What Happens To Us in Meditation?
Through your own study of books and internet articles you will come across many excellent explanations of "Lectio Divina". These are available from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds.
What follows here is merely one perspective which attempts at the same time to give some practical suggestions. They are only suggestions — NEVER prescriptions! However, we do recommend that whatever routine you find works best for you, hold fast to it until you decide it needs modification. Try not to "chop and change".
Meditation is essentially simple, and we should not complicate it with procedures. We hope this helps you find a routine suited to your life-style and approach to prayer. It is simple; we are called to Listen in the same way we are called to Love: — with all our heart, our soul, our mind and strength. (Mark 12: 30).
However, in prayer, as in any other worthwhile pursuit, we soon discover the benefits of being guided by a disciplined approach, and taking it one step at a time.
This short article is not so much an explanation of "Lectio Divina" as what happens when we come into the presence of the Divine Word and allow ourselves to be bathed in this loving presence.
We Listen to God
In Mark 9: 7 we read God's only spoken command in the New Testament; "This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him". Listening is the basis of our prayer and meditation. When we talk of "listening to Jesus" we mean listening to the holy and eternal Word of God. Jesus is the Word of God. In him, God's message of love for us is perfectly embodied (John 1). All scripture points to Jesus our Way, Truth, and Life. It is a "listening-to-do" that we are talking about: to know God's will and to do it.
We Rest with God
Stop! Rest! Don't try to do anything! Be still! Meditation is Sabbath time with the Lord, when we celebrate our divine origin and heritage as children of God. It is time to rest with God — to catch our breath with God — to contemplate the God of all creation. It is a time of union,
restoration, refreshment for God's own designs, not ours. It is not a time for mastery over the body or any part of creation. If necessary we use techniques to relax and help settle down, so that we can be one with ourselves and God. It is time to celebrate with joy the harmony and magnificence of creation and our place in it.
We Commune with God
St Paul wrote, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Colossians 3: 16). We keep this word of Christ present by gently recalling a chosen word, phrase, or verse or (if need be) passage from the Bible. It is a time to listen, to behold, to treasure. We do this in the spirit of Deuteronomy 11: 18 and 19 as a means of keeping God's Word before us at all times. Because God is present we try to avoid them, but we do not become focused on trying to stop distractions. We let them come and go, and simply return to God's Word. We listen within to God's word and allow His presence to draw us closer to Him.
We Dwell with God
St Paul wrote, "God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2: 6). The risen Christ prays unceasingly to the Father for us. So we never pray alone or at the prompting of our spirit. We pray through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ and our spirit unite in one voice. It is then it truly can be said we are with our Saviour where he wants us to be.
We Trust in God
We emphasise, it is at this point we must place our total trust in God and consciously proceed in a confident manner with life as it unfolds for us.
And so we therefore pause — and then gently rise and go about our duties.
When it is time to bring our meditation to a close, we allow a short period for adjusting back to our ordinary routines. Even very brief prayers can help us return peacefully to our daily duties in a prayerful manner. This helps maintain an important link between stillness and activity. It avoids an unnatural or false separation of prayer and action, or of the spiritual and the physical. It also helps us to allow the LIFE of Christ to radiate gently and unobtrusively around us.
We need to keep in perspective the very important teaching of our Lord in these words:
We have spent time in the prayer of rest because He first called us. Let us not get it the wrong way round. He first called us. What we have to do at this point is to remember this and act accordingly, and live life to the full.
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