Contemplation as a foundation or a pillar means three things. First, we are a community dedicated in a particular way to prayer. Other communities have various apostolates such as teaching, health care, or missionary work. While they have prayer as an important part of their day, the majority of their time is spent in active ministry. As a contemplative community, the majority of our day is dedicated to prayer, while a lesser portion is spent in active ministry.
A second understanding of contemplation is that it is an all-encompassing state of being. It is not just the type of community we are, but an all-encompassing way state of being. This “way of being” extends beyond the formal times of prayer and embraces all that we are and do. It is a way of seeking God in all we do; seeking to be aware of His Presence. He is with us always. As contemplatives, we desire to be lovingly attentive to His abiding Presence, docile to His guidance and generous in responding to His desires.
The third aspect of our contemplative vocation is expressed in a specific, though unstructured, form of prayer. During our six and a half hours of prayer each day there are various types of prayer that we use. There are periods of communal and vocal prayers (like the Rosary), liturgical prayers, and silent prayer. During the silent times we try to follow our Lord’s guidance for us personally. Silent periods are our opportunity to become more deeply aware of God’s indwelling Presence. We can quiet our minds and hearts in order to rest in His Presence. It is a time to simply commune with Him in stillness and peace. There are many ways to enter the innermost tabernacle of our souls (that “place” where we can simply be with Him). Each person discovers with our Lord the way that works best for them. As we surrender to His love and mercy He faithfully guides each soul to the innermost recesses of His own Heart. There we are enriched deeply from the abundance of His goodness. This type of prayer is called contemplation.