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...
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?