Contemplative Christians live by seven simple words.
The first four are our gift to God. They make room for God in a world whose culture is ever more hostile to Him.
In silence we make room for God in a world that is far too noisy, just to be with Him. Silence best focuses our heart and mind and affections on loving God, and when He chooses to speak we are better able to hear His voice.
In Silence there is peace beyond comprehension.
In Solitude we make room for God in a far too social crowded world that pushes Him to the sidelines. Our society is at war with being alone and imposes upon us the curse of constant connectedness. But we can choose the joy of being alone . . . with God.
In Solitude my spirit soars.
In Simplicity we best make room for God in a world that is far too cluttered, complicated and competitive. Our consumer culture demands we continually acquire; God calls us to release and relinquish. Having too many things can crowd Him out. Sometimes less is more and enables us to enjoy more of Him.
In Simplicity my mind and body are free.
In Stillness we make room for God to be present in a far too busy world. Stillness quiets our mind and helps us cease from our own busyness and labors. Moments when we are still, stopping all of our activity, we give Him time and opportunity to work.
In Stillness I experience great healing and the Joy of God's Presence.
Each of these is our gift to God.
The Scriptures and the Sacraments are His gift to us.
In the Scriptures we find absolute eternal immutable truth in a world governed by the uncertainty of moral relativism. Second, in His Word we most clearly hear the clear voice of God. Third, these are the words of eternal life, delight and nourishment for our soul.
In the Scriptures I walk with God in the wonder of the Word.
In the Sacraments we have a physical connection between God and man. During the celebration of the Eucharist the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ through which we receive life.
In the Sacraments God comes most near to me. In the Presence of the Sacrament I am most near to God.
Servanthood is our response to God's gifts.
In servanthood we respond not to the demands of the situation or the urgency of the hour but having heard His voice we respond to His call. We do only what we see Him do and say only what we hear Him say. We cooperate with His plans, and watch Him work. He and I walk together through the things He would have me do.
In Servanthood I can live free and have no opinions of my own.
And as you can see there is an eighth, (Suffering). I place it in brackets. I isolate it. It stands alone. It does not feel like a gift from God, nor does it feel like my offering to Him. But it is an inevitable to which we all must respond, and our response determines how well we fulfill our destiny.
The Holy Place
The Old Testament Tabernacle in the Wilderness was made according the the pattern of the Tabernacle in the Heavenlies. It was divided into:
- the Outer Court which was the place of cleansing at the Bronze Altar and Bronze Laver,
- the Holy Place where by the light of the Menorah the priest ate from the Table of Shewbread and worshipped at the Altar of Incense, and
- the Holy of Holies where the Glory of God was manifest between the Cherubum, over the Mercy Seat which covered the Ark of the Covenant.
During Silent Contemplative Prayer we enter the Holy Place in our heart - focussing our mind, affections and emotions on loving Him. Each lamp of the Menorah represents one of the seven facets of Contemplative Christianity: Silence, Solitude, Stillness, Simplicity, Scriptures, Sacraments, and Servanthood. At the Altar we offer our prayer and praise, sweetened by the Incense ("beaten very small" Ex. 30:36) of our response to Suffering. There we await His invitation to enter beyond the Veil into the Holy of Holiess.
All are not called to a full time Contemplative Life, but all are blessed who include moments of Contemplative discipline in their life. Yours may not be a radical Simplicity, but the more you simplify the better your life and the better your life in God. You may not regularly spend days in Solitude, but moments of Solitude have great benefit. You may not spend hours a day in Silent Contemplative Prayer, but ten minutes in Silence before God will be transformative.