The true passivity of contemplative life is really not passive in the exact sense of the word, and it is not directed to the presence of thoughts in prayer.
This genuine passivity is an active inward disposition of receptive attentiveness and love toward God.
In true contemplative life, an expectant yearning is present in the soul; real desire animates the inner spirit and makes it receptive in its longing for God. The passive dimension is in the waiting, in the patient expectation, that accompanies a receptive disposition. Desire in the soul for God remains poised and taut, as it were, inasmuch as the soul hungers without satiation.
At the same time, this form of contemplative passivity renounces any effort of direct pursuit, as we might exercise in a chase after an immediate target in front of us. The passivity consists, rather, in remaining still, waiting, anticipating the unseen presence that will draw our soul and incline us to want nothing but to give ourselves to him. This passivity is to be actively receptive to the desire to love in return for love.
Fr. Donald Haggerty. "The Passivity of the Seed." The Contemplative Hunger (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2016).
Reprinted with permission from Ignatius Press.
Fr. Donald Haggerty, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is currently serving at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. He has been a Professor of Moral Theology at St. Joseph's Seminary in New York and Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland and has a long association as a spiritual director for Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He is the author of Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter with God, as well as Contemplative Provocations and The Contemplative Hunger.Copyright © 2016 Ignatius Press
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