Reflect on these principles after you’ve spent some time in silence.
  • Silence is praise. (Psalm 65:1 translated literally)
    Contemplation is not a practice or a technique; it is a way of seeing, of listening and of paying attention, that is grounded in silence. Silence is more than just the absence of sound, it is the presence of the open present moment, where we make ourselves available to attend to God. This attentiveness is an actual form of praise, of worship.
  • Know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19)
    Contemplation begins in love and takes us beyond thought or knowledge, leading us to that place where we recognize God’s presence in our lives, empowering us to love God and one another, to find meaning in suffering, and to remain grounded in hope and joy.
  • The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist. (Karl Rahner)
    We are all called to contemplation. Silent prayer is not just for nuns or monks, priests or ministers, saints or visionaries. It’s for all of us. Christianity is in crisis today at least in part because the church has abandoned its contemplative heritage. It is vital that we reclaim that heritage for ourselves and for the future.
  • Contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit. (Archbishop Rowan Williams)
    Contemplative living provides an alternative to the forces in life that foster consumerism, materialism, low self-worth, and environmental degradation. Contemplation helps us to create a happier, healthier life. It is a spiritual discipline, but even more than that: it is a way of putting our faith into action, with practical, and even social, ramifications.
  • Contemplatives explore the waste of their own being. It is in the midst of chaos and crisis that they pursue the vision of God and experience the conflict which is at the core of the contemplative search. (Kenneth Leech)
    Contemplation is not an escape from the messiness of life. Rather, it is a fearless entry into life’s “chaos and crisis” so that we might foster healing, renewal, and wellness for our selves, our relationships, and our world.
  • Contemplative practice is not a technique but a surrendering of deeply imbedded resistances that allows the sacred within gradually to reveal itself as a simple, fundamental fact. (Martin Laird)
    What Orthodox Christianity calls theosis is the summit of the spiritual life: the recognition that “God and I are not two” and that our destiny as children of God is nothing less than union with God.
  • Truly, you are a God who hides yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior (Isaiah 45:15).
    There’s an old cheap criticism of mysticism which suggests “it begins in mist, ends in schism, and is centered on ‘I’.” But in fact, authentic Christian mysticism begins in mystery, ends in community, and is centered in Christ.
  • For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord (Isaiah 55:8).
    Faith is more than just “thinking the right thoughts,” it’s living a sacred life — of silence, prayer, and compassion. We can think all the right thoughts and still have hearts devoid of love. Better to admit we don’t have it all figured out, but that we seek to love the way God loves, for after all, God is love.
  • The mystic is not a special kind of person; each person is a special kind of mystic(William McNamara).
    Contemplation is not about conforming to an external norm but about discovering our unique identity in Christ.
  • Mysticism brings about new ways of knowing and loving based on states of awareness in which God is present not as an object to be comprehended, but as the direct and transforming center of our lives. (Harvey D. Egan)
    Contemplation (and mysticism) are not about “experience” but rather point to a transfigured consciousness which enables us to love as God loves and to bring God’s presence to the world.
  • Contemplative leadership is relational, rooted in prayerful attentiveness and open to the overflowing energies of the Loving Presence, moment by moment, enlivening the interdependent creative and healing possibilities of our world. (Tilden Edwards)
    Being a contemplative means more than just personal development. It fosters a revolutionary way of leading and collaborating with others, in which the “Loving Presence” inspires us to creativity, compassion, and engaged activism in the service of justice and love.
  • While keeping their identity intact, Christians must be prepared to learn and to receive from and through others the positive values of their traditions. (Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue)
    In the contemplative life, no one is an island — nor is any one religious tradition. Christian contemplation finds that fidelity to Christ is deepened, not threatened, by respectful engagement with the contemplative traditions of other faiths.