Contemplation is nothing else than this: a loving gaze between a lover and the one liked. To be individuals of leisure requires that we’re individuals of contemplation. If we’re, we’ll expertise a foretaste of heaven…
As the varsity yr is nicely underway, it might be worthwhile to look at the position which leisure performs in our lives. Though all of us worth our trip time and take pleasure in moments of rest, leisure in its truest type appears to be a forgotten follow on this day and age.
To start, when an try is made to be at leisure, there are lots of distractions which prohibit its follow. A few of these embrace the fixed stimulation with know-how to which we topic ourselves. Due to this, we are sometimes out of contact with actuality, and not experiencing the thrill which creation brings. This leads to taking individuals, conditions, and the objects round us without any consideration. The stress and busyness of our schedules, whether or not of a steady work schedule or with the additional actions we impose upon ourselves, typically result in disturbing lives and a lot unhappiness.
Although this distress isn’t the meant end result of any of the choices that we make, maybe we’d like a reminder of what it means to be at leisure. In any case, it isn’t merely the person who suffers as a result of a scarcity of leisure. Society as an entire is affected, for, because the German thinker Josef Pieper famously famous, leisure is the idea of tradition.
Earlier than we look at what leisure entails, it is very important observe what leisure isn’t. Leisure just isn’t a deliberate trip. A trip entails extra work than merely discovering oneself a free afternoon with out plans. Additionally, leisure can’t merely be outlined as “relaxing” by indulging in non-work-associated actions akin to enjoying video games, watching films, climbing, and even spending high quality time with buddies and household. Equally, leisure can’t solely be understood as a time without work from work or the sudden acquisition of free time. In his e-book Solely the Lover Sings, Pieper notes that any try and “organize ‘relaxation’” creates “an even more hectic, indeed an outright desperate, form of work.” For him, leisure have to be outlined in one other method: in accordance with contemplation.
Contemplation has all the time been related to seeing. It’s the seeing past what the human thoughts can comprehend. It permits us to know, in a deeper approach, divine realities. For this reason the philosophers all the time understood contemplation to be the very best exercise of man, for it permits him to enter into the divine on earth within the pursuit of understanding common truths.
In creating this hyperlink between contemplation and leisure, Pieper quotes Anaxagoras, a pre-socratic thinker, who was requested, “Why are you on earth?” Anaxagoras responded, “To behold.” This pertains to man’s finish: to behold the face of God. The psalmist confirms this, saying that he makes just one request of God: “to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:four). Contemplation is nothing else than this: a loving gaze between a lover and the one beloved. This, in reality, is an integral a part of our nature. We’re made to be at relaxation once we ponder, for, in so doing, we partake in an exercise most becoming for us. This, in flip, provides us peace and happiness.
Thus, leisure invitations us to behold extra than simply meets the bodily eye. In Leisure: The Foundation of Tradition, Pieper likens leisure to “the stillness in the conversation of lovers, which is fed by their oneness… And as it is written in the Scriptures. God saw, when ‘He rested from all the works that He had made’ that everything was good, very good (Genesis 1:31), just so the leisure of man includes within itself a celebratory, approving, lingering gaze of the inner eye on the reality of creation.” Simply as God rested by considering the goodness of His creation, we expertise true leisure by considering God’s goodness. Thus, leisure have to be all the time linked with contemplation, that’s, a loving gaze upon God.
Nevertheless, with a purpose to expertise leisure in its essence, we should first search Fact, encounter silence, expertise marvel, and discover ways to ponder. In his Metropolis of God, Saint Augustine speaks of leisure because the pursuit of, or the invention of, fact. Subsequently, to be able to be at leisure, we have to want the Fact and to actively search it. Any pursuit of the reality, as St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross reminds us, is a quest for God whether or not realized or not, as a result of all points of fact mirror the goodness of the Divine Fact. Thus, until we acknowledge that Fact is unchanging and is present in God alone, a way of leisure can’t be restored to society.
The pursuit of Fact requires silence. In an ever-advancing, self-figuring out society the idea of silence is turning into uncommon. Know-how appears to supersede human communication and turns into extra addictive to every rising era. This in flip results in a collection of private and societal issues through which we turn out to be immersed: habit, nervousness, melancholy, distorted views of actuality, the lack to speak, and poor well being. For this reason for leisure to be attainable and for Fact to be pursued, society should first “unplug” from devices so as to foster marvel and expertise the thrill of contemplation.
