Someone said Pope Benedict revealed that God told him to resign.
And now many people are discussing the notion that Benedict is an intellectual turned mystic, Benedict is a contemplative - as if he wasn't before.
I really think ordinary people - and many Catholics - have overly exalted ideas regarding contemplative prayer, contemplative life. Others may have a far too simplistic idea about it as well. But, "who am I to judge?" That said, "we" sometimes go to our resources, pull out quotes concerning a particular stage of prayer, or a particular experience of a saint, and use that in out effort to 'discern' the 'contemplative-ability' of a personal experience or the alleged stage of prayer of ourselves or another person. Qualified spiritual directors may have that responsibility in guiding souls, but most people miss the point - I think. But, "who am I to judge?" I know!
I'm a big fan of ordinary life, simple prayer, common mystic prayer... recollection - and so on. Simple.
I came across a beautiful teaching on contemplative prayer I want to share with those interested. It is written by Dr. Lilles and is titled, A Contemplation that Hears Heaven. I'll share a little here:
Beyond every psychological experience in prayer, however enlightened it might be, there is a contemplation of the Gospel of Christ rooted in a whole new outpouring of truth. This ceaseless outpouring of love on broken humanity is always new because the Word of the Father, though unchanging, is never old. His voice echoes with unique and unrepeatable harmony - the harmony that causes all things to be, that saves them from every danger and that orders them all to their great purpose. Though hidden in weakness and vulnerable to every kind of evil, the Word constantly puts the eternal plan of the Father into motion.
This is a river of primordial, salvific and heavenly truth flowing in darkness: a true unfolding miracle saving, restoring, rebuilding, raising up, providing, protecting, perfecting all manner of new life. The miracle of hope is born in these waters even as this tired old world is doomed under the weight of lifeless systems and frantic ideologies. Christian contemplation stands in this river and in the flow of its currents, it hears heaven.The most radical of all forms of contemplation of any religious tradition, prayer that welcomes the Word claims the total transformation, not only of created intelligence, but of human nature itself. This is a transformation by glory and for glory into pure and ceaseless praise. Predestined in Christ, in the world but not of it, this humble prayer is unto the praise of God's glory. Finish reading here.
I thought along these lines yesterday at adoration. I make all my offerings, reparations, petitions for people I promise to pray for, only to realize that sometimes interior silence is called for, that it is enough - to hear. Sometimes at adoration, I get the impression of what is described in Ezekiel 47 as The Wonderful Stream, which for me, is analogous with the 'wonderful stream' flowing from the pierced side of Christ: Like "a river of primordial, salvific and heavenly truth flowing in darkness".
Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and there! I saw water flowing out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the front of the temple faced east. The water flowed out toward the right side of the temple to the south of the altar. - Ezekiel 47Common mystic prayer...
I had rather one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I had rather lie abject at the threshold of the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked. - Ps. 84
How do we find this secret mountain and how do we enter this hidden garden? The substance of such hope cannot be clung to as long as the mind lusts for religious experience and seeks its rest in its own spiritual achievement. - Some thoughts on prayer for the Year of Faith
Disclaimer: My thoughts expressed her are just my personal opinion.