“The Spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings to perfection those who are making progress. He enlightens those who have been cleansed from every stain of sin and makes them spiritual by communion with himself.” (St. Basil the Great. The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume II, Lenten and Easter Season. p.975).
These words by St. Basil are a great meditation for us on the subject of contemplative prayer. They remind us that contemplative prayer is a work of the Holy Spirit when we are open to the Spirit’s work in our hearts. It is the Spirit of the Living God who lifts us beyond our senses and gives us a vision of God and all things as God sees them.
Through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, we have been made anew by the grace of God through Christ. As St. Basil writes, the Spirit then makes us spiritual by communion with the Spirit. There is a reason why union is the end of the word communion. The whole word implies that we are no longer an entity unto ourselves. We are joined with the Community of all that is in Heaven and on earth in a loving, holy and mystical relationship that is the working of the Holy Spirit. It is an intimate and life-giving union with God and one another.
In contemplative prayer, we experience the union with God that St. Benedict tells us to search for. It is a union with God in all times, people and places. Even those that seem to us that God must be absent. Such as our hearts and lives shattered by disappointment, losses and despair. Even there the Holy Spirit can reach us and turn our mourning into a joy that cannot be expressed in human words. It is the Holy Spirit giving us new life where we were dead, hope where there was none and grace where it seemed all was lost.
May we seek to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit to see, know and love God anew as God reveals God’s Self to us and to others.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB