Friday, September 11, 2020 –
Oh good! You’re back for more of our Super Basic Primer on Prayer! Woot! Today and tomorrow we will be covering INTERNAL PRAYER. Today’s topic is MEDITATIVE prayer, and tomorrow we will cover contemplative prayer. For the record, our older sources do not separate out meditative vs. contemplative prayer, but since the Catechism does, well, we will follow suit. In fact, our older sources really only reference meditative, which works for today’s lesson.
Anyhoo, be forewarned that we will be inter-splicing a bit more from our Catholic Dictionary, as well as adding a little knowledge from a **new** source: Outlines of the Catholic Faith by Leaflet Missal Company over the next day or so.
Right, back to MEDITATEVE (INTERNAL) PRAYER! Naturally, we will start with our Baltimore Catechism and finish off the Q&As we saw yesterday:
Q. 1100. How many kinds of prayer are there?
A. There are two kinds of prayer:
1. Mental prayer, called meditation, in which we spend the time thinking of God or of one or more of the truths He has revealed, that by these thoughts we may be persuaded to lead holier lives;… . (Baltimore Catechism #3, Lesson 28: On Prayer)
And digging a little deeper…
Q. 304. What is prayer?
A. Prayer is the lifting up of our minds and hearts to God to adore Him, to thank Him for His benefits, to ask His forgiveness, and to beg of Him all the graces we need whether for soul or body.
…Mental prayer, therefore, is the best, because in it we must thing; we must pay attention to what we are doing, and lift up our minds and hearts to God;…(Baltimore Catechism #4, Lesson 28: On Prayer, p. 273)
The big difference we are seeing already between vocal and mental/meditative prayer is that rather than just saying the “Our Father” or speaking our prayers our loud, we are spending time thinking about God and/or thinking about the faith and the God’s Truth. We cannot be mindless while trying to pray mentally! Bishop Morrow, naturally, agrees:
181. For Whom, When, and Where to Pray
How many kinds of prayer are there? …
1. Mental prayer is that prayer by which we unite our heats with God while thinking of His holy truths.
This kind of prayer is also called “meditation”: in it we spend the time thinking of God or of certain truths He has revealed, and by such mediation we hope to become better. Priests and religious have daily mediation. (Bishop Morrow, My Catholic Faith, p. 375)
Once again, we see thinking, thinking, thinking. About what? God and His holy truths! BUT…when we crack open our Catechism, we see that MEDITATION is more thank just thinking happy thoughts about God. For today’s post, I am going to go backwards and start with the “In Brief,” and then follow it up with the larger section on meditation.
2723 Meditation is a prayerful quest engaging thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. Its goal is to make our own in faith the subject considered, by confronting it with the reality of our own life.
Ooo… “quest!” Well then, that is a bit different from just thinking about God and His truths. Now we are questing! And what do we mean by quest? Well…
2705 Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking. The required attentiveness is difficult to sustain. We are usually helped by books, and Christians do not want for them: the Sacred Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, holy icons, liturgical texts of the day or season, writings of the spiritual fathers, works of spirituality, the great book of creation, and that of history the page on which the “today” of God is written.
2706 To meditate on what we read helps us to make it our own by confronting it with ourselves. Here, another book is opened: the book of life. We pass from thoughts to reality. To the extent that we are humble and faithful, we discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
2707 There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly, lest they come to resemble the three first kinds of soil in the parable of the sower. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.
2708 Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. 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.
So, while vocal prayer engaged our voice, our body, meditative prayer engages our faculties (mind), our “thoughts, imagination, emotion, and desire.” Instead of running through prayers in our mind, we are pausing to really think about what that prayer means. Or, we pull out a Catholic book (or blog), and stop to consider not just the words on the page, but we search—we quest—for what God wants us to learn and do from and with those words.
In short, in meditative prayer we are reflecting on whatever Truth or text is before us and opening our hearts and minds to God’s Will and His Truths in order to better our understanding of the Christian life and what the Lord asks of us.
Whew! That’s some deep thoughts!
Mother of Christ, pray for us!