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Contemplative Prayer and God's Creation

By Fr. James Farfaglia
January 14th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Taking the time to turn off the computer and the cell phone, and to enter into nature will help us find the serenity and the peace that we long for. 

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - One of the busiest times of the year for a parish priest are the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas.  I have always believed that a Catholic parish is not simply a place to go to Mass, put some money in the basket and then leave.  A parish must be a vibrant community where the Catholic Faith is celebrated fully.

Hispanics, like other strong ethnic communities, delight in living out Catholicism with joy. 

At Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with beautiful liturgies and lots of delicious food and music after each Mass.  Then, beginning on the evening of December 16, we celebrated each of the nine Las Posadas throughout the neighborhoods of our parish. 

This year, I thoroughly enjoyed building a large outdoor manger scene, and I was very moved by the devotion of my parishioners as I invited them to venerate the Christ Child after all of the principle Masses of the Christmas season. 

It is time now to return to our discussion on contemplative prayer, a topic that interests me greatly. 

To my critics who think that I am writing about New Age or Buddhism, I found this beautiful quote from an excellent book on contemplative prayer. 

"Contemplation is the immediately transforming and directly consuming activity of God himself with the soul calling forth its voluntary undergoing of that transformation and purgation in love and faith.  It is a silent, imageless and loving communion with God himself which transcends all discursiveness.  Contemplation is none other than a secret, peaceful and loving infusion of God which, if the soul allows it to happen, enflames it in the spirit of love.  Most simply, contemplation is being loved by God himself from within oneself and loving him with all one's being in return: Estarse amando al Amado - "Remembering loving one's Beloved" (Contemplation by Frances Kelly Nemeck, O.M.I. and Marie Theresa Coombs, Hermit, pp. 39-40).

Just as centering prayer and lectio divina are proven methods that predispose the soul to receive, from the Holy Spirit, the awesome gift of contemplative prayer, so is our immersion into God's creation.

"When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place- What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him little less than a god, crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8: 4-6). 

Finding silence and solitude in the mountains, the woods and along the ocean provide a backdrop for a profound experience of God. 

Brief or prolonged periods of silence and solitude within nature are very healthy.  Most of us live hyperactive lives filled with noise and endless deadlines. 

Taking the time to turn off the computer and the cell phone, and to enter into nature will help us find the serenity and the peace that we long for. 

"But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being" (Job 12: 7-10).

Finding God in nature will renew us so that we can fulfill the duties of our own particular calling with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

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Father James Farfaglia is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  You can visit him on the web at www.fatherjames.org.

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