Contemplative Salvation


#1

Now I understand Church teaching of salvation by grace through faith/faith and works.
And Jesus tells us “whatever you did to the least of my bretheran you did it to me” in His discourse on how one is to be saved.
Jesus emphasizes the corporeal works of mercy.
Now, I can certainly see this in the actives. They are the conduits of Christ’s mercy.
Now, a contemplative’s way of life is much different.
I guess what I’m getting at is, how is a contemplative saved when they don’t seem to…DO anything? For example, a monk living in a hermitage?

The answer I would give is that the sufferings they endure and the contemplative prayer do very much in the way of salvation not only for themselves but for others.

I suppose a clarification of salvation doctrine is in order because I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around this. The devil is certainly got me confused and I refuse to give in. he’s trying to keep me away from the contemplative way (interesting how he brings in these confusions right when I really begin to delve into contemplative prayer) by distracting me with this ‘how can it be’ issue.

Any help is much much appreciated!

God Bless!
Mordocai


#2

[quote=Mordocai]Now I understand Church teaching of salvation by grace through faith/faith and works.
And Jesus tells us “whatever you did to the least of my bretheran you did it to me” in His discourse on how one is to be saved.
Jesus emphasizes the corporeal works of mercy.
Now, I can certainly see this in the actives. They are the conduits of Christ’s mercy.
Now, a contemplative’s way of life is much different.
I guess what I’m getting at is, how is a contemplative saved when they don’t seem to…DO anything? For example, a monk living in a hermitage?

The answer I would give is that the sufferings they endure and the contemplative prayer do very much in the way of salvation not only for themselves but for others.

I suppose a clarification of salvation doctrine is in order because I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around this. The devil is certainly got me confused and I refuse to give in. he’s trying to keep me away from the contemplative way (interesting how he brings in these confusions right when I really begin to delve into contemplative prayer) by distracting me with this ‘how can it be’ issue.

Any help is much much appreciated!

God Bless!
Mordocai
[/quote]

We cannot earn our salvation, that’s not what the “works” is. We don’t “work for it” so much as “work it out.” Faith is what saves, but faith without works is dead, so if your faith doesn’t “work,” it isn’t capable of saving. The contemplative monk in a hermitage is living a life of prayer and sacrifice, he IS working, insofar as the whole of his life is his work of charity (love), thus demonstrating the “aliveness” or “operativeness” of his faith. He’s given up everything to follow Jesus. That’s what “works” are: the faithful and obedient following of Christ, every day. That’s what the Church posits against the Protestant heresy of “sola fide,” whether it’s mere belief or fiduciary trust.


#3

[quote=Mordocai]Now I understand Church teaching of salvation by grace through faith/faith and works.
And Jesus tells us “whatever you did to the least of my bretheran you did it to me” in His discourse on how one is to be saved.
Jesus emphasizes the corporeal works of mercy.
Now, I can certainly see this in the actives. They are the conduits of Christ’s mercy.
Now, a contemplative’s way of life is much different.
I guess what I’m getting at is, how is a contemplative saved when they don’t seem to…DO anything? For example, a monk living in a hermitage?

Any help is much much appreciated!

[/quote]

There are also the Spiritual Works of Mercy:
[list=1]
*] Admonish the Sinner
*] Instruct the Ignorant
*] Counsel the Doubtful
*] Comfort the Sorrowful
*] Bear Wrongs Patiently
*] Forgive All Injuries
*] Pray for the Living and the Dead
[/list]

Secondly, I am reminded of Anne Catherine Emmerich, who was a bedridden nun and mystic. She once complained she felt useless etc., but was scolded by her angel afterwards, and shown the value of her having borne sufferings patiently etc.

Finally, consider the life of St. Antony of the Desert. He was inspired by a sermon telling him to sell everything and follow Christ. He ended up living in the tombs of the desert for many years, and advancing in the spiritual life. Later he was a source of wisdom and holiness to others.

The contemplative life is the soul of the active life.

hurst


#4

[quote=Mordocai]Now I understand Church teaching of salvation by grace through faith/faith and works.
And Jesus tells us “whatever you did to the least of my bretheran you did it to me” in His discourse on how one is to be saved.
Jesus emphasizes the corporeal works of mercy.
Now, I can certainly see this in the actives. They are the conduits of Christ’s mercy.
Now, a contemplative’s way of life is much different.
I guess what I’m getting at is, how is a contemplative saved when they don’t seem to…DO anything? For example, a monk living in a hermitage?

