I believe God's greatest plan for us is to perfect us in love. We are called to love God and love others with Christlike sacrifice and abandon. In order to get to this place we need to be able to abide in God's love (John 15:1-9). The way we abide in God's love is through contemplation which should be the ultimate goal of all prayer. Contemplation is a state of beholding God and union with him. Through contemplation we encounter God. It is ultimately a gift but we can place ourselves in a state that is best able to receive this gift and then it is ultimately a work that God does in us as we surrender to him more completely. As we behold Christ frequently we come to know just how dependent we are on him. We recognize our spiritual poverty. Like St. Catherine of Sienna's revelation, we become aware that we are the ones who are not and God is the one who is. As we surrender to this knowledge, he strips away the layers that keep us at arms length from him. He often uses circumstances in our life to open our eyes to our own weakness and dependence on him. It should be our goal to walk in a state of contemplative prayer, leaning back in Christ in everything we do; learning to live and move and have our being in Christ (Acts 17:28), making the prayer of St. Patrick a reality.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand, Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
How do we know when we have come to this place? We will know when even in the midst of the storms of life, we have a peace and calm in our soul, trusting in God with our whole being in reckless abandon. We may even think we have arrived at this place; after all we have overcome some incredible obstacles, keeping our eyes fixed on Christ, surrendering and trusting in him through the hardships in life. Then it seems the ante is raised, our faith is shaken or the circumstances in our life once again causes us to be distracted. Where it was becoming easy to lean back in Christ, contemplating on him all day long, making our life a prayer, suddenly a distraction is thrown into the mix and we come to an even deeper understanding of our reliance on him and that we can do nothing apart from him. Once again we are called to surrender, trust, and lean back in Christ, letting him more fully take the reins.