The Vatican

Pope: there is no contradiction between contemplation and action

Contemplation has sometimes been seen as opposed to action and works of charity, but this dualism does not belong to the Christian message, Francis clarified at the general audience on May 5.

Maria José Atienza-May 5, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes

A presumed opposition between contemplation and action does not belong to the Christian message, and possibly comes from the influence of Neoplatonic philosophers. This was explained by the Pope at the general audience, which once again took place in a non-presential manner, broadcast from the Apostolic Library.

In reality, in the Gospel there is but a single call, "to follow Jesus on the way of love. This is the apex and the center of everything". Considered in this way, "charity and contemplation are synonymous, they say the same thing".

Contemplative prayer was the central theme of the Pope's address during the audience. The starting point was the contemplative dimension of human life, which in the natural sphere is already reflected in a gaze at the world around us that comes more from the heart than from the eyes, and is more a way of being than a way of doing. This natural gaze is not yet prayer, but prayer also participates in this contemplative dimension.

The contemplative dimension of prayer clarifies our gaze and allows us to accept reality with a different perspective, which is a perspective of faith. For this reason, it allows us to see reality with different eyes, and consists above all in a feeling of being looked at with love. In this context, the Pope recalled what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in n. 2715: "Contemplative prayer is the gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus", and also the words of the peasant who prayed before the tabernacle to the holy Curé of Ars: "I look at him and he looks at me".

"Jesus was the master of this gaze"; "his secret was the relationship with the heavenly Father", which he cared for with the necessary times, spaces and silences. A particularly revealing example is the scene of the Transfiguration, where "the light of the Father's love, which fills the Son's heart and transfigures his whole Person" is shown.

At the end of his address, the Pope greeted the faithful in several languages. To the Spanish-speaking faithful he made a suggestion that concretized his words on contemplation: "I encourage you to take a break and go to the nearest church, to sit for a while in front of the tabernacle. Let yourselves behold the infinite and patient love of Jesus, who awaits you there, and contemplate him with the eyes of faith and love. He will speak many things to your heart.

He encouraged everyone to join in the Rosary prayer that the Church throughout the world raises to God in this month of May, as in a network, to ask for an end to the pandemic. On this Wednesday, May 5, he is leading this prayer at the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in Namyang, South Korea.

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