This Contemplative Life.

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This is a collection of some of my posts from the blog They are mostly based on a kind of meditation I developed while a novice monk with the contemplative Carthusian Order.

During the long night offices I would hold a text in my mind while listening to the chant and the readings. Back in my cell I would jot down some of the thoughts that occurred to me. During the day I would hold these thoughts in my mind and eventually write them down in the form of a brief written reflection. This is basically the same sort of process I now apply to my blogging.

In this collection you will find thoughts about Scipture texts and their deeper meaning. Also some series I did about Christian Meditation, Buddhism and Mary in the New Testament. Mostly I look at how to deepen spirituality so that we can enter into a Divine Union with God.

The Blessed Virgin Mary plays a big role in my contemplative life so you will find much about her in here. May her prayers and guidance help us all to come in love to her Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

A Gentle and Peaceful Spirit

3 Your adornment should be not an exterior one, consisting of braided hair or gold jewellery or fine clothing,

4 but the interior disposition of the heart, consisting in the imperishable quality of a gentle and peaceful spirit, so precious in the sight of God.

1 Peter 3

This comes from the advice that St Peter gives to Christian wives. If I was offering a literal response to the passage then I would be obliged to explain it, if I were a Conservative, or explain it away, if I were a Liberal. Since I am responding to it at a spiritual level then I can cheerfully ignore these vexed questions altogether. I have, I think, some warrant for doing so. Ancient Christian tradition has characterised a number of things as feminine. The soul of each believer, male or female, is referred to as 'she' with the notion that the soul is a bride to the bridegroom Jesus. The Church too is often referred to in similar terms. Scripture itself characterises Wisdom as a woman (Proverbs 8) And, of necessity, Mary the Mother of God is a woman. So it is reasonable to suppose that these words from the Prince of Apostles have universal applicability.

The central point of the passage is, I would suggest, to be found in the words the imperishable quality of a gentle and peaceful spirit . These qualities are the leaven which leavens the whole disposition of the Christian heart which is adorned by them. It is an interior beauty which bears fruit not only in the relationship between a person and their God but also in the outward actions of that person-

The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good

Luke 6

A peaceful spirit is not only one that is peaceable and at peace she is also peace itself. She manifests her peaceableness through deeds and words. A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Proverbs 15) Where voices are raised she speaks softly, where tempers are hot she is cool, when demands are insistent she is undemanding. She serves peace before she serves herself. She is at peace because wherever she is and whatever she is doing she has within herself what St Catherine of Siena called the interior cell into which she can retire at will. Catherine suggested that the advice of Jesus would be this "Dearest children, if you wish to discover and experience the effects of My will, dwell within the cell of your soul" (Letter 41) A heart which communes with Jesus as with a friend cannot but be serene and still and at peace.

When asked by St Bernadette what her name was our Lady of Lourdes replied I am the Immaculate Conception (Que soy era Immaculada Concepciou.) She might have said 'I am she who was immaculately conceived' but she did not. This suggests that there was such an inextricable link between herself as a person and the phenomenon of the Immaculate Conception that the two could be identified as one. When I say that a peaceful spirit is peace itself I am suggesting a similar identity between the spirit and the phenomenon. This would be hyperbole if we were merely to consider the spirit of a person as being both unique to them and wholly independent (autonomous in the favoured word of our era.) But we cannot so consider a person. Unique, yes certainly. Wholly independent, no, never. A person is always in bondage either to their desires in this world or to the transcendent love who is ever present in all worlds and times. And she who casts herself unreservedly as a bride into her beloved Divine Bridegroom's arms becomes one person with Him. As He is peace itself in His essence she becomes peace itself through participation in Him. As St John of the Cross put it-

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