says in Scripture, "to benefit all."

    Catholics and the Church, don't have exclusive rights to the Holy Spirit. And neither you nor I get to decide from whence some gift comes.

    But let's look at the fruits. Is your sister participating in orgies? Sexually molesting children? Organizing murder for hire gangs? What is there about her life that is so evil she must be in the grasp of the demonic?

    Carol, psychism is like singing. Pretty much everyone can with varying degrees of success and a few people are very good at it. It's neither demonic nor Divine; it's genetic.

  7. It is a curse to me and I wish God had never shown me the things I have seen!!! Dead bodies everywhere,fire in the sky,and hurricanes,peoples eyes bleeding and death everywhere.Churches destroyed and desolation.I try to be opptomistic,Julia,but it seems perhaps my sister got the better end because all i have is suffering.Sometimes i wish I were dead,because no matter how many times I go to confession or receive Jesus in the sacrament,the visions will not leave. So much for gifts,I pray to have it taken away but it just gets worse,So yeah,i supose we all have it to some degree,but I NEVER asked for it.

  8. I never asked for it, either. I think since you are now describing your own visions, it would be good to talk about how we discern a psychic vision from a Divine message from a psychological aberration. I think I'll just write a new post about it and we can continue this conversation under that post, if you like.

  9. no i think I am done here.God has blessed you richly and I am greatful to have met you,I am not crazy,if that is what you think,I told my priest about some of the visions and he said I cannot stop what is going to happen but to pray for my family. Take care,Julia

  10. Carol, I don't know why you assumed I thought you were "crazy," but I don't think that. In fact, a lot of people are having similar kinds of visions, dreams and locutions these days.

    So, I'll be writing that post anyway and I hope you come back long enough to read it. In any case, take care of yourself.