Catholic Diocese Tucson

10 CATHOLIC OUTLOOK SEPTEMBER 2019 Contemplative and devotional prayer have roots in early church monasteries where members could work and pray. “Benedict tried to bring them together. He said, ‘Let’s not be alone in the desert, living our own thing and our own experience of God. Let’s move in together and have one monastery and we all live together,’” Father Coury said. “That became the model for 10 centuries.” That time period became the launching pad of countless religious communities, several of which, including the Dominicans, Jesuits and Franciscans, flourish to this day. However, “the contemplative model got swallowed up into the Benedictine model,” the priest said. ”It broke loose again in the 1300s when you had these great women like Catherine of Siena and Hildegard of Bingen and Julian of Norwich – these great women who were contemplatives. It started breaking the contemplative tradition loose again from the Benedictine tradition and separate paths started to form again.” Later writers – St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila – wrote books that became classics in contemplative literature, Father Coury said. “St. Teresa wrote about the mansions and about light-filled places. St. John wrote about the darkness of the inner self,” he said. “I like John of the Cross. They locked him in a cellar where he wrote ‘The Dark Night of the Soul.’” Father Coury said, quoting St. John of the Cross and adding with a smile, “‘It’s always good to be in the cellar. It’s where they keep the best wine.’” Among contemporary writers, Trappist monk Father Thomas Merton would be a good example of a contemplative thinker, said Father Coury. Another recent saint – St. Teresa of Kolkata – reimagined the relationship Part of an ongoing series on prayer By MICHAEL BROWN Managing Editor Contemplative and devotional/ritual prayer – the two main branches of prayer – have been present in Christian culture since the early church, said Redemptorist Father Paul Coury, director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center. “As the early church, in the second and third century formed these small (Christian) communities that had worshipped together, they lived together and shared resources,” Father Coury said, citing the growth of devotional/ritual prayer. “At the same time, you had these people, St. Antony, and people going out into the desert - the Desert Fathers - to try to live the school of Scripture, which said to sell everything you have and go out and pray constantly, continuously.” “You had those two parallel traditions going on,” he said. In the sixth century, St. Benedict created a combined format by opening between contemplative and devotional/ ritual prayer, he added. “Mother Teresa’s interesting in that she challenged her nuns in a contemplative way to experience Christ in the sick and dying, like St. Francis who experienced Christ in the leper,” Father Coury added. Francis’s experience of seeing Jesus as a leper “changed his life. That was one of his great conversion moments,” he said. “So you had these other traditions that came out where you tried to see Christ within the sick and dying person and experience Christ there,” said Father Coury. “Mother Teresa told her nuns you don’t see a sick and dying person there. You see Jesus Christ. You see the Jesus in him, in that man or woman who’s dying.” Even with the resurgence of contemplative prayer, the devotional/ ritual prayer, manifest largely through Mass and the sacraments, will be by far the most widespread method of praying. “The sacramental tradition is always the strongest tradition. The contemplative tradition is parallel but it comes and goes,” Father Coury said. We are a praying