By Fr. Roy Cimagala
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.
Yes, we have to be immersed and get involved as much as we can 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 that is proper to us as persons and as children of God. We have to learn to find the connection between the material and spiritual aspects of our life, between the temporal and eternal, the mundane and the sacred.
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 would not 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, for after all he is 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 to have a deep, strong supernatural outlook such that we can somehow feel God’s presence everywhere and see and abide by his will and continuing providence.
We have to devise some means that would help us keep our presence of God all throughout the day even in the middle of the most mundane activity we have. In this regard, we have to be most inventive and creative, flexible and versatile. It helps that to be truly motivated by our love for God and for others, we be sportive and game in our lifestyle, since everyday 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. (cfr. Lk 15)