The purpose of Christian meditation–and all Christian prayer–is to lead us to a closer union with God through Christ. The Triune God should be the focus of our prayer. We seek Him alone. In meditation, we seek to understand His character better, to understand what He requires of us. Then we express our desire for union with Him through thoughts, words, feelings, and even groans (see Romans 8:26). And, yes, sometimes with brief moments of silence.
Wherever we may be, Our Lord urges us to be vigilant. His plea should lead us to hope more strongly in our desires for holiness and to translate them into deeds. “Give me your heart, my son” (Prov 23:26), he seems to whisper in our ear. Stop building castles in the air. Make up your mind to open your soul to God, for only in Our Lord will you find a real basis for your hope and for doing good to others. If we don’t fight against ourselves; if we don’t rebuff once and for all the enemies lodged within our interior fortress — pride, envy, the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes, self‑sufficiency, and the wild craving for licentiousness; if we abandon this inner struggle, our noblest ideals will wither “like the bloom on the grass; and when the scorching sun comes up the grass withers, and the bloom falls, and all its fair show dies away”. Then, all you need is a tiny crevice and discouragement and gloom will creep in, like encroaching poisonous weeds.
Jesus is not satisfied with a wavering assent. He expects, and has a right to expect, that we advance resolutely, unyielding in the face of difficulties. He demands that we take firm, specific steps; because, as a rule, general resolutions are just fallacious illusions, created to silence the divine call which sounds within our hearts. They produce a futile flame that neither burns nor gives warmth, but dies out as suddenly as it began.
You will convince me that you sincerely want to achieve your goals when I see you go forward unwaveringly. Do good and keep reviewing your basic attitudes to the jobs that occupy you each moment. Practice the virtue of justice, right where you are, in your normal surroundings, even though you may end up exhausted. Foster happiness among those around you by cheerfully serving the people you work with and by striving to carry out your job as perfectly as you can, showing understanding, smiling, having a Christian approach to life. And do everything for God, thinking of his glory, with your sights set high and longing for the definitive homeland, because there is no other goal worthwhile.
– St Josemaria, Friends of God, 211
Coming closer to God means being ready to be converted anew, to change direction again, to listen attentively to his inspirations – those holy desires he places in our souls – and to put them into practice. – St Josemaria, The Forge, 32
We are at the beginning of Lent: a time of penance, purification and conversion. It is not an easy program, but then Christianity is not an easy way of life. It is not enough just to be in the Church, letting the years roll by. In our life, in the life of Christians, our first conversion — that unique moment which each of us remembers, when we clearly understood everything the Lord was asking of us — is certainly very significant. But the later conversions are even more important, and they are increasingly demanding. To facilitate the work of grace in these conversions, we need to keep our soul young; we have to call upon our Lord, know how to listen to him and, having found out what has gone wrong, know how to ask his pardon.
“If you call upon me, I will listen to you,” we read in this Sunday’s liturgy. Isn’t it wonderful how God cares for us and is always ready to listen to us — waiting for man to speak? He hears us at all times, but particularly now. Our heart is ready and we have made up our minds to purify ourselves. He hears us and will not disregard the petition of a “humble and contrite heart.”
– St Josemaria, Christ is Passing, 57
As a child of God, with his grace in you, you have to be a strong person, a man or woman of desires and achievements. We are not hothouse plants. We live in the middle of the world, and we have to be able to face up to all the winds that blow, to the heat and the cold, to rain and storms, but always faithful to God and to his Church.
The work of the Church, each day, is like the weaving of a great fabric which we offer to God: because all of us who are baptized make up the Church. If we carry out our tasks, faithfully and selflessly, this great fabric will be beautiful and flawless. But if we loosen a thread here, a thread there, another over there… instead of a beautiful fabric we will have a tattered rag.
