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Video – Difference between meditation and contemplation?

October 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Dan Burke, Fr. Bartunek, Meditation, Prayer, Videos

Meditation and Contemplation: What is the Difference?
A Short Video Resource on Prayer
Fr John Bartunek

Fr John Bartunek

Dan Burke

Dan Burke

Father John Bartunek and Dan Burke discuss the difference between meditation and contemplation. Dan references the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church with its clear writing on the differences and similarities between these two forms of Catholic prayer. Father John succinctly discusses the one major thing they share in common and the key difference between them.



theBetterPartCoverSmallEditor’s Note: To learn more about the spiritual life and to dig deeper in your relationship with Christ through Christian meditation, please consider purchasing Fr. John’s fantastic book, The Better Part – A Christ Centered Resource for Personal Prayer.


Art: The cover of Father John Bartunek’s book “The Better Part” is used with permission. Pictures of Father John Bartunek and Dan Burke used with permission.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the President of the Avila Foundation, the parent organization of, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, Divine Intimacy Radio and Divine Intimacy Radio - Resources Edition, Into the Deep Parish Programs, the Apostoli Viae (Apostles of the Way) Community, and the FireLight Student Leadership Formation Program, author of the award-winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God, Finding God Through Meditation-St. Peter of Alcantara, 30 Days with Teresa of Avila, Into the Deep, Living the Mystery of Merciful Love: 30 Days with Thérèse of Lisieux, and his newest book The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila. Beyond his "contagious" love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN's National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN's Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Barb Rainbolt

    Thank you! This was very helpful.

  • Catherine Olbrych

    That’s puzzled me for ages!  Thanks so much! 🙂

  • Neil MacDonald

    I also have never quite understood the difference and now I do and will apply it always. Thank you for this.

  • H. W. Gomez

    Thank you so much for the video. It has helped me to understand more about the differences between meditation and contemplation.

  • LizEst

    Thank you Dan and Father John! This is so clear! I am sending this link along!

    • Thank you – your response is exactly what we hope folks will do with these videos.

  • Mike M.

    Thanks Dan & Fr. John. I love these videos.

  • Bburck

    Thanks so much!  This makes the similarity and differences between the two very clear.  These videos are beautifully done and I look forward to more.

  • Clare

    Perfect explanation, simple is always better. Thanks. I’ll be taking this to my Catechesis group on our subject of prayer.

  • jbinjc

    The difference is much clearer! But does contemplation always result in consolation, since God is the one ‘at work’? If one is in a state of desolation, then is contemplative prayer not possible, since there is no ‘sense’ of God’s presence? 

    • Ben

      Even though God is the principal agent, a time of contemplation is not always a time of consolation. According to Saint John of the Cross, for one, it seems more likely that desolation is when we can open up to contemplation in the first place! After all, he makes “dark night starts” and “contemplation starts” to happen at the same time. Contemplation must somehow be compatible with bad times! =)

  • Ramaniew

    Thank you Fr John and Dan,
    Now I understand and it is very clear. God Bless you both

  • Dan, great video! Good content and I like the format, music, everything. well done!

    • Thanks Tim!

      Sent from my iPad

    • LizEst

      Thanks for all the work you do on this site. It’s most excellent. God bless you, Tim.

  • Thank you, Father John and Dan.  Now this old gal  is a more wiser than she has been about these two types of Prayer. A beautiful, simple, direct and understandable explanation. God bless you both.

  • Joanna

    Thank you Fr John and Dan.  That was a really helpful explanation.  Could you perhaps one day explain meditation and contemplation in St Ignatius and St Theresa of Avila as I still find their teaching very confusing.  

  • Philip Johnson

    This is outstanding!

  • Patty Williams

    Thank you both for answering a question that I’ve always wondered about.

    • You are welcome!

      Sent from my iPad

  • $19933969

    Thank you both – I was a little late in reading this – but kept saving the e-mail because I wanted to know the answer! This was extremely helpful and clear – God bless you both.

  • domnus michael

    just the first time to visit this site. its a good source of spiritual direction specially to those who relate to english language. i am a postulant here in austria. thanks for your initiative.

    • LizEst

      Welcome domnus michael! We are happy to have you among us. God bless you and keep you!

      • domnus michael

        God bless you to Liz! I will pray for your intention too.

        • LizEst

          Thank you so much domnus michael! I’ll say a prayer for you as well.

    • Great to have you with us DM – please spread the word about is in Austria!

      • domnus michael

        thanks dan. extend my gratitude to fr. john.

  • Sarah

    Thanks Fr. John & Dan great video. What saddens me is that contemplation is considered to be a gift and I’m still quite confused whether I have this gift or not. Ive always been a very religious and faithful person and don’t even know if I’ve got any of the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

  • Pingback: | Catholic Spiritual Direction | How Can I Avoid False Teachings on Prayer? (Part I of III) / Catholic Spiritual Direction()

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