Several years ago I heard a spiritual writer describe contemplative prayer as “conscious union with God.” If I remember correctly, the writer was Father William Johnston, S.J.
I would like to share some thoughts on contemplative union by offering you the image of a loving couple sitting on a bench and holding hands as they gaze at the sunset. They are enjoying “conscious union” with each other as they gaze at the lovely western sky. Let me suggest that they are also in “conscious union” with God, in so far as they can experience God’s beauty reflected in the setting sun.
Below, I offer passages from Scripture, which I believe provide a good starting point for those longing for contemplative union with God. After each passage, I will follow up with a few personal reflections. I hope the Scripture passages serve as stepping stones that help lead you toward contemplative union with God.
As you ponder these words, let yourself move into a contemplative state of mind and heart and become united consciously with Jesus. Let yourself, the branch, become one with Jesus, the Vine. Focus on that intersection point where you, the branch, intersect and become united with Jesus, the Vine. Quietly savor the feeling of oneness with Christ who is the Incarnate Word and Infinite in Being. Open yourself to the vastness of the divinity of Jesus, who surrenders himself entirely to you. Taking some deep breaths, surrender yourself humbly to the infinite God who loves you.
Open your heart to Christ who lives within you. As in the prayer above, let yourself move into a contemplative state in which you become consciously and silently united to Jesus who lives deep inside you. Savor the feeling of oneness with Christ who is the Incarnate Word of God.
St. Paul, speaking at the Areopagus in Athens, is describing God as the “God who made the world and everything in it” and “who is the Lord of heaven and earth” and the God who “gives to all mortals life and breath.” Open yourself to this vast God who is, nevertheless, very close to us. Allow yourself to be consciously united with your omnipresent God, in whom you “live and move and have your being.”
How can we best respond to Jesus knocking? We respond by opening the door of our hearts with warm hospitality—and by believing wholeheartedly that the risen Jesus truly wants to enter into our hearts and let us be consciously united with him. Take several moments to savor this awesome experience of being in communion with our risen Savior. We are also reminded of our opportunity, as Christian believers, to be consciously united with the risen Christ each day in the Eucharist.
This is an excerpt from Jack Wintz, O.F.M.’s “Friar Jack’s E-spirations.” To read the full text, or to subscribe to this popular, free e-newsletter, go to: http://www.americancatholic.org/e-News/FriarJack/default.asp