Another section of my Rule of Life:
1.1 This rule is
entirely dedicated to the search for God through a life of contemplation
which is currently lived out within the vocation of marriage and family life.
1.1.1 Within the
parameters of my married vocation, giving due attention to my responsibilities
and duties to my family, with prayer and penance willingly undertaken, I seek
to occupy myself with God alone, retaining as much as possible, no matter how
pressing the needs of the active apostolate may be, an honorable place in the
Mystical Body of Christ, whose “members do not all have the same function”.
apostolate of the laity is currently, and of necessity, my primary and
fundamental apostolate, with the married life as my primary vocation within
that apostolate. However, the contemplative life has
emerged for me as a special, compenetrating vocation allowed by my
Contemplative life as a
“vocation” means a particular form of life in which, ideally at least, every detail
of daily living is oriented toward recollection. By recollection we mean
mindfulness, ultimately unlimited mindfulness, the inner attitude by which we find
meaning. Contemplative life in this sense is a form of life designed to provide an optimum environment for a radical search for meaning.
Meaning and purpose are not
identical….By grasping purpose we gain knowledge; by allowing meaning
to take hold of us we gain that wisdom which is the ultimate goal of contemplative life....The openness for meaning is joined to the pursuit of purpose through leisure…. Contemplative life as a form of life molded by a radical search for meaning will necessarily be a life of leisure, ascetical leisure.
Steindl-Rast, OSB, PhD
contemplative life – lived as much as possible within the constraints of
married life – is my typical and characteristic way in God’s special design to
be Church, to live in the Church, to achieve communion with the Church, and to
carry out a mission in the Church. I
recognize in the Virgin Mary an exemplary model of this way of life.
1.3. Inspired and sustained by grace, I am called
to live out more perfectly the vows made in my name at Baptism.
1.3.1 My vocation
has led me to the profession of the evangelical counsels in a personal, private
vow. The Church urges and teaches that all the faithful are to practice the
evangelical counsels insofar as possible. Because of my circumstances, I am called
to practice these counsels to a greater degree than is typical for the laity. By
means of professing vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity according to the
obligations of my state, I strengthen my baptismal promises to love God more
than anything else and to renounce Satan and all temptation.
“Now, this holiness of the Church is
unceasingly manifested, as it ought to be, through those fruits of grace that
the Spirit produces in the faithful. It is expressed in multiple ways by those
individuals who, in their walk of life, strive for the perfection of charity,
and thereby help others to grow. In a
particularly appropriate way this holiness shines out in the practice of the
counsels customarily called ‘evangelical.’
Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the practice of these counsels
is undertaken by many Christians, either privately or in some Church-approved
situation or state, and produces in the world, as produce it should, a shining
witness and model of holiness.” (Lumen Gentium, 39)
1.3.2 My taking of a personal, private vow “creates a new bond between
the person and the One and Triune God, in Jesus Christ. This
bond develops on the foundation of the original bond that is contained in the
Sacrament of Baptism. Such profession is deeply rooted in baptismal
consecration and is a fuller expression of it. In this way my profession, in
its constitutive content, becomes a new consecration: the consecration and
giving of the human person to God, loved above all else.”
renouncing many blessings in this life, I choose to seek that pearl of great
As used in Can. 663 & 674.
“Contemplation” designates the act by which the mind simply looks upon
some object. “Contemplative prayer” may be defined as
a simple and affectionate gaze on God or things
divine. It is more briefly defined by St. Thomas
Aquinas as “a simple gaze on truth” (Summa theol., IIa IIæ,
q. 180, a. 1 and 2). See Adolphe Tanquerey, The
Spiritual Life: A Treatise on Ascetical and Mystical
Vatican II, Perfectæ Caritatis 7
In his Homily 2 on Ezekiel, St.
Gregory the Great says the contemplative life is “to cling with our whole
the love of God and our neighbor, and to desire nothing beside our Creator.”
“Contemplative Community” in Contemplative
Community: An Interdisciplinary Symposium, ed. M.
Pennington, OCSO (Washington, DC: Consortium Press, 1972) Cistercian
Publications 21, pp. 294-5.