Contemplation is God lovingly gazing upon us. Contemplation is an infused loving gaze of intention upon the Divine who dwells within the secret oratory of the soul. That little terrain of interior Heaven where the soul seeks to withdraw from the tumult of life to peacefully abide with its Beloved, who lovingly desires the soul to draw close to the healing balm of Her wondrous love. Saint Albert the Great writes, "Furthermore, while the soul is withdrawn from everything and is turned within, the eye of contemplation is opened and sets itself up a ladder by which it can pass to the contemplation of God.
By this contemplation the soul is set on fire for eternal things by the heavenly good things it experiences and views all the things of time from a distance and as if they were nothing. Hence when we approach God by the way of negation, we first deny him everything that can be experienced by the body, the senses, and the imagination, secondly even things experienceable by the intellect, and finally even being itself in so far as it is found in created things. This, so far as the nature of the way is concerned, is the best means of union with God, according to Dionysius."
Contemplation teaches us a different way to approach God, it is truly an ancient pilgrimage from the mind to the heart no longer just a mere set of environmental beliefs but a felt intimacy that stirs within the heart. Saint John of the Cross writes, "Contemplation is a science of love. It is an infused, loving knowledge of God." The contemplative life comes only from mirroring God's way, a soul to experience the Divine Presence depends on the gift of Grace. The Beloved only dispenses graces to the soul at His discretion, we can only feel His love by grace alone which implants the attraction towards God.
To receive the Spirit's blessings, we must be devotionally sincere in heart keeping our intention on God. *Thomas Merton writes, “True contemplation is ‘the place of true rest;’ where God himself is experienced, passively, in rest and deepest secrecy. It is a place of security, in mercy which is not fickle and unstable but endures forever. It is an awareness of God’s will, as it were, pressing down on us with his mercy so that we are truly his and cannot doubt of it. Here God is seen in peace and quiet because he himself brings peace and quiet to our souls. He pours into our heart’s peace, confidence, assurance, and love. He pacifies all curiosity, all striving of the mind, all strain, all agitation of the interior and exterior senses. St. Bernard writes: “The tranquillity of God tranquillise's all about him, and the contemplation of his rest is rest to the soul.” So great is the power of God over the soul here that there are no longer any distractions, no desires, no anxieties, no cares. The place of true peace (that passeth all understanding).” -*Thomas Merton A Course in Christian Mysticism
ST JOHN OF THE CROSS