Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Making A Good Meditation

1. It is not enough simply to make a meditation. It ought to be made well. It is well made only when it results in an increase of solid virtue and sanctity. Meditation, moreover, should not be study, but mental prayer --- a raising of the mind to God, asking Him to illumine the darkness of our hearts, too often entangled with the things of the world, and to reinforce our wills, rescuing them from the violent attractions of evil and drawing them in the direction of virtue and sacrifice. To meditate is not to study, but to pray. Whoever loses himself in subtle investigations of Christian Doctrine in order to learn something or to be able to mystify others, is studying, not meditating. It would be even worse to let one's imagination wander off into a kind of pseudo-mystic daydream.

Let us be quite clear about this. Meditation is not a waste of time, but a very serious occupation. It consists in placing ourselves in the presence of God, in admitting to Him our misery and weakness, in thinking about the eternal truths so that our minds may be enlightened, and in aiming at a Christian self-renewal through the making and carrying out of good resolutions.

2. Some people claim that they cannot concentrate for any great length of time on meditation. In their case it is very helpful to combine mental and vocal prayer. Short ejaculations, and expressions of love for God and of an ardent desire for holiness, can restore the atmosphere of recollection, making the intellect more attentive, the heart more fervent, and the entire spiritual exercise more profitable.

When our minds wander or grow drowsy, we must pull ourselves together by placing ourselves once more in God's presence and beginning to converse with Him in a humble and loving fashion. We must remember how much we need Him and how anxious He is to inspire and help us. We are so poor and weak; He is infinitely powerful and strong. We are lost in darkness; He is the Light which illumines every man who is travelling through this world.

3. Alessandro Manzoni was once asked how he had managed to penetrate so deeply into the human mind. Newton was asked how he had succeeded in discovering the law of universal gravity. Manzoni's reply was: "By thinking about it." Newton's was: "By thinking intensely."

Now, in our meditations we must reveal ourselves to ourselves, which is a very difficult thing to do. It is nevertheless supremely important, because its purpose is not literary or scientific but is the eternal salvation of our souls. The attaining of such a purpose demands serious application on our part, as well as earnest prayer that God will guide us so that we may lead lives which will be in union with Him and directed towards their eternal goal, the enjoyment of the Beatific Vision of God. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus always held that anybody who was careful to spend at least ten minutes every day in devout meditation was certain of salvation.

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