On Meditation and Contemplative Prayer

sd via dwightlockenecker.com

Meditation and Contemplative prayer allows us to silence a great many distractions in our lives. In meditation, such as Lectio Divina, we can read the text and ask the Lord, “What am I to learn?” In this form, our minds are allowed to explore and be illuminated rather than be reactive as modernity has trained our minds. Finally, Contemplative prayer as CCC 2715 explains, “is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me.” The gift given allows us to order our will with the renunciation of our individualistic desires.

One technique that is described in Fr. Michael Casey’s book Toward God is Lectio Divina, which he describes as holy reading. (p. 67) The reading of scripture is not the same as reading the books of the Bible in a narrative form but rather with reverence and meditation. Fr. Casey explains that “one needs to be convinced that the text of the Bible being used is substantially accurate. If one is reading for a more theological standpoint, a Bible that is translated into a more literal translation may be preferred over a dynamic translation which is better suited for narrative uses of scripture.

Fr. Casey illustrates further that when practicing the technique of holy reading, one must process through the text at a much slower pace and with a vocalized prayer to focus more intently on each word. (p.71) The process may take as long as a year to read a single book of scripture. However, as the Catechism reflects in paragraph 2708: “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary 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.”The process becomes naturally efficacious because it allows the text to continually speak to us within the parameters of our own lives and develop a greater appreciation for the nurturing word of God.

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