The answer I would give is that the sufferings they endure and the contemplative prayer do very much in the way of salvation not only for themselves but for others.

I suppose a clarification of salvation doctrine is in order because I just can’t seem to wrap my mind around this. The devil is certainly got me confused and I refuse to give in. he’s trying to keep me away from the contemplative way (interesting how he brings in these confusions right when I really begin to delve into contemplative prayer) by distracting me with this ‘how can it be’ issue.

Any help is much much appreciated!

God Bless!
Mordocai
[/quote]

Salvation is not by faith and works in a way that the number of works you do really matters. Works are important in that they show your love and that they help to increase your love for God. It is not absolutely necessary that you do these active works for salvation. The contemplative prayer is a complete act of love for God. What is necessary is that you have love and that you are willing to sacrifice for God. The contemplative prayer is a complete act of love. It is simply avoiding all thoughts and praying with love for God. A contempative has given up all he has so that he can have communion with God.

I have actually been interested in the contemplative prayer lately as well.


#5

[quote=jimmy]Salvation is not by faith and works in a way that the number of works you do really matters. Works are important in that they show your love and that they help to increase your love for God. It is not absolutely necessary that you do these active works for salvation.

[/quote]

I would say that “works” includes works of the heart, namely desire. In this sense, such works are definitely required for salvation. We must take hold of the redemption Christ merited.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called, and hast confessed a good confession before many witnesses.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.

The active and contemplative life should not be separated. Vocal prayer is an active work, even as mental prayer is a contemplative one.

You see then, that perfect prayer is not attained to through many
words, but through affection of desire, the soul raising herself to Me, with knowledge of herself and of My mercy, seasoned the one with the other. Thus she will exercise together mental and vocal prayer, for, even as the active and contemplative life is one, so are they.

Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (p. 70)
catholicprimer.org/catherine/catherine_dialog.pdf

hurst


#6

[quote=hurst]I would say that “works” includes works of the heart, namely desire. In this sense, such works are definitely required for salvation. We must take hold of the redemption Christ merited.

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art called, and hast confessed a good confession before many witnesses.

Hebrews 3:6 But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.

[/quote]

Yeh I agree. You must love and desire complete union with God.

The active and contemplative life should not be separated. Vocal prayer is an active work, even as mental prayer is a contemplative one.

You see then, that perfect prayer is not attained to through many
words, but through affection of desire, the soul raising herself to Me, with knowledge of herself and of My mercy, seasoned the one with the other. Thus she will exercise together mental and vocal prayer, for, even as the active and contemplative life is one, so are they.

Dialogue of St. Catherine of Siena (p. 70)
catholicprimer.org/catherine/catherine_dialog.pdf

hurst

Can you give me a little more info on this? It seems that some of the mystics and contemplatives seperate the two. I just read The Cloud of Unknowing and noticed that the author seperates the two.


#7

St. Benedict calls the monks prayer times the “Work of God”,


#8

So, if one thinks that contemplative prayer has no merit…

…why would John the Baptist and Jesus go out “into the wilderness” for weeks and weeks of prayer and fasting? Sounds contemplative to me.

Peace,
javelin


#9

[quote=Mordocai]Now I understand Church teaching of salvation by grace through faith/faith and works.
And Jesus tells us “whatever you did to the least of my bretheran you did it to me” in His discourse on how one is to be saved.
Jesus emphasizes the corporeal works of mercy.
Now, I can certainly see this in the actives. They are the conduits of Christ’s mercy.
Now, a contemplative’s way of life is much different.
I guess what I’m getting at is, how is a contemplative saved when they don’t seem to…DO anything? For example, a monk living in a hermitage?

The answer I would give is that the sufferings they endure and the contemplative prayer do very much in the way of salvation not only for themselves but for others… . . .
[/quote]

It’s seems you’ve answered your own question, Mordocai. :slight_smile:

But to elaborate. . . :slight_smile:

It helps to consider the Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His ministry before His Death and Resurrection in order to gain a better understanding of the consistent witness of the Church to, first, the eremitical life, and then the monastic life.

