A Frame for Contemplation

The imagination turns out to be a powerful way of knowing. Using this power that you have, you can pull together images or data that might seem to be worlds apart and make coherent sense of them. Great scientists and inventive technologists say that, after you've gotten all the information, then real knowing begins: you have to re-envision things, see them anew, differently. That demands imagination.

So you use this great God?given power in prayer. You are likely to have a common problem with this power: It is unruly. our imagination turns to fantasy on the slightest provocation - leaving the real world behind and enjoying a never-never land. You probably know that the great religions have developed ways of taming and focusing the imagination, and some of their disciplines are aimed at that.

Here is one proven way to focus your imagination for the sake of coming to know, love, and follow Jesus better. This is the frame of contemplation in the Ignatian contemplations on the Incarnation and on the Birth of Jesus It is a "method" much the same way that the Great Books Course is a "method" - everyone uses it in his or her own way and gets out of it something uniquely their own. You will readily find how much and in what ways this frame of contemplation helps you.

* I come into God's presence and feel His loving gaze, and then I offer myself completely to God.
* First, I recall for a moment some details of the particular part of sacred history that I am going to pray about.
* Second, I compose myself in the scene I am going to contemplate, or in the place where it takes place.
* Third, I ask for what I want: I want to know Jesus intimately, friend to friend. I want to share great love with Him. I want to go where He goes and do what He does.
* Then, I enter into the event. I can do that in many different ways, and nothing constrains me to do it one way rather than another.

* One way that helps some people: I notice the people themselves, keenly, lovingly. Then I listen to what they say. Then I watch how they are acting.

* Another way that helps: I simply get involved in the event, at whatever point I feel drawn into it. I act in it, a part of the event ? holding the light, fixing the hayrack, helping with the animals.

* And a final way: I go along with one of the persons in the event, letting the event be a dynamic background. We talk with the listen to one another.

* Whichever of these ways I use, I try to keep myself involved. For intimate knowledge reaches both into the one known and into the one knowing and deep love of God comes only to the one who know himself or herself loved even while loving.

After I have spoken with the Lady Mary or with Jesus and with the Father, as always, I end with the Our Father.