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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Contemplation - its length and breadth, height and depth

Saint Paul reveals to us a vital dimension of Christian prayer when in his prayer for us: I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:18-19).

To be filled with the fullness of God; to understand the breadth and length, the height and depth; to know the love of the Visible Image of the Invisible God surpassing all knowledge; all of this is what we avail ourselves to every time we begin to pray. It is the whole purpose, the vital reason, the animating and sanctifying Spirit of contemplation. It is the familiar ground of those who humble themselves before the almighty Father and who avail themselves to the presence of the Risen Lord at work in the world.

Saint Bernard calls this length, "eternity"; this width, "love"; this height, "power"; and this depth, "wisdom." It is so totally other than ourselves, so unfamiliar, so hidden. And yet, the humble prayer of faith dares such wonders and does not fear such splendor. Why? Because it boldly stands on the love of Christ Jesus and it knows the hope we have in Him never disappoints. Such is the greatness of what faith in Christ accesses - a glory known in this world not of it, a joy that fills this life but completely beyond what this world can contain, a light this world needs now more than ever and which shines in its midst unvanquished.

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