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Contemplation

There is a prayer that we can call the prayer of surrender. In this prayer it is not I who prays; I let God pray in me. The only thing I have to do is remain in God’s light. Saint John of the Cross calls this prayer “contemplation”, and he defines it precisely as God’s prayer in us: “For contemplation is nothing else than a secret and peaceful and loving inflow of God, which, if not hampered, fires the soul in the spirit of love.” How does one hinder this divine inflow? By thinking and talking and by taking the initiative oneself, by excessively showing one’s good will. To a sister who complains that she is less recollected at prayer than during her work, de Caussade says: “God deprives you of feelings of devotion during prayer, to prevent the desires and eagerness they give rise to. While you are at prayer remain exactly as you are in solitude. I do not exact you an atom more of application or attention. Continue in this thoughtful pensive state without allowing your thoughts to dwell on created things and then you will be in God without understanding how, without feeling His presence, nor even knowing how this can be.”

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We can learn from Saint John of the Cross…

They must be content simply with a loving and peaceful attentiveness to God, and live without concern, without the effort, and without the desire to taste or feel Him. All these desires disquiet the soul and distract it from the peaceful quiet and sweet idleness of the contemplation which is being communicated to it.

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One cannot, of course, experience this well-being and freedom at all times. This prayer of surrender can be dry and dull. But it is actually self-love that finds it boring, and that is, of course, good! Self-love must be so bored and desperate that it finally dies of it. “But what am I to do?” writes a sister in desperation to Father de Caussade. “Nothing, nothing my daughter, but to let God act, and to be careful not to obstruct by an inopportune activity the operation of God; to abstain even from sensible acts of resignation, except when you feel God requires them of you. Remain then like a block of wood, and you will see later the marvels that God will have worked during that silent night of inaction.”

—from Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Us by Wilfrid Stinissen, Ch. 3: Being God’s Instrument

IYH-P

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