The Necessity of Contemplation and the Word of God

September 18, 2023

Anyone with a neophyte understanding of the Word of God should not be surprised that the language encountered in Sacred Scripture is self-revealing. This means that God has chosen to reveal himself through the human senses and more specifically through His own words. A premise behind the Word of God is to penetrate our minds and hearts as the first stage of immersing ourselves in our relationship with Him. It also means the first instance of contemplation on how God speaks to us both through Word and Deed.

The Word of God is intimately associated with salvation because the language we encounter in Sacred Scripture is aimed to reveal God’s love for us through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. God’s narrative of love compels us I argue to embrace and teach from His Word and disseminate the fruit of His Word to those who will listen. Our response to this entire salvific drama requires a willingness to believe in His message of salvation confirmed through Jesus Christ, but also assent to His will

Part of our spiritual assent involves the gift of grace which allows us to freely respond to our vocation to know, love, and serve Him as his children. Grace always accompanies revelation which strengthens our ability to say “Yes Lord, I believe” and serves as the basis for our assent to the Creed, and our embrace of both the Word of God and the Creed as the inseparable union that nourishes us to understand and contemplate the will of God in our daily lives.

The Necessity to Contemplate the Word of God

A particular characteristic of the Word of God is the gift of providence or what God has done for us. Within the entire plan of salvation, we encounter God providing for us (Ex 3:1-7), interceding on our behalf (Rom 8:26-27), and nourishing our intellect and will (Acts 2:37-42; Col 3:1-3). These realities of faith provide us with the opportunity to seek a relationship with God and the urge to learn and contemplate how to live a life in accord with His will through the logos, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.   

Contemplation by definition means the ability to direct our mind and heart in silence to contemplate the goodness of God, this act of faith can be interpreted as an act of adoration reflecting on God through the life of Jesus Christ the Son with a loving faith. The Catechism describes the act of contemplation as follows:

Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the tabernacle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him (CCC 2715).

The ability to contemplate the Word of God as expressed through the solemn practice of Lectio Divina is to spiritually dive into the Word of God, meditating in silence, and reflecting on how God communicates to us out of love and how Jesus Christ profoundly moves us to conform our lives to his. Again, the Catechism provides insight into this approach:

Contemplative prayer is hearing the Word of God. Far from being passive, such attentiveness is the obedience of faith, the unconditional acceptance of a servant, and the loving commitment of a child. It participates in the “Yes” of the Son become servant and the Fiat of God’s lowly handmaid (CCC 2716).

The ability to contemplate the Word of God is I argue a necessary spiritual practice to strengthen our awareness of both God’s presence in our lives but also how much he loves us. We encounter this love in His son Jesus Christ the Word made flesh who conquered sin and death and became one of us for us to become partakers of the divine nature (CCC 460) providing us with the opportunity to become united with Him for all eternity.

Now you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the Sacred Writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:10-17).






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