The Act of Contemplation

In whatever ‘fire storms’ one finds oneself in these days (and we have just come through another literal one here in Sonoma County) the following from Hans Urs Von Balthasar is offered to assist in finding freedom from our fears and the oppression of ‘profane existence’.

Whoever makes the attempt to perform the act of contemplation will with time be given something like the state of contemplation. The kind of sustained organ-stop which is held under the confused melody of his day-to-day business and which makes itself heard whenever there is a short pause in the activities. He then knows – for he has actively steeped himself in this knowledge – that the whole range of his profane existence is undergirded by a holy of holies and justified by that. Why? Because all this profane existence which shouts so loudly the importance and purposefulness of its own claims is ultimately meaningless, for it cannot find in its own realm any ultimate grounding; it retains something of a ghostly and despairing character, it flees from one meaningless present into an ostensibly more meaningful future, a future however whose deep perilousness, ambiguity, unredeemability, is an open secret for all. But is not this meaningless, this senselessness which undergirds our daily pursuit of meaning as relentlessly as death, taken up for the Christian into the most holy senselessness of the Eucharist: for what could be more pointless than the total self-giving of God in Christ in which he is emptied out, devoured, and thrown away, cast as pearls before swine? This ultimate senseless is the only center of meaning by which we can take our bearings, if we will only for once put our calculating machines aside and reflect on our condition.

Hans Urs Von Balthasar (Elucidations, 188-189)
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