This miniseries offers an introduction to or a school for contemplative prayer based on the five key words of a brief presentation by Fr. Armand Nigro S.J., “Contemplative Prayer Anywhere, Anytime, especially with Scripture” (1).
We have integrated in this series also five aspects of the prayer of the heart or of inner peace or “hesychia” of the Orthodox spirituality as presented in Jean-Yves Leloup’s “Notes on Hesychasm” (2). The convergence of the prayer traditions of East and West, as we discover the shared roots of the contemplative prayer and of the prayer of the heart illustrates the healthy union of the “two lungs” of the Church John Paul II and Metropolitan John of Pergamon spoke about: “East and West are the two lungs by which the Church breaths; their unity is essential to the healthy life of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” (3).
To these five key words and aspects of contemplative prayer we added a sixth one, specific for a married couple praying together. Altogether this gives you “five easy pieces” plus a bonus piece to practice.
We don’t want to offer more reading on the subject of prayer, instead to offer an occasion to experience prayer. For this reason each part of our series will constitute just a short introduction to a different aspect of contemplative prayer. The rest of it will depend on you “doing” regular effort and spending time in quiet contemplation.
The best way of learning prayer is praying itself, so we want not to give you just a reading about contemplative prayer, but we want to encourage you to practice each aspect or way of praying, arrive to a contemplative experience. The time spent with each aspect of prayer is determined by how much you need to get an experience with God. So we exhort you to stay with each part of the series until you feel that you achieved the experience of God you searched and are ready to move further to another way of prayer (4).
1. BE WITH GOD AND FOR GOD! PRAY LIKE A MOUNTAIN!
2. WANT GOD!…. PRAY LIKE A RED POPPY!
3. LISTEN TO GOD! PRAY LIKE THE OCEAN!
4. LET GOD! ... PRAY LIKE A BIRD!
5. RESPOND TO GOD! PRAY LIKE JESUS!
6. MAKE GOD PRESENT IN THE WORLD! PRAY AS A COUPLE!
(1) We thank Father Nigro for giving us this manuscript on his method of contemplative prayer.
(2) Jean-Yves Leloup is an Orthodox theologian, philosopher and psychologist, founder of the Institute of Other Civilization Studies and the International College of Therapists, see http://www.jeanyvesleloup.com/ . (You will notice that in Orthodox writings “meditation” corresponds to the “contemplative prayer” of Western authors: both meaning quiet prayer of simplicity and not reasoning on a subject during the prayer time).
(3) Speech of John Paul II Made in private audience following a Mass to celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Rome, 28 June 1998; source http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/ecumenical/john_pergamon_john_paul2.htm
(4) Watching the documentary of the German filmmaker Philip Gröning, “Into Great Silence” on the monks of the Grande Chartreuse could be a strong experience in itself that we recommend as a help to raise the desire for deeper encounter with God in all things.