Christian contemplation

Christian contemplation, from contemplatio (Latin; Greek θεωρία, theoria),[1] refers to several Christian practices which aim at "looking at", "gazing at", "being aware of" God or the Divine.[2][3][4] It includes several practices and theological concepts, and until the sixth century the practice of what is now called mysticism was referred to by the term contemplatio, c.q. theoria.

Russian Orthodox icon of the Transfiguration (Theophanes the Greek, c. 1408)

Christianity took up the use of both the Greek (theoria) and Latin (contemplatio, contemplation) terminology to describe various forms of prayer and the process of coming to know God. Eastern and Western traditions of Christianity grew apart as they incorporated the general notion of theoria into their respective teachings.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, "the Christian tradition comprises three major expressions of the life of prayer: vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer. They have in common the recollection of the heart."[5] Three stages are discerned in contemplative practice, namely purgative contemplation,[6][7] contemplation proper, and the vision of God.