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i heard some of the parishioners discussing contemplative prayer - not sure what that means, Fr Chris.

Priest's Answer:
       You ask a good question about contemplative prayer.  For a more in-depth read, you can look at articles 2700-2719 in the Catechism...over half (aa. 2709--2719) are about contemplative prayer.
       An old Carmelite once taught me the old four-part "ascent" of prayer: Lectio, Oratio, Meditatio, and Contemplatio.  These Latin words can be loosely translated: Reading, Vocal Prayer, Meditation, and Contemplation.  The type of prayer you ask about is the last.  My Carmelite mentor felt it was important to begin with the others as a spiritual way of "warming up."  So, allow me a few words on those.
        The reading is just that...some spiritual reading that one can read in a prayerful way.   Vocal prayer are (usually rote) prayers spoken aloud.  I forget which comes first here in the hierarchy, and it might very well be rote vocal prayers.
        Meditation is reflecting on the reading as an interior prayer.  It has an object, usually the words of sacred scripture.
        Contemplative prayer, to quote St. Teresa of Avila, is "loving conversation with a friend (a. 2709).  It is usually the fruit of prayer, for at its deepest, it is the Spirit praying through us.  It involves silence and quiet, making room for God....the latter articles speak of being united with the prayer of Jesus, a union of love, a gaze fixed on Christ, the gift of God, and other aspects of this intense type of prayer.

          This, I suspect, is what your fellow parishioners were speaking of.

I hope this helps

Grace and Peace,
Fr. Chris

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