Thought for the Day – 17 May – Meditations with Antonio Cardinal Bacci (1881-1971)
Contemplation and Our Lady
“True contemplation has it’s origin in love, for when love is intense it gives a clear insight into that which is loved.
It is never the result of mere learning, which can be cold and uninspiring and, therefore, unable to give us a vision of the truth.
Many are learned without love, while there are others, who have no learning but love God and contemplate Him with a spiritual joy which is a prelude to the happiness of Heaven.
Contemplation is not, therefore, a gift of learning.
Even an illiterate man can have it, while those who study a great deal, may be without it.
For the most part, it is the gift of divine grace.
This is not to deny that the knowledge of sacred things, especially of theology, can promote contemplation.
It can help, as long as it is not the kind of learning which makes a man proud but, rather leads him nearer to God.
This is what St Paul meant when he said that “knowledge puffs up but charity edifies” (1 Cor 8:1).
Contemplation, then, begins in the love which is based on humility and on prayer.
The contemplative must always look for the help of divine grace without ever presuming on his own powers and without fooling himself, that he has made any progress of his own accord.
It does not matter whether he is an ignorant or a learned man, as long as he sees the reflection of God in all things and comes to know and love Him.
Then, under the the influence of divine grace, contemplation flows from the loving knowledge of God.
The Blessed Virgin was created and conceived full of grace and endowed with more supernatural privileges than any other creature.
Therefore, she knew and loved God in a higher way than any of the Cherubim or Seraphim.
It is only to be expected then, that she would have had the gift of contemplation.
Her prayer was an intimate conversation with God.
We have an example of this kind of contemplative prayer in the hymn which she composed when she became the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
“My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour; Because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaid; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed….” (Lk 1:46-48).
In Mary, however, the contemplative life was united to the active life.
This was so, whether she was in the house in Nazareth, or following Jesus on His apostolic journeys, or co-operating with the Apostles in their great mission during her last years on earth.”
Antonio Cardinal Bacci