.- Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams addressed the synod of Catholic bishops on the New Evangelization about the importance of contemplation for reaching people in a post-Christian world.
“To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts,” the archbishop said Oct. 10. “With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow.”
He urged Christians to show to the world “the face of a humanity in endless growth towards love” and a humanity “so delighted and engaged” by the glory of God, stressing its importance for evangelization.
The Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization is meeting at the Vatican over the next three weeks to consider how to evangelize the contemporary world, especially those who are baptized but have drifted away from the Church.
Archbishop Williams told the synod that evangelization is “always an overflow of something else,” like the journey to maturity in Jesus Christ led by the Holy Spirit.
He said people recognize in contemplative practices the possibility of “living more humanly” with “space for stillness” and with an awareness of “solid and durable joy” discovered in the disciplines of self-forgetfulness.
Contemplating God in Jesus, he declared, teaches Christians “how to look at one another and at the whole of God’s creation.”
Archbishop Williams described contemplation as “the key” to prayer, liturgy, art, ethics, and “the essence of a renewed humanity” that is free from “self-oriented, acquisitive habits” and their distortions.
“To put it boldly, contemplation is the only ultimate answer to the unreal and insane world that our financial systems and our advertising culture and our chaotic and unexamined emotions encourage us to inhabit,” the Anglican archbishop said.
His comments referenced key Catholic theologians and writers like Henri de Lubac, Thomas Merton.
He said the Second Vatican Council, which opened 50 years ago, was “a sign of great promise” and a sign that the Church was “strong enough” to ask whether its culture and structures were adequate to sharing the gospel with the modern world.
He suggested “serious work” to examine how ecumenical, shared contemplative practices can help reach out to lapsed Christians and a “post-Christian public.”