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A form of mental prayer in which meditation and petition give way to quiet adoration of the mysteries of God. Contemplation is the fruit of divine grace. It comes after a period of recollection and self-abandonment. Daily concerns vanish and exclusive attention is given to the mysteries of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and Redemption. Active imagination gives way to waiting and listening. God is sought and found within the self as divine dwelling-place. The contemplative way may lead through phases of spiritual dryness, often called "nights." Its summit is conscious participation in the very life of God, metaphorically called the state of "spiritual marriage." Forms of contemplation are found in all great religions. It is described in the Upanishads and by the sûfîs of Islam. The experience of contemplation does not guarantee the orthodoxy of its expression. Yet the great Christian contemplatives remain within the parameters of faith as their experience rests upon the mediation of Christ and is nurtured by the gifts of the Spirit. While contemplation is not experienced by all believers, it may be desired by all, and such a desire is already God's grace. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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