IN A CONTEMPLATIVE FASHION
I love this photo by fr Lawrence Lew OP of one his brethren sitting quietly in the afternoon sunshine in Blackfriars, Oxford. Amongst other things, it sums up for me the essence of 'informal' contemplation; those moments one snatches in the middle of the busyness of the world, which 'recharge the batteries', and give one little insights into the love and glory of God.
fr Vincent McNabb OP, a Dominican in London in the first half of the last century, who spoke often at Speakers' Corner, said after a visit to America that 'They never have time for anything; all is rush' (I wonder what he'd have made of today's London ?)
One famous American Catholic, though, learned the secret of rushing effectively; Archbishop Fulton Sheen believed, passionately, in giving an hour a day - preferably the first hour of the day - to God in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle : the 'Holy Hour'. He started that whilst a Seminarist, just before his ordination, and maintained the practice faithfully until the day of his death. He was convinced that it was that time of quiet and stillness which gave him the ability to pack so much into his days.
I mention this today because it seems to me that today is a quiet day of contemplation as we get towards the end of the Christmas Octave, and also the end of the year - a day with no Saints to celebrate (well, alright : S. Eugene of Milan, perhaps), when we can sit quietly with God, and think back on the year that is closing, and look ahead to the New Year which is so close.
An Examination of Conscience today is probably a good idea, even if not a very attractive one; all those good resolutions forgotten, all those lapses, all those sins which we have tried hard to forget . . . but let us, just for today, not forget them; let us remember them, and learn from them, and pray God that next year we shall do better. We shan't, though, without His grace : so let us also pray for that in the year ahead.
We may not be able to make a Holy Hour before our Lord each day; but we can at least find the odd few minutes, like the brother above, to remember our failings, and His mercies . . . and we can find one day, at the end of the year, to pull all of our life in the past twelve months together, ask His pardon for our innumerable offences against His Divine goodness, and remember, thankfully, how His goodness and love has exceeded even our failure to remember Him.