Pray to God that in the Holy Church, our Mother, the hearts of all may be one heart, as they were in the earliest times of Christianity; so that the words of Scripture may be truly fulfilled until the end of the ages: Multitudinis autem credentium erat cor unum et anima una ‑‑ the company of the faithful were of one heart and one soul. I am saying this to you in all seriousness: may this holy unity not come to any harm through you. Take it to your prayer.
Offer your prayer, your atonement, and your action for this end: ut sint unum! ‑‑ that all of us Christians may share one will, one heart, one spirit. This is so that omnes cum Petro ad Iesum per Mariam ‑‑ that we may all go to Jesus, closely united to the Pope, through Mary.
– St Josemaria, The Forge
Let us try, therefore, never to lose our supernatural outlook. Let us see the hand of God in everything that happens to us: both in pleasant and unpleasant things, in times of consolation and in times of sorrow, as in the death of someone we love. Your first instinct always should be to talk to your Father God, whom we should seek in the depths of our souls. And we cannot consider this a trivial or unimportant matter. On the contrary, it is a clear sign of a deep interior life, of a true dialogue of love. Far from being psychologically deforming, constant prayer should be for a Christian as natural as the beating of his heart. – St Josemaria, Friends of God
Someone who prays does not flee from reality; rather, he opens his eyes for reality as a whole. From Almighty God himself he receives the strength to cope with reality. Prayer is like going to a gas station where we get free fuel for our long journeys and extreme challenges. Praying does not lead out of reality but, rather, deeper into it. Praying does not take time away from other things but, rather, doubles the remaining time and fills it with intrinsic meaning.
Prayer is always possible. Prayer is vitally necessary. Prayer and life cannot be separated. You cannot keep God content with a few words in the morning or evening. Our life must become prayer, and our prayers must become life. Every Christian life story is also a story of prayer, one long attempt to achieve ever greater union with God. Because many Christians experience a heartfelt longing to be with God constantly, they turn to the so-called “Jesus prayer”, which has been an age-old custom particularly in the Eastern Churches. The person who prays it tries to integrate a simple formula – the most well-known formula is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner” – into his daily routine in such a way that it becomes a constant prayer.
In meditation a Christian seeks silence so as to experience intimacy with God and to find peace in his presence. He hopes for the sensible experience of his presence, which is an undeserved gift of grace; he does not expect it, however, as the product of a particular technique of meditation. Meditation can be an important aid to faith that strengthens and matures the human person. Nevertheless, techniques of meditation that promise to bring about an experience of God, or even the soul’s union with God, are deceptive. On account of such false promises, many people believe that God has abandoned them just because they do not perceive him. But God cannot be compelled to show up by particular methods. He communicates himself to us whenever and however he wishes
Today is the memorial of saints Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, priests and martyrs and companions, martyrs.
Prayer: O God, who chose to manifest the blessed hope of your eternal Kingdom by the toil of Saints John de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions and by the shedding of their blood, graciously grant that through their intercession the faith of Christians may be strengthened day by day. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Our prayers, which we offer in Jesus’ name, go to the place where Jesus’ prayers also went: to the heart of our heavenly Father. We can be sure of this if we trust Jesus. For Jesus has opened again for us the way to heaven, which had been barred by sin. Since Jesus is the way to God, Christians conclude their prayers with the phrase, “we ask this through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Certainly our goal is both lofty and difficult to attain. But please do not forget that people are not born holy. Holiness is forged through a constant interplay of God’s grace and the correspondence of man. As one of the early Christian writers says, referring to union with God, “Everything that grows begins small. It is by constant and progressive feeding that it gradually grows big” (St Mark the Hermit, De lege spirituali). So I say to you, if you want to become a thorough-going Christian and I know you are willing, even though you often find it difficult to conquer yourself or to keep climbing upwards with this poor body of ours then you will have to be very attentive to the minutest of details, for the holiness that Our Lord demands of you is to be achieved by carrying out with love of God your work and your daily duties, and these will almost always consist of small realities. – St Josemaria, Friends of God