The Catechism of the Catholic Church #28
May 11, 1997
Brother John Raymond
Continuing our look at the Catechism's teaching on prayer this time I'll consider meditation. Meditation is very popular these days as it is recommended as a cure for stress, practiced by people in Eastern religions and a popular aspect of New Age practice. When the Catechism and I use the word meditation we mean a form of prayer, not just a pleasant quiet time spent in thought.
The Catechism teaches us, "Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking." (#2705) Meditation is a consideration, a "looking at" in order not only to understand but to respond with the correct action or decision.
To help us to meditate books are very helpful, such as Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels. We read and meditate upon what we read. "To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with oursevles." (#2706) And there are even books of written meditations, some of them following the Liturgical Year, that can be helpful.
By meditation we strive to receive the answer to the great question, "Lord what do you want me to do?" (#2706) And the answer to that, my friends, is what it's all about.
The Catechism goes on to tell us, "There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters." One thinks of the methods of St. Ignatius, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Jean Baptist de la Salle. Just to touch on one of these let's look at the Ignatian method. First, begin with the remote preparation (usually done the night before) of the subject of the meditation with some specific points that you will be considering. During the actual time of meditation begin by recalling to mind the subject you want to consider, use the imagination to picture the scene and ask God for a special grace from this meditation. In the body of the meditation ask yourself questions about the subject you are considering and perhaps come up with some answers. During the course of the meditation make acts of love (affective acts), especially at the end. After each point of the meditation you are considering make some practical resolution. End the meditation with short and intimate conversations with Jesus, Mary or the saints. Carefully review the entire meditation and conclude with a practical resolution for your life drawn from the subject considered.
There is also a very simple and helpful method known as C.A.R. It's like this
Consider perhaps a Gospel passage.
Apply the passage to your life.
Resolve make a resolution based on the application of a the passage to your life.
Methods of meditation can be a great help but they are only a guide. We must also let the Holy Spirit guide us as He wills.
The Catechism give us some very inspiring words "Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. This mobilization of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart and strenghten our will to follow Christ." (#2708)
Meditation is not only thinking or pondering. It is a cosideration that leads us somewhere or rather to Someone. "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."
Since meditation leads to a conversation with God I couldn't write about meditation without recommending a booklet Brother Craig wrote. It's called "Conversational Prayer" (Queenship Publishing) and is truly an aid to all kinds of prayer including meditation. This booklet has been well-received and many have written to Brother to tell him how much it has helped their prayer life. It can be ordered for $1.95 plus $1.00 postage from The Cloister Shop, The Monks of Adoration, 2241 Englewood Road, Englewood, FL 34223.