Availing yourself to the presence of God after a fashion in which this practise is not notionally ordered, but which stands in a long line of others who have done likewise in Judeo-Christian tradition…this is what it means to be a contemplative.
Traditionally pointing to the witnesses of St. Augustine, St. Gregory, and St. Bernard, stress was placed on the character of this mysticism as a mysticism of light. Later mystics in the West witnessed to the lack of light as a complementary aspect of their contemplative life. These include St. John of the Cross, John Tauler, and Jon Ruysbroeck. There is an important distinction between these former and later contemplatives. But it is wrong to divide the two as if they were a different rank order of species.
Contemplatives are contemplatives for a reason, namely, that it is a vital reflection of who they really are, reflecting their intellect, memory, will, emotions, body, skills, experience, and psychology. All of this held under the sway of the practise of the presence of God.
This is a collective memory based upon the actual experience of the risen and living Christ. To neglect the healthy, life-giving, and conscious cultivation of this disposition in people and the church is to spiral into unhealthy and unconscious social neuroses.
Reading and committing to memory the words of God is an important part of both preparing for, opening oneself to, and expressing a willingness to participate in this presence.