Meditation: have you tried it?

Woman Praying in Church - Jean-Baptiste Jules Trayer
"Meditation", it seems to me, gets a bad Christian rap.  Either we figure it's some loosey-goosey New Agey thing, or we figure it is for mystics - not mere mortals like us.

But meditation is at the heart of Christian prayer.  Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:

 2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the "today" of God is written.
2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: "Lord, what do you want me to do?"
2707 There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. 

As the Catechism says, Scripture is a great place to start.  But meditation isn't just reading or thinking about Scripture.  It goes deeper than that.

If you're unsure where to start in terms of meditation, try this.  Choose a Gospel story, and read it through.  (Not the whole Gospel, silly, just a story...)  Then go back over it more slowly.  Pick out some details.  As you are reading it again, put yourself in the scene.  Where is this taking place?  What do you see, smell, hear?  What is it you notice around you?  Most importantly, where is Christ?  What is it you notice about Him?  What is He saying to you as you place yourself in front of Him in this particular place and circumstance?  How do you respond?

While this can be a bit of an exercise in imagination, it's more than that.  It's placing yourself in the Presence of Christ, using Scripture as the "tool" (although that's a bit of a crude word for Scripture).

If you've always stuck with a "tried-and-true" method of prayer, and haven't really been able to meditate, try this.  It's likely you will find it a fruitful addition to your prayer life, and with Holy Week coming up, why wait?

2 comments:

  1. I find music can be a great way to meditate. Even if you just choose a song and pray the words paying attention to what the Holy Spirit is trying to say. Also the Taize prayer hymns are great. The repetitive nature of the songs lend themselves to easy meditation for beginners.

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