Thursday, April 6, 2017
Live Today Well, Chapter 11...
I really needed this chapter, because although I think of God often throughout the day, I feel like I don't dedicate enough time to set aside, quiet prayer. My mind is always whirling, and I squeeze prayer time in (when I remember to) around all of that. Not exactly a stellar model. And so what does Salesian tradition have to say to help us out in this regard?
The Salesian model is based on meditation for prayer time. This is defined as:
"...a prayer of the mind and heart. It follows the example of Jesus, who at important moments in his public ministry would often go off by himself to a quiet place to pray and thus to be in communion with the Father and the Spirit...Conceived as a form of inspired imagining, it focuses more on listening to God than on speaking to God."
To prepare for this type of prayer, St. Francis recommends the following:
(1) Presence. We focus on God's presence by recalling that He is everywhere, that he is indeed present within us, and that He is gazing down on us from heaven. We should also picture Christ near us by imaging him walking beside us.
(2) Imagination. I love this step. We can use our imagination to focus on a particular place or scene in which God acts, such as in a biblical story. We could picture ourselves being present at the Last Supper, or