Means For Meditation
Most of us have had the experience of being
apart from a loved one for a time, and have
felt a longing to be together once again.
When this happens, the mind is occupied in
thinking about what the loved one is doing
or feeling at the time, and the heart feels
a deep yearning to touch their heart once
again. At times, in prayer, we have a similar
experience of yearning for God's presence
deep in our hearts, and our minds engage
in thinking about Him. This type of prayer
is called meditation, or mental prayer.
Mary provides the perfect model of
as St Luke commented: "Mary kept
these things, pondering them in her
(Luke 2.19). Mary reflected deeply
meaning and events in her life with
when she prayed.
The choice of content sets the stage
meditation, and helps to guide it to
end. The Word of God, particularly
provides the best content for meditative
prayer. The teachings of the Church
writings of the Saints also provide
In pondering the Word of God, the voice
a well-formed conscience is an important
guide in discerning the depths of meaning.
Asking the Spirit to aid meditation
the gift of wisdom is crucial in supporting
the natural light of reason, which,
mortal nature, can often be the source
Meditation makes use of the interior
of imagination, intellect, and will.
helps us explore the content of the
while the intellect guides our pondering
of the meaning, and the will provides
strength to take the meditation to
St John of the Cross explains meditation
in this way: "Meditation…is a
action wrought by means of images,
and figures that are fashioned and
by the interior senses, as when we
Christ crucified, or bound to the column,
or at another of the stations; or when
imagine God seated upon a throne with
majesty; or when we consider and imagine
glory to be like a most beauteous light,
etc.; or when we imagine all kinds
things, whether Divine or human, that
belong to the imagination." (Ascent
of Mount Carmel, II:12.3)
The following poem explores the experience
of a typical meditation and provides
insight into the role of meditation
Stage Of The Soul
As the eyes close, the curtain lifts;
A miracle opens the scene.
Luke narrates as the story shifts,
To ponder ten lepers made clean.
The Lord's lesson of gratitude,
Taught by the leper who returned,
Helps me question my attitude -
Is the Lord's grace embraced or spurned?
Meditation touches the soul:
Imagination sets the stage,
The intellect retains control,
As the Word's absorbed off the page.
By this means, the heart can be changed,
To reflect what the soul pondered:
No longer from the Word, estranged,
Nor scattered as the mind wandered.
To ponder with proficiency
Sates the heart's deep deficiency.
Holy Spirit, grant us Wisdom,
To enlighten our faculties;
In our hearts, form heaven's kingdom,
And guide us onward by degrees. Amen.
St John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel
Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs
(c) Paul Buis, 2005