Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > ContemplationContinuityPresence


Contemplation, Continuity, and Presence

Tradition and Synthesis

Jun 20, 2006

Saying For Today: … Christian contemplation is an affirmation of the continuity of tradition, and no one prays as an individual alone.

Forgive us when we have been more doubtful of our tradition of faith, rather than more affirming and trusting. Give us the courage to live with respect for the past of our tradition and with openness to continue that tradition, as it unfolds into a greater vista than our forbears in the faith or we ourselves can at present see or even dream. In Christ, Amen.

Scripture: Luke 17.20
20Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or 'There!' for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (ESV)

[The message of Jesus] helps us see the kingdom as having come so that we can now enter it, and as still coming so that we diligently and passionately pray for it, welcome it, receive it, and seek it.
—Brian D. McClaren, The Secret Message of Jesus

Eastern Orthodox theologian John D. Zizioulas remarks, “The Kingdom comes to us as a visit and a presence; … (Being As Communion). The life of contemplation is counter the fascination with the prediction-schemes of many who speak and write of the so-called end-times. In the early Church, continuity, having to do with the historical, and presence, having to do with the meta-historical, or eschaton (i.e. "end time"), were held in synthesis (Ibid.). In the Gospel of John, especially, and in the Gospels, generally, this eschatological coming of the Kingdom is spoken of in a realized eschatology. The Kingdom which is to come is the Kingdom which already is “within” and “among” us. We need not look for it, we need only receive and live it.

In contemplation we practice this continuity and presence. We pray in faithfulness and respect for the faith tradition. As a Christian, I sit in continuity and unity with all brothers and sisters in the visible Church from the time of Pentecost and before, as the Church was embodied in Christ and the Apostles: the gathered Apostles symbolize the full gathering of all in Christ in the eschaton. Sitting in Silence, I continue their prayer, and when I die, even then, other persons will continue the prayer. Therefore, Christian contemplation is an affirmation of the continuity of tradition, and no one prays as an individual alone. There is no Christian contemplation apart from the tradition and Church. And, exploring especially the great mystics of the Church can heighten your appreciation of continuing their contemplative Silence in this very moment. You sit in koinonia: living, unbroken participation together with past, present, future, and fulfillment.

The word for Second Coming in the New Testament is porousia. This means “presence.” When we sit in Silence we are not only sitting historically, honoring the tradition past, we are sitting in the fulfillment of history, or meta-history. In Christ, for Christ is the integration of history and fulfillment, we sit in the already-completion of history, when all creation is transformed into Paradise and Bliss. We sit, by faith, as a man or woman growing into wholeness and already whole in Christ, for we sit in history and beyond history, within time and eternity-within-time. And, in Christ, not-yet and already is are a synthesis in Love.

•What words might you use for “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of Heaven” in more contemporary ways?
•Why is being in faith community integral to contemplation and contemplative living?
•What does it mean that we pray within history as continuity and history as fulfilled in Christ?
•How does the present fulfillment of history meeting with the continuance of history shape our understanding of “tradition”?

Spiritual Exercise
Keep spending at least twenty to thirty minutes daily in Silence, resting in the Lord of Love.
Explore the website www.sacredspace.ie offered by the Irish Jesuits and do some of the meditation exercises offered at the site.

Consider, if you are not already, sponsoring a child through Compassion International. You can find out more about Compassion International by going to www.compassion.net to read about sponsoring, in the name of Jesus, children living in poverty. Thanks! Brian K. Wilcox

To contact Brian, write briankwilcox@comcast.net .


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