Only Christ Jesus, since He is God and Man, was and is full of all the charisms of life that we could possibly imagine. In His graciousness He allows His brothers and sisters to reflect in their living of His way their own individual expressions of particular charisms. In Jesus’ life we see Him healing the sick, teaching, comforting the poor and the dying (the Good Thief), and praying to His Heavenly Father. So, among His brothers and sisters we see these same charisms reflected: some teach, some preach, some bring healing, some comfort the dying, etc., - all for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom; so, too, with prayer.

This dimension of the Christian life has far more power to it than most can possibly imagine and appreciate. When we speak of prayer we usually think of intercessory prayer, i.e., praying for ourselves, loved ones, and friends. Or we can speak of the prayers of praise and thanksgiving that reflect our debt to our Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is a deeper dimension to prayer, though, as we see in Scripture because there we are told that the Spirit Himself makes intercession within us. The Spirit “groans” with the hunger of love for the Body of Christ He is vivifying.

This hunger of love is what drew Christ to prayer, and continues to draw men and women throughout the ages to seek intimacy with God, offering their lives in an oblation of love to Him, so that the Kingdom of Christ will be seeded in the hearts of men and bear a fruitful harvest for the Master of the Harvest.

Some may think of this as a misguided use of one’s life. Why not go out into the world and bring it the knowledge of Christ in a very immediate way? Well, how necessary is the heart to the body? We have feet that can walk to foreign lands, hands that can touch and heal, mouths that can proclaim the Good News, but without a heart full of love all the functions of these parts will be misused. If the heart is not even beating than these parts are useless. So it is with the Body of Christ: some are the feet, some are the mouth, some are the hands – and some, the heart. This is monasticism. It is the heart of the Mystical Body of Christ, His Church. The zeal for Christ and the coming of His Kingdom burns brightly in these monastic “furnaces” of prayer. The power of this prayer made in union with Christ reverberates through the whole Body.

continued. . .


#10

The analogy of the body and the heart pumping blood to the various members enabling them to do their jobs and do them well is a very apt one for the monastic life of the Church. We cannot make the erroneous assumption that because some “work” – namely, the functioning of the heart – is not seen (by the unaided eye), that it, therefore, is of little or no use to the rest of the body. The same can be said of the function of the brain – wasn’t it the Egyptians who discarded the brain during the mummification of corpses because they didn’t see the use for it? If we look, though, at an EKG or EEG, or an X-ray, or do open-heart surgery, we can see very well the functions of these organs, though we may not understand them completely.

The same, again, is true of the man or woman who enters a monastery or is called to the life of a hermit. To the busy, work-oriented world (including the world of the Christianity) they may appear to be foggy-minded dreamers, at best, or lazy louts, at worst; but what are they to the “X-ray vision” of God? The Church recognizes that the prayer of these monastics and hermits is what gives power to the rest of the Body of Christ to function. Just as our work for the Lord must be formed and informed by prayer, so it is the whole Body; those who pray assist those who work in more visible ways. It is in their intercession before the Throne of God joined as it is to the one intercession of Christ – be it in the dim-list cloister or on some solitary mountain – that sends the power of the Holy Spirit surging through the rest of the Body enabling it to do its work. Prayer IS their work.

It can help us appreciate the Church’s understanding of this to remember that along with St. Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary to the Far East, St. Therese of Lisieux (the most recent Doctor of the Church!), the young Discalced Carmelite nun who died in her twenties, is the co-patron of the missionaries. The Church recognized that her work in her monastery was just as important as the more visible and more adventurous St. Francis. (What, though, is more adventurous than seeking the depths of God’s presence by grace in one’s soul?) St. Therese experienced a longing to be everything for Christ: a missionary, a martyr suffering all the martyrdoms of the Saints, a prophet, a doctor of the Church (!) – even a priest; but all these desires were caught up in her sudden recognition that “in the heart of my the Church, who is my mother, I WILL BE LOVE!”

A few years ago a popular Catholic magazine published an article relating interviews with men and women of various monastic Orders reflecting on their lives. Most striking was the interview with a young monk who admitted he was quite humbled by the fact that the only thing the Lord found him capable of doing was praying. This is the witness of a Saint-in-the-making!

We have to remember that any work done for the Lord must BE His work, what He has called us to do (to be!). We may all want to be great missionaries (we must all at least desire the furtherance of God’s Kingdom), but if the Lord has something else in mind, we must be willing to drop all for Him, even if it means putting away great ambitions of service and hoeing a very little row in a monastery in some backwater town in France.


#11

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