Fruits of Contemplation


Fruits of Contemplation

By Blackfriars Staff


As he tells the story, it simply dawned on Fr. James Brent, O.P., one Christmas Octave several years ago that God wants to raise up contemplative souls in the Church—people who have truly heard, and take seriously, the universal call to contemplative prayer. His sense was confirmed two months later when he gave a talk on the topic through the lens of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity. He witnessed a large turnout and a real hunger in people to learn more. Several came forward wanting to meet regularly to learn the ways of contemplative prayer. So was born the “Contemplative Souls” discussion group still going years later, and so too were planted the seeds of his new podcast: Contemplata.

Fr. James is not alone in his thinking. He points to the recent popularity of the writings of Fathers Thomas Dubay, Jean LaFrance, Jacques Philippe, Donald Haggerty, and Timothy Gallagher as evidence of this deep hunger for prayer. He concurs with Fr. Haggerty’s view that there is a “contemplative revolution” underway right now in the Church. “In a world of scientism, the human heart still thirsts for a drink from the fountain of Light on high,” Fr. James said.

The term “contemplata” is at the heart of our Dominican life and mission of preaching, he explained. “Our motto is ‘contemplata aliis tradere’ – normally translated as ‘to give to others the fruits of contemplation.’ Contemplata are things contemplated deeply, the mysteries of God pondered with love and understanding in divine light, and are now ready to be put into words for others to receive.”

The purpose of this podcast is to provide food for contemplative souls, and that means, first, letting people know there is a universal call to contemplative prayer. Once they hear the call, people need practical instruction on how to proceed. “They need to learn the pathways to the top of Mount Tabor, so to speak, so that by walking they might come to behold the radiant face of Christ with the eyes of their hearts.” Second, they need actual food for meditation and prayer. “People need to hear the mysteries of faith all over again, and hear them more deeply than on the level of catechetics or common homilies, and hear them in a manner suitable to contemplative prayer.”

Fr. James wants to bring his listeners to a better understanding of the indwelling Trinity, which he deems is the best kept secret of our faith. However, in order to fully receive the teachings on the indwelling Trinity, the healing and transformation of our hearts by grace has to take place, he explained. “The eyes of our hearts have become blind to the Presence, and the fire of love has grown cold if it has not altogether been extinguished. In order to illumine the eyes of the human heart anew, and transform the heart into a burning furnace of charity, God has sent his Son and Spirit into our hearts on invisible missions of renewal.” In this podcast, Fr. James will talk about the dynamics of that process and ask, “What is God doing in our hearts?” and “What is he calling us to do?”

Fr. James begins this podcasting project by examining three fundamental Catholic practices: listening to the Word of God; practicing personal prayer, especially the Rosary; and receiving the Eucharist in a worthy manner. These three practices, more than anything else, serve the healing and transformation of our hearts, he said. But the most important of these is the Eucharist. In the first 15 episodes of Contemplata, Fr. James shares the fruits of his contemplation on the Eucharist as food for listeners’ own meditation and prayer so that they may more fully appreciate the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, make him the center of their lives, and receive the abundant graces the Lord desires to give them through the Eucharist. The timing of the podcast, launched in February, couldn’t be better— Fr. James hopes these 10-minute reflections will serve to reinforce the ongoing Eucharistic Revival.

Listen to Contemplata

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