Daily Thought For August 14, 2019

Meditation Leads To Prayer

Is meditating already a form of praying, too? “Meditation is above all a quest” (CCC 2705). Meditation means, first of all, reflection about the articles of faith. Therefore to meditate is not yet to pray, but it should lead to prayer. For in pondering what God has to say to us through his Word, through the things in nature and the events in history, prayer can be “enkindled”, and meditation can become prayer.

Father Leppich, the great Jesuit preacher and founder of “Action 365”, encouraged Christians to make even the daily newspaper an occasion for meditation. This of course demands serious thought about the events in the world, reflection that does not merely take the news as grist for an insatiable curiosity, but rather seeks God’s purpose and method in all things. What does God want to say to us through this earthquake, through that war, perhaps through a small, seemingly “insignificant” item among the announcements of the day? The Bible is the great school of meditation: it teaches us not to read the events of history as merely an endless chain of incidents, but rather to recognize God’s hand in them and to hear his Word speaking to us through them.…

Meditation begins when we go beyond the surface of events, of stories, of texts, and run into traces of the living God; when it is no longer a matter of quenching our thirst for knowledge, of understanding with our reason, but rather of answering the personal question that crops up in meditation: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (CCC 2706).

So it happened with Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who through his Spiritual Exercises has become for many a teacher of meditation. In the long period of recuperation after his injury in Pamplona, he discovered the method of regular, orderly meditation upon his own life (examination of conscience), but especially upon the life of Christ, so as to see and order his own life in the mirror of Jesus and to make the right decisions according to God’s will. The fundamental meditation (Ignatius calls it “principle and foundation”) concerns man’s final goal, eternal salvation, toward which all thought and actions should be directed. Meditation finds its daily nourishment, preferably, in the Gospel, in the deeds and sufferings of Jesus, in his words and his attitudes.

The goal of meditation is to “internalize” the subject meditated upon, no longer to reflect only upon its exterior, but to taste it from within. What methods to use is a secondary question; they should assist with recollection, with engaging the imagination, with interior and exterior discipline. They can prepare us for the grace that is sought and prayed for in meditation: “that I may know [Christ] and the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:10).

Schönborn, C. (2003). Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Paths of Prayer. (M. J. Miller, Trans.) (Vol. 4, pp. 76–77). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.

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