Whether you’re trying to put together a piece of furniture or trying to figure out a new computer application there’s a well-known catch phrase, “If all else fails, read the directions.” I’ve been known to live by that sort of thinking myself, since figuring it out for yourself is a greater challenge, like solving a puzzle. If you mess up your new bookshelf, though, you’re probably going to be okay. I wouldn’t recommend rebuilding your cars transmission without some sort of training, though, because you’re risking a lot more.
In the same way, God hasn’t left us in the dark about what is necessary for salvation. He’s given us the Bible and the Church, He’s sent prophets and apostles to teach us His ways, and He’s sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to show us the way. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me” (Jn 14:6), and “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). One of the most fruitful things we can do for our spiritual life is to spend time every day meditating on the Passion, Cross, and Resurrection of Christ. You can do that by praying the Rosary and using it to meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ, praying the Stations of the Cross, other devotions that help you to meditate on the Cross, or reading the Gospels accounts of the Passion of Christ. These can be found in Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John 18-21.
Christian meditation is a form of mental prayer. It isn’t about emptying your mind or thinking about nothing; that isn’t prayer. Rather, meditation is the process of using your mind, your reason and imagination, to enter into the mysteries of the faith and apply them to your own life. You should begin by asking the Holy Spirit to guide your prayer. Then, read through the Bible passage your using, and don’t be tempted to use too long of a passage. You may find it useful to read it several times. Ask yourself what the Bible is saying in context. What does it teach you about God? What moral or spiritual lesson does it have? Sometimes it can be helpful to imagine yourself in the story as a witness or even as a participant. If you’re not sure about something look to the teachings of the Church, especially in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, to interpret the Bible. Then, apply it to your own life. What is God saying to me in this passage? How is God calling me to conversion and holiness? How can I apply this call to my own life? End you time of prayer by thanking the Lord.
When we do this the Bible, the mysteries of the faith, and the life of Christ stop being some far off thing and become something very personal. God can then use them to speak directly to you. During this Lent, prepare yourself for the Resurrection of the Lord and the everlasting life of heaven by spending some time meditating on the Cross of Christ.
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.