You may have heard that St. Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604) defined contemplation as “resting in God.” Indeed, this quote is posted on the home page of The Contemplative Writer! This snippet is a condensed version of what St. Gregory really said, and I thought we should take a look at the full statement. It’s a wonderfully nuanced description of just what “resting in God” really means:

But the contemplative life is: to retain indeed with all one’s mind the love of God and neighbor, but to rest from all exterior action, and cleave only to the desire of the Maker, that the mind may now take no pleasure in doing anything, but having spurned all cares, may be aglow to see the face of its Creator; so that it already knows how to bear with sorrow the burden of the corruptible flesh, and with all its desires to seek to join the hymn-singing choirs of angels, to mingle with the heavenly citizens, and to rejoice at its everlasting incorruption in the sight of God. (Source)

Note that for Gregory, resting in God means:

  • Cleaving to our Maker
  • Being aglow to see the Creator
  • Bearing the burdens of the flesh
  • Desiring heaven


Gregory the Great (c. 540 – 604) was pope of the Catholic Church from 590 to 604. He was a contemplative, a missionary, a reformer, and a physician of souls. Read more here.

Reflection: How are prayer and contemplation like rest for you?