Action & Contemplation
What does God ask of us? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. —Micah 6:8
Franciscan Richard Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987 because he saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. The two are inseparable. In fact, the most important word in “action and contemplation” is “and.” This means prayerfully letting go of our sense of control over our lives and cooperating with God’s work in the world. If we pray but don’t act justly, our faith won’t bear fruit. And without contemplation, activists burn out and even well-intended actions can cause more harm than good. In today’s religious, environmental, and political climate our compassionate engagement is urgent and vital.
In his Daily Meditations this year, Father Richard helps us learn the dance of action and contemplation. Sign up to receive the free messages from the Center for Action and Contemplation every day or every Saturday. Each week builds on previous topics, but you can join at any time! Scroll down to watch Richard’s video introduction, learn more about the 2020 theme, and explore the archive.
Richard talks about the significance of this year’s theme:
Contemplation is a radical opening to God’s loving presence. In this vulnerable place, grace humbles us and moves us to fight for justice and mercy. Contemplation changes how we think, how we spend money and time, how we vote, and how we relate to ourselves and others. As one of our faculty members, Barbara Holmes, says, “Centering down is not an escape from the din of daily life; rather, it requires full entry into the fray but on different terms. Always, contemplation requires attentiveness to the Spirit of God.” From an awareness of our connection with God and all living beings, we’ll know what action is ours to do—and what is not ours to do.
Richard reflects on the importance of contemplation during a politically divisive time:
These are not new ideas. Jesus himself modeled a contemplative way of praying and sacrificial service. Contemplation was taught by the desert fathers and mothers and in monasteries for centuries. True “mystics” and mature seekers have an embodied spirituality.
Fr. Richard and friends draw from the Christian contemplative tradition and other faiths and fields of study to help us create a different world—here and now—that honors our differences and recognizes our oneness. Thank you for being part of the Center for Action & Contemplation’s community of prayer and practice!
Listen to Richard say aloud a Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.
Every Saturday includes a summary of the previous week’s meditations and an invitation to contemplative practice. Click here to learn about contemplative prayer and other forms of meditation. “Gateway to Action & Contemplation” (at the bottom of each meditation) is an invitation to deepen your experience of reading that day’s reflection.
Find previous years’ meditations in the web archive. See 2020 topics linked (past) and listed (upcoming) below.
- Action and Contemplation: Part One
- Action and Contemplation: Part Two
- Action and Contemplation: Part Three
- Knowing and Not Knowing
- Alternative Orthodoxy
- Ways of Knowing
- Mind, Body, and Heart
- Enneagram: Part One
- Enneagram: Part Two
- Enneagram: Part Three
- Summary and Lamentation Practice for a Time of Crisis
- The Path of Descent
- Reality Initiating Us: Part One
- Reality Initiating Us: Part Two
- The Universal Pattern
- Teresa of Ávila and John of the Cross
- Liminal Space
- Julian of Norwich
- Franciscan Ecological Wisdom
- Alternative Community
- Contemplation and Racism
- Inner and Outer Freedom
- Cosmology and Nature