Silence additional fosters leisure because it causes self-reflection and a sure openness and understanding of ourselves and the world about us. Pieper remarks that “leisure is not the attitude of the one who intervenes but of the one who opens himself up; not of someone who seizes but who lets go, who lets himself go, and ‘go under,’ almost as someone falling asleep must let himself go.” This idea is essential to understand, for leisure is simply potential once we give up our want for management and permit ourselves to be open to the conditions round us and to be open to God’s grace.
As soon as this openness has been reached, we can be at peace. Pieper displays that leisure, in its purest type, takes place once we are at peace with ourselves and the remainder of creation. He writes: “Leisure is only possible in the assumption that man is not only in harmony with himself [whereas idleness is rooted in the denial of this harmony], but also in the agreement with the world and its meaning. Leisure lives on affirmation.” This peace with God, oneself, and others is an important basis to experiencing true leisure, for less than then will we be at relaxation.
Silence and peace in flip encourage marvel and contemplation. The world of marvel unlocks elements of humanity and creation in such a method that we can’t see or fathom until we take the time to immerse ourselves in its magnificence. This sense of marvel is generally initiated by an encounter with what’s Good, True, and Lovely. Marvel evokes a wholesome inquisitiveness which causes us to hunt solutions to common questions. It instills in us a sure stillness as we stare in full awe on the magnificence by which we’re surrounded. Marvel additional causes a self-indulgent and self-in search of society to beat its vices in order to the touch the divine. Thus, marvel units the stage for contemplation, which is important to the act of leisure.
Contemplation is significant to leisure as a result of the latter is, based on Pieper, a “condition of the soul.” This is the reason it’s important for humanity to expertise peace and marvel, for contemplation solely takes locations when the soul is at peace and when man is transcended outdoors of himself and into the divine.
In his 2007 homily at Saint Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI mirrored on the significance of a Christo-centric leisure. He famous that “if leisure time lacks an inner focus, an overall sense of direction, then ultimately it becomes wasted time that neither strengthens or builds us up.” Benedict XVI continued saying that leisure “requires a focus—the encounter with Him who is our origin and goal.” That is supported by Scripture. After Jesus sees the weariness of his followers, he tells the apostles to “come to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while” (Mk. 6:31). It’s by taking time to be in silence and separate themselves from the crowds that the apostles will start to be at relaxation. At one other time, Jesus invitations all to “come to him, all you who labor and are heavy burdened and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). Solely Christ brings true leisure.
Solely after discovering true leisure for ourselves can its results rework society, for leisure and contemplation encourage the humanities, one of many bases by which we perceive tradition. In Solely the Lover Sings, Pieper writes:
Each time the humanities are nourished via festive contemplation of common realities and their sustaining causes, there in fact one thing like liberation happens: the stepping-out into the open underneath an infinite sky, not just for the artistic artist himself however for the beholder as properly, even probably the most humble. Such liberation, such foreshadowing of the last word and good achievement, is important for man, virtually extra essential than his day by day bread, which is certainly indispensable and but inadequate.
The arts, fostered by contemplation, encourage marvel in those that expertise it. Marvel in flip incites a contemplative leisure and a want to pursue magnificence in its truest type.
It’s maybe this follow of leisure which, fostered by contemplation, impressed Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine Chapel or the Pietà. This similar apply might have triggered Bernini’s design of St. Peter’s colonnade to mirror the universality of the Church. Equally, the Ghent altarpiece can solely have resulted from the tranquility of a soul immersed within the contemplation of the liturgy and the sacrifice of the cross. This similar marvel, introduced on by a contemplative leisure, might have impressed numerous architects in designing the magnificent cathedrals of previous. Leisure made actual for composers comparable to Mozart, Vivaldi, and Verdi, the religious realities of life, dying, and resurrection. These truths in flip are conveyed via their compositions and handed right down to generations to ponder via music. These nice works and numerous others trigger us to marvel at their magnificence and provoke in us our personal contemplative musings.
We’ve finished ourselves a terrific disservice by succumbing to hectic schedules. By doing so, we now have forgotten each the significance and the true which means of leisure. To be individuals of leisure doesn’t imply having all commodities of life at our disposal, nor does it merely entail having fun with day off from work. To be individuals of leisure requires that we’re individuals of contemplation. If we’re, we’ll expertise what Pieper identifies as a foretaste of heaven. Solely then will we be really at relaxation, invariably resulting in nice cultural achievements and civic renewal.
Republished with gracious permission from Disaster Journal (September 2018).
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Editor’s Observe: The featured picture is “Lovers” (1869), by Pál Szinyei Merse. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.