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Christian Prayer

651

emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter,

in poverty and in faith.

2711

Entering into contemplative prayer

is like entering into the Eu­

charistic liturgy: we “gather up” the heart, recollect our whole being

under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place

of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the

presence of him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our

hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to

him as an offering to be purified and transformed.

2712

Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the child of God, of

the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is

loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more.

8

But

he knows that the love he is returning is poured out by the Spirit

in his heart, for everything is grace from God. Contemplative

prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the

Father in ever deeper union with his beloved Son.

2713

Contemplative prayer is the simplest expression of the

mystery of prayer. It is a

gift,

a grace; it can be accepted only in

humility and poverty. Contemplative prayer is a

covenant

relation­

ship established by God within our hearts.

9

Contemplative prayer

is a

communion

in which the Holy Trinity conforms man, the image

of God, “to his likeness.”

2714

Contemplative prayer is also the pre-eminently

intense

time

of prayer. In it the Father strengthens our inner being with

power through his Spirit “that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts

through faith” and we may be “grounded in love.”

10

2715

Contemplation is a

gaze

of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at

him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars in the

time of his holy curé used to say while praying before the taberna­

cle. This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our

heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes

of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth

and his compassion for all men. Contemplation also turns its gaze

on the mysteries of the life of Christ. Thus it learns the “interior

knowledge of our Lord,” the more to love him and follow him.

11

8 Cf.

Lk

7:36-50; 19:1-10.

9 Cf.

Jer

31:33.

10

Eph

3:16-17.

11 Cf. St. Ignatius of Loyola,

Spiritual Exercises,

104.

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