Reflect, Contemplate, Consider
by Rev. Paul Corman
By the time that you read this, the Christmas season and the strange year 2020 may well have ended and a new one, 2021, may have begun. It is logical, in the sacred days and nights of Christmas, and even if the holy nights have ended, we can well take advantage of what they provide for and encourage us to do: think about what has been and what is to come. In ancient Rome, the 1st of January, indeed, the entire month, was dedicated to the god Janus. He was the god of the state, the god of doors, beginnings, portals, transitions, endings, changes, steps in any process and transformations. Vicissitudes and the uncertainties of life were associated with him, and one looked to him for help in these situations. The doors and thresholds to homes, public buildings, even places of worship, were consecrated to him. He symbolised the becoming in life and evolution. He was depicted with two faces, one looked back, contemplating and watching over the past; the other face looked forward, contemplating and watching over the future. He could look back and ahead at the same time.
We can find in the figure of Janus much of what Christ later incarnated and brought down to Earth, especially the reality of becoming. However, Christ inserted a new element into all that Janus represented. Christ permeated vicissitude and uncertainty with hope, faith and trust, and above all with divine love, as a driving force of destiny, of what already was, but still in need of being understood and amended or perhaps forgiven or thanked, and also of all that was as yet to come. In addition to being just logical, looking back and forward during this season of transition of the years, it can be said that we have an obligation to take a few moments, day or night, to enter into what Janus represents: a contemplation of what was and a consideration of what will come, while reflecting on what Christ has given us to care for and apply to living: His love. There is a saying that elucidates this: "What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” With these words we arrive again at this festival time, which reveals the essence and work of Christ as it is expressed all year long in the Act of Consecration of Man: "Christ in us.” In this time of year so propitious to looking both back and forward, we can find ourselves engaged in the three different, but compatible, thought processes mentioned above: contemplation, consideration, reflection.
Reflection has to do with a mirror and the image it “reflects”. This form of thinking is excellent for analysing a project or problem, but not as useful for appreciating a work of art. When we reflect, we take distance from the object of our reflection, perhaps weighing what course of action we should take with respect to it. We are, in some way or other, seeking what to do, how best to engage our will in relation to the object. Reflection belongs more to the world of God the Father. It is a moon–like event.
In contemplation we become more mindful of our heart than of our intellect. When we contemplate something, we are looking to think of it "with-the-temple", the abode of the divine. We take into the temple of our soul, the object of our contemplation in hopes that divine light will illuminate our thoughts from within. We hope that Christ will be at home in the temple of our being, in our contemplations. It is more of a sun–like happening.
In consideration, our intention is to think about something with the stars, the “sidereal”. We make an inward movement to approach the world of the stars and ideals, the source of divine thinking, to give the spiritual world an opportunity to be present in our earthly thinking. Consideration can bring us into the sphere of the Holy Spirit through its affinity to the cosmic world and workings of the stars.
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