Active-contemplative synergy

October 7, 2019


Given the increasingly pressing conditions of the world today and the permanent, ultimate and most precious goal of ours, we really need to be more serious and more skillful in synergizing both the active and contemplative modes of our life.
We have to be immersed and involved in all our worldly affairs, attending to their requirements as promptly and actively as possible. But we also have to see to it that we do not lose sight of what is most important in our life—to be with God and to aim at heaven. “What does it profit a man,” Christ said, “if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Mk 8,36)
We need to be both with God and with the world. These two modes of our life need not be in conflict. They can and should be put together to enable us to live a life proper to us as persons and children of God. We have to learn to find the connection between the material and spiritual, the temporal and eternal, and the mundane and sacred aspects of our life.
The active and contemplative modes of our life may each have their own ways, but we have to develop a strategy of how those distinctive ways can be put together. It wouldn’t be good for us if we would just be active but fail to be contemplative, or just contemplative but not active. We have to be both.
The secret, I believe, is to begin everything we think, desire, speak, and do with God, the creator of everything, the author of what is true, good and beautiful in the world. With him, we get to see the unity that binds together all the different aspects of our life. He is the source, pattern, and end of unity.
Thus, a period of prayer, meditation, and contemplation should have priority over our work and other forms of activity. Prayer in its many forms, together with the recourse of the sacraments and making sacrifices, should help us have a deep, strong supernatural outlook such that we can somehow feel God’s presence everywhere and see and abide by his will.
We have to devise some means to keep our presence of God all day even in the middle of the most mundane activity we have. In this regard, we have to be most inventive, creative, flexible, and versatile. It helps that to be truly motivated by our love of God and for others, we be sportive and game in our lifestyle, since every day is actually like a game with endlessly varying possibilities.
To be contemplative is usually associated with being isolated, withdrawn from things, reflective, silent, recollected, and far-looking, but it has to blend with our need to be with others, immersed in things, constantly reactive to whatever immediate stimuli may come our way.
If we have a true contemplative spirit, the things of the world would not be a hindrance in our relationship with God. In fact, the things of the world would become the means, instrument, occasion, and reason to be with God. It is in them that we can and should develop and show our love for him and for others.
In other words, our active life of work and other worldly concerns is also where we can contemplate God. It is in them that we can and should meet God. There is no event in our life where we cannot meet God.
Even when in our earthly affairs we suffer some misfortune or commit mistakes or even fall into sin, we should not forget that we can and should still be with God. Yes, even in our worst condition, God would be most solicitous of us, as illustrated in the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son.




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