Contemplation

Episode 4 - Contemplative Prayer with Visual Images and Transformation

Here is an in-depth explanation of how to do meditation and contemplation with sacred art, and how it helps to transform us in preparation for the highest prayer - liturgical prayer. 

As you pray, keep in mind two sayings:

'Success in prayer is not measured by how we feel during the prayer, but from the work we put in', and 'in spiritual matters, it is in the trying that we are successful.'

Remember also, the spiritual life is about happiness, but while meditation and contemplation can be very pleasant experiences, they can also be dry and distracted. If we give this our best shot, it will contribute to our general happiness not simply to a feeling during the prayer itself. 

Here we go!

I start by doing a short meditation of gratitude - in which I list 10 or so items from the day that are good and thank God for them; and a review of conscience in which I look at my resentments and fears, acknowledge my sins and ask for forgiveness (see the daily routine in The Vision for You book).

1. Exclamation: Blessed be God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three persons and one God. 

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Praise: Psalm 116 (117) O praise the Lord all ye nations, praise him all ye peoples, for his merciful kindness is more and more toward us; and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. 

Penitence: Lord have mercy (3 times) 

Petition: Father, may the Holy Spirit lead me to Jesus, in Jesus Name, Amen. 

Prayer from the heart: Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions). Repeat this prayer as a way of eliminating distraction. If thoughts occur during let the good ones go through to their resolution and even be ready to write it down if its something worth remembering. If it is a bad thought, refocus on the Jesus prayer.

At the end of these eight meditations, I pray an extended period of contemplation. I set the clock to 15 minutes and repeat the Jesus prayer again (I will mention this at the end also).

2. Exclamation: Blessed be God, in His angels and in His Saints.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Oh you saints and angels in heaven, pray for me to Lord our God, that I may have all that I desire most deeply and all that is good for me, but only in accordance with His will. Father, hear our prayers, in Jesus Name, Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

3. Exclamation: Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Mary, Mother of God, please show me your Son. Pray for me to the Lord our God, that I may have all that I most deeply desire, and all that is good for me, but only in accordance with His will. Father, hear our prayers, in Jesus Name, Amen.

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

4. Exclamation: Blessed be Jesus Christ, True God, and True Man. Behold the Lamb of God.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Oh God, take away my sins and the fears and resentments that arise from them. Let me die with you spiritually through baptism Amen. In Jesus' name, Amen

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

5. Exclamation: Blessed be Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, my Lord and my God.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Oh God, let me rise spiritually through confirmation and through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, Amen

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

6. Exclamation: Blessed be Jesus Christ, ascended into heaven and seated at the right hand of the Father, and the Holy Spirit the Paraclete descending upon us.

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              An alternative image might be Pentecost

Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Oh God, let me partake of the divine nature and enter into the mystery of the Trinity through the Eucharist in the sure and certain hope of bodily resurrection after death. In Jesus' name, Amen

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

7. Blessed be God, Our Father in Heaven whom I behold through Jesus in the Spirit.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Petition: Oh Father, grant all that I deeply desire and all that is good for me in accordance with your will. In Jesus' name Amen

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

8. Blessed be Jesus Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church, transfigured and shining with uncreated light.

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              Psalm 116 (117), Lord have mercy (3 times)

Oh God, let me shine with the Light of Christ as I go out into the world that I may draw others to you, for their joy and peace and Your greater glory. In Jesus name, Amen

              Lord Jesus Christ Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner (8 repetitions)

Extended contemplation: Then the contemplation stage begins. I always repeat Jesus Prayers as described in order to eliminate distraction, while being alert to other thoughts that crop into my mind. I follow the good trains of thought and if necessary write things down so that I can remember them afterwards. If bad thoughts occur I focus more on the repetition of the Jesus Prayer.

Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Book: The Wellspring of Worship by Jean Corbon.

Book: The Spirit of the Liturgy by Benedict XVI