The Carmel that is born on this mountain blessed by the action of the prophet Elijah, in its origins and in its development in the world has always preserved this significant aspect of spirituality, proposing it also to all those who are thirsty for God.
Contemplation is an action that goes beyond simply seeing and feeling, it is an internalized vision, in the sense of an openness to transcendence. It is like seeing with the eyes of the soul, under the powerful stimulus of the Holy Spirit. What did the prophet Elijah contemplate? the open sea, the green hills of Galilee, the distant mountains: but it was not this landscape reality that pushed him towards an exuberant love of God, to obey him, to give all his life, to live only for him: This is the source of his zealous zeal in defence of the one religion.
A man accustomed to the roughness of the rock, to the silence of nature, to that undefined image of a God who was there, but who had not yet manifested himself in a human face: he felt a reactive force in moments of paganism induced on the territory: he felt he was a warrior with a flaming sword, ready to challenge all the enemies of God. He imagined God omnipresent, worshipping him by following his voice in caves or out in the complicated world. All his action and strength lay in God.
In the new times Mary arrives, a simple and normal woman, but God was preparing her for a high and difficult task: very few words related to her are recorded in the Gospels: this does not mean that she has been absent from the activity of her Jesus. He kept a dignified distance from him not to hinder his evangelization, me in his mother’s heart this silence was prayer, contemplation of the great works of God that God was carrying out through his son Jesus.
Silence is the cup of contemplation, not a void that depresses and cancels the person, but a space that is left open to the communication of God in us. He speaks in silence and when our poor thoughts are silent; He through the light wind of the Holy Spirit enters our hearts leaving a trail of graces and gifts.
Mary’s contemplation consists in reading her strong and extraordinary events, referring them only to God and not subjecting them to the logic of reason, which manifests obvious limits of understanding. She lives between the story that is fulfilled and the mystery that is slowly revealed. She has no one to advise herself with: she remains alone to decide what to answer; reading the Bible she knows that there have been in history prodigious miracles of God to many women and now she is made aware that even her cousin, now touched over the years, will become a mother in a few months. At the end, Mary, a courageous young woman, gathered all her inner energies and dared to throw herself into the arms of God with all her being.
Our holy Reformers have taught us this sublime and participatory way to the divine action in us: words cease, language serves no purpose, the heap of thoughts is useless, others come as momentarily isolated: only the God of Jesus Christ remains to be heard, contemplate and love in the secret of the heart. If we turn off all the other voices, then He alone remains. And the soul enjoys it raptured in him.
For Mary it is precisely the contemplative action that allows her to be present in the heart of the Son, while being distant and respectful: she did not look with human eyes at his amazing story, but she trusted in the depths of the mystery of God, letting him decide and almost expropriate his own weak material identity. To follow her well in some few evangelical episodes that concern her, starting also from the expressions of her cousin Elizabeth, we note her contemplative dimension: she conceived of the mystery to better correspond to what is asked of her from above. Mary therefore remains humble and higher than creature (Dante), concrete in her duties in the family in Nazareth, but at the same time open and continually seduced by what is ever higher, greater and more intensely divine, to the point of being unspeakable, but that is the dynamic truth of his existence.
Listening to our Teresa is precisely the contemplative prayer that transforms life, gives it a higher breath, which pushes up prayer: any other search is useless, because it is God himself who loves to manifest himself directly, which opens the door of the heart when the soul opens to him: truly God alone is enough for the soul that seeks him and follows him with sincerity.
The transformation of Mary’s life is evident after the Annunciation of the Angel: already the Holy Spirit makes her fruitful, the position of the bridegroom Joseph is also recomposed in God; his whole person is dedicated to the child until his death on the cross. Nothing will be as important to her as the human and contemplative relationship with the Son of God.
Mary, woman of contemplation, helps our prayer to be transformed into contemplation of your Son Jesus.
Fr Attilio Ghisleri, dco