The Theological Grace of True Contemplation

“True contemplation is not a psychological trick but a theological grace.”
– Thomas Merton

GRACE pervades life in and through an obedient, surrendered soul.

It would be hard to believe the witness of a work of God’s grace through someone not surrendered and disobedient.

But the obedience we speak of is not simply obedience at the level of sin; it’s an obedience at the level of virtue.

The busy, cluttered soul probably has no problem with the initial graces – the reconciliation of hurts and the ability to go at depth with the soul. But they perhaps are at a loss to explain how to enter what they truly need – a true contemplation.

A true contemplation is a special kind of surrender in this day and age of busyness.
It is an obedience to throw it all away for just God alone.

Obedience that sees nothing ahead of it but God – not one distraction prevailing – is an obedience often required, especially regarding contemplation.


What are the practical graces of a truer contemplation?

We have discussed the actual need of drawing aside from the world, from people, from tasks, and from distractions, but the practice of grace of the inner life is even a negation of our very selves.

It’s not simply about making time, but aggressively pairing away from every care.

It’s not just about finding sources for direction and nourishment, but embodying these contemplations in every fissure of our being.

It’s about jettisoning the important things for a time. It’s about departing from our routine selves.

Practical graces of true contemplation are moments in time strung together in series. Such moments transcend the ordinary, and in such moments the true imperatives of life are seen unadorned but kingly as they are.

It is amazing how our losses and the depth of our grief – as moments of eternality – speak of the truer contemplations our souls are desperate for. See how those massive disappointments of life come back in our defence? See how those dark nights we endured come back as God speaking into us from eternity?


Our dark nights of endurance are our truer contemplations where God’s Presence is manifest.

Those very times of soul bitterness and contempt, worked through, become the very fuel for praise.

For the depths endured in sullen contemplation there are the heights scalable for spiritual contemplations of bliss.

For every abyss descended there is a spiritual peak to be ascended.

© 2015 S. J. Wickham.