Meditation

 “Not in thinking much, but in loving much”

St. Teresa of Jesus

The teachings of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Jesus suggest a method of meditation which is especially well adapted for bringing souls to divine intimacy and preparing them for contemplation. St. John of the Cross states that the purpose of meditation is to obtain some knowledge and love of God. This idea of prayer as  ‘loving knowledge’ is supported by St. Teresa who instructs that prayer  is  “not in thinking much, but in loving much”. Therefore meditation may be perceived as an exercise in love.

St. John of The Cross

The following meditation method is from the instruction report of St. John of the Cross’ to his novices.

“The first thing is to summon up the mysteries of Jesus by imagining them.”

Observe Jesus at His birth, on the Cross, on Mt Tabor, in Gethsemane.

“Then ponder in your mind the mystery you have evoked.”

Enter into His pain, suffering, weakness, hunger, loneliness.

“Third, attentiveness to God, in loving stillness; this is where the fruit of the other activites is plucked and where the door of the mind in opened to God’s light.”

During this time we are ‘with Jesus’. Simply loving, desiring, listening and adoring Him.

 

St Teresa of  Jesus

Meditation, like meditative reading, is a means to attain to the heart of prayer, which is for St. Teresa, “nothing but a friendly conversation with Him we know loves us.”

Before reading the point of meditation, we place ourselves in the presence of God seeking, through the action of our wills, to put aside, as much as possible, all distracting thoughts.  God is always present to us…the problem is that we are not present to Him. Therefore we must establish contact with Our Lord by a ‘conscious’ realization of His presence.

This can be done by meditating on the Holy Trinity within our hearts, by seating ourselves before the Lord present in the Tabernacle, or by picturing ourselves interiorly at a scene in the life and Passion of Jesus. Therefore in the presence of God, and conscious of His loving gaze, we read the point of meditation tranquilly, and reflect upon it calmly and gently, not as if reasoning with ourselves, but rather as if speaking to God in whose presence we are.

The more the soul becomes acquainted with this way of reflecting, the more quickly will the method attain its end, which is speaking affectionately with God as a son or daughter speaks to their father, as a friend to a friend.  The thoughts drawn from the meditation, and we may refer to the text when it is necessary, will serve to nourish this contact and give the soul a subject for conversation with God.

Meditation, like meditative reading is a means to attain to the heart of prayer, which, according to St. Teresa of Jesus, is ‘nothing but a friendly and frequent solitary conversation with Him who we know loves us’.  It makes no difference whether we attain this end by means of meditation, or reading, or even by slow repetitive vocal prayer. All these ways are beneficial.

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