For Father Richard, when we surrender to love in the present moment, we encounter the flow of Divine Presence:
Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It is, rather, a life stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, living in awareness of the Presence, and even of enjoying the Presence. Fully contemplative people are more than aware of Divine Presence; they trust, allow, and delight in it. They “stand” on it!
The contemplative secret is learning to live in such a now. The now is not as empty as it might appear to be or that we fear it may be. Try to realize that everything is right here, right now. When we’re doing life right, it means nothing more than it is right now, because God is in this moment in a non-blaming way. When we are able to experience that, taste and enjoy it, we don’t need to hold on to it. The next moment will have its own taste and enjoyment.
Because most of our moments are not tasted or real or in the Presence, we are never full. We create artificial fullness and want to hang on to that. But there’s nothing to hold on to when we begin to taste the fullness of now. God is either in this now or God isn’t at all. If the now has never been full or sufficient, we will always be grasping. Here is a litmus test: If we’re pushing ourselves and others around, we have not yet found the secret of happiness. This moment is as full of the Divine Presence as it can be. Saints have called this the “sacrament of the present moment.”
The present moment has no competition; it is not judged in comparison to any other. It has never happened before and will not happen again. But when I’m in competition, I’m not in love. I can’t get to love because I’m looking for a new way to dominate. The way we know this mind is not the truth is that God does not deal with us like this. The mystics, those who really pray, know this. Those who enter deeply into the great mystery do not experience a God who compares, differentiates, and judges. They experience an all-embracing receptor, a receiver who recognizes the divine image in each and every individual.
For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love. Returning to love. Trusting that love is the deepest stream of reality. That’s why prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s primarily an attitude, a stance, a modus operandi. That’s why Paul could say, “Pray always.” “Pray unceasingly.” If we read that as requiring words, it is surely impossible. We’ve got a lot of other things to do. We can pray unceasingly, however, if we find the stream and know how to wade in its waters. The stream will flow through us, and all we have to do is keep choosing to stay there.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999, 2003), 31, 65–66, 81.
Explore Further. . .
- Read Richard on the sacrament of the present moment.
- Learn more about this year’s theme Nothing Stands Alone.
- Meet the team behind the Daily Meditations.
Image credit: Barbara Holmes, Untitled 14 & 21 (detail), 2021, photograph, United States, used with permission. Abel Marquez, Lady Praying, 2020 (detail), photograph, free use. Jenna Keiper and Leslye Colvin, 2021, triptych art, United States.
The creative team at CAC sent a single-use camera to core teacher Dr. Barbara Holmes as part of an exploration into contemplative photography. Her photos are featured here together with other images in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story.
Image inspiration: Sometimes we don’t have the energy to climb the stairs or jump off the dock. Wherever we are in this moment: in community, in solitude, in joy, in sorrow, with motivation or with great exhaustion… God meets us here.
Story from Our Community:
Meditation has helped me focus on my life of prayer as I travel the difficult road of grief as a widow. It helps me face the day and encourages me in my work as a Christian Counselor. I have gained a better understanding of what I already believed about God, and I can look forward with hope.
Prayer for our community:
God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough, because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.