A few months ago, I sat in mass hearing in the gospel the words of our Lord, “I praise you Father, for what you have hidden from the wise and the learned, you have revealed to the merest children.” Our priest mentioned in the homily that the Greek word for “child” means “wordless”, because of how children who are very little do not know how to speak. I praise you Father, for what you have hidden from the wise and the learned, you have revealed to the “wordless”.
Is it not true that when souls spend time silently before our Lord, they understand something of Him beyond what those who spend their time exclusively studying Him do? That those who spend time in His quiet company know Him in a deeper way than theological scholars who do not?
Mother Teresa in a letter she once wrote to her spiritual children probed, “We may spend time in chapel–but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus–not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Never give up this intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person–not just the idea . . . Jesus wants you each to hear Him–speaking in the silence of your heart.” (March 25, 1993)
This is what contemplative prayer is. In eloquent simplicity, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “Contemplative prayer is silence . . . or silent love.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church # 2717) While meditation and vocal prayers are invaluable and needed, the Catechism goes on to say that prayer should go beyond them: from “the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him” in contemplation. (CCC #2708)
Though the word “contemplation” sounds like a level of prayer impossible to reach, the opposite is true. It does not require words, writings, or a certain place. It is simply silently keeping Him company with an exchange of quiet love between hearts. Our holy Church regarding contemplation says “One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and faith . . . We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed.” (CCC #2710, #2711)
It is in this loving attentiveness–this state of the heart having domain and the mind being quieted–that our gentle Lord reveals Himself and expands the understanding of our hearts. As good as it is to seek our personal progress, and understanding of His mysteries, wisdom and truth, we must not fail to seek before that our Lord Himself. First pursue Him, directing your hopes and efforts towards union with Him, and you will find the mysteries, truth and beauty that He Himself is.
Come to Him “wordless”, letting your presence speak to Him, and letting His presence speak profoundly to you.
—By Sr. Maria, Servant of Abba Father, OSIHJM