Be contemplative to be realistic PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 01 May 2015 15:09

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

There are certain myths that we need to get rid of. One of them is that to lead a contemplative life practically takes one out of reality. Hardly anything can be farther than the truth.

It is precisely when one is truly contemplative that he gets a good grasp of reality. He becomes more objective and his vision and understanding of things in general would be more complete. That’s simply because, to put it bluntly, he is more in a position to see things the way God, the Creator and our Father and the ultimate measure of reality, sees them.

He just does not depend on his senses. Though he uses them to the full, he goes much further than what sense data would provide him. Not even does he depend only on his intelligence that already can penetrate into the essence of things and can transcend from the sensible to the intelligible in all their forms and possibilities.

He uses his faith, activating it in a working life of piety and contemplation. Faith is a gift from God given to us in abundance and that sheds the best light we can get to see, know and understand things. This is where God shares what he knows with us.

To be sure, to be contemplative does not do away with the senses and our intelligence. Our need and use of faith in our contemplative life will never do away with our senses and intelligence. It, in fact, makes use of them to the max, but goes much further.

So to be contemplative never means that one isolates and detaches himself from the world. The contrary is true. It makes one more immersed in the world. Its interest is never limited but rather is open to the all developments in the world.

Obviously, given our human condition, we will always have a particular or specific viewpoint and interest, but it’s an angle that is open to the universal reality. A contemplative life that is not open to the whole reality is not a genuine contemplative life.

In fact, a true contemplative will always feel the need to know more about other fields that he is not familiar with. He would at least have an open mind, willing to listen and learn from them. Thus, he would always feel the need to be versatile and adaptable. He avoids being rigid and one-track-minded.

His desire to know more about persons will be insatiable. His knowledge of persons would always deepen and expand. He is not contented with knowing them superficially. He has to probe the mystery that each person is, guided by his faith and love of God that would drive him to do so.

This need can only be satisfied when one is truly humble. Humility makes one always realize his inadequacy and possibility to know more and learn more. A proud person simply does not feel this, and tends to say enough and stop knowing more.

And while it’s true that due to our human condition, our limitations and those of the world, we need to distance ourselves from time to time from the world to be able to meditate and contemplate, it’s an exercise that is meant to enhance our immersion both in God and in the world.

A contemplative always feels the need to be recollected to make sure that faith leads the way instead of the senses and the intelligence simply leading the way. We cannot deny that the latter always have the tendency to dominate. That tendency is simply an indication of our deeply embedded pride and vanity that are always our problem.

That’s why to be a contemplative will always involve some self-denial. No one can be a contemplative unless he knows how to discipline and put his senses and intelligence in their proper place. It is a self-denial that would lead him to vividly feel the push of faith and love of God to immerse himself in the lives of others and in the world in general.

This is not an easy thing to do, since we will always have to contend with the tricks of our weakened flesh that wants to dominate us, not to mention the wiles of our wayward world and the devil.

But we also have ways to cope with this predicament. We can deepen our humility, grow in our skill at spiritual warfare, polish the art of always rectifying our intentions and correcting ourselves whenever we find ourselves in error.

Yes, to be truly contemplative would make us more in touch with reality.