Some people have difficulty relating to a spirituality that is contemplative. Some people have difficulty comprehending the meaning of spiritual versus religion. Not all that is contemplative is Cistercian, but all that is Cistercian is most definitely contemplative.

Here are some of my ideas about the meaning of contemplative.

  • It is a way that I approach the Sacred.
  • Contemplation happens in the depths of my self.
  • I approach the meaning of life by a look at reality in terms of wonder, moving from self to God, expanding the “capicitas dei” (my capacity to approach the Sacred). I do this through Cistercian practices and charisms, although I am not limited exclusively to this approach.
  • My assumption is that I use what I learned from Cistercian spirituality to define contemplative.
  • Contemplative means five areas of emphasis to help me approach the Sacred: silence, solitude, work, prayer, community.
  • The contemplative approach to life is not to worry about converting the world but rather convert yourself from false self to a new self.
  • Contemplative practices are those which place your heart next to the heart of Christ and then get out of the way.
  • Contemplative practices require the skill of listening more than talking and demanding what you want.
  • Reflecting on what Christ meant when he said, “love one another as I have loved you” is part of contemplation.
  • Contemplative may mean solitude in the midst of a community of faith.
  • For me, as a Lay Cistercian, it means approaching the Sacred in the Mystery of Faith in the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, reflections on the Rosary, Lectio Divina, Spiritual Reading, Reading Scripture, Reading Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict every day.
  • Contemplative means preferring nothing to the love of Christ. (Chapter 4)
  • The contemplative approach is not something that is beyond our capabilities or our capacity. It actually increases the capacity for God in our hearts.


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