Greetings! I’m engaged in a mini-debate on a protestant end-times forum. The person I’m debating with had linked to a site that listed all the ways the “emergent church” movement was corrupting Christianity. Among the dangers he listed as coming from the “emergent church” movement were things like contemplative prayer. I disagreed, and used the example of contemplating the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The other person chided me for choosing that image:
When I think about those things I get emotional & saddened but why not meditate upon the defeat of Satan @ the Cross? Envision the King of Kings and Lord of Lords sitting upon His throne getting ready to kick some petuti & establish His kingdom on earth?
She then linked to the Lighthouse Trails Research Project page on “Contemplative Prayer” and asked if that was what I was thinking about. I have to admit, it was not. I mean, there was some good stuff there from Thomas Merton, but there was also stuff from some Bhuddist writers and some Catholic writers that I believe are now considered suspect. I then saw their definition of Contemplative Spirituality:
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all).
It bothers me that they are listing numerous Catholic mystics as “Christian” mystics (including St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross) and appear to be throwing all contemplative spirituality out with the bathwater. It bothered me even more that I could not come up with a definition for my friend on how I grew up with Contemplative Spirituality from a Catholic viewpoint that shows it’s different from what this LTRP is saying.
Then it struck me: when I first thought about contemplative prayer, I thought about the Crucifix, with the body of a suffering Christ affixed to it. Her response was to “accentuate the positive” (as it were.) Could that be the difference, in that Catholic contemplation nd spirituality as a whole does have an emphasis on suffering?
So my question is this: Does the Catholic emphasis on suffering (or rather, on the loving acceptance of suffering) as an essential part of Catholic spirituality make Catholic contemplative spirituality fundamentally different from what the Protestants see as contemplative spirituality?