Monday, February 20, 2006

A Long Loving Look at the Real

In any relationship, there is always a need for three important things: a yearning, desiring for it, courage, and fidelity. Whether one is in a romantic intimate relationship, or organization, or friendships, one is required of a certain level of yearning for it, being courageous about it and a faithfulness in it, or fidelity. Without these three things, a relationship could be in shambles or just simply platonic; a no-attachment, non-affecting type of relationship. A certain degree of attachment always brings with it an effect on one person. An attachment to an organization may change the person's view aligning one's views to the organization. If you try to notice, if a man and woman has been together for a long time, they start to move alike, talk alike, think alike. One affects the other. Sinasabi nga nila na naging magkamukha na ang mag-asawa. What brought you all here? It is that common bond of the vision and mission of CLC which you all believe in.

So if a relationship does not affect your way of life, there is really little or nothing that you can get from it.

Likewise, if one truly desires for a real relationship with Jesus, there must be a yearning for it, there must be a desire for it, being courageous about it and being faithful about it. And when one is truly yearning for it, desiring for it, courageous about it, and faithful about it, one must also be affected by his deeds, actions and even by the way he thinks.

And how do we get to know a God whom we have never met before? A God whom we only read, get to hear from other people? A God whom we know that is constantly working in our lives, but is not fully known by us? If Jesus was alive in our age and time, or was at least written accurately, we would easily know him. But no, we don’t have that data. So how do we get to know a Jesus? There are many ways, but since I am a Jesuit, I would like to share our spirituality with you.

We already know that a personal relationship with Christ is an important aspect in our life. We also want to respond to his abounding love. But before we could respond, how do we get to know our God? There is a method of prayer that we Jesuits inherit from our founder. The method is called contemplation.

We have heard of the word, but we only understand it as a serious consideration of things in our lives. Contemplation used by Ignatius was a contemplation of the heart of Jesus.

When we talk of contemplation in the Ignatian sense, we talk about imagining Christ. We imagine always, sometimes it becomes our past time; in the middle of boring classes, or when we gaze and look at someone from afar. In a simple sense, contemplation as Ignatius taught is like that. A gazing, a looking at, locked in his gaze. Beholding Jesus who beholds us. Like to two lovers I described above, when we look at someone we love, we become so attracted to that person's being. We become so attached to him or her. We even try to emulate the person.

Why do we contemplate? It is how we get in touch with a God who resides deep in our hearts. It is our way to connect to someone who has been residing in us. And bringing it out, makes us aware of the qualities of Christ in us. It is where God connects to us. Only in the deepest seat of our hearts. This is our way of knowing Christ.

So how do we imagine Christ? Just like imagining a close friend. In the gospel stories I will suggest to you, try to imagine the happenings in the story.

When I say imagine, it does not only mean to see the person or the event, it could be that when one imagines, one can hear things. If a person, cannot hear things, he could feel things. Whatever forms of imagination the person has, it is still imagination, it is still contemplation.

* This talk was given last October 2005 at Sacred Heart Novitiate during the ACLC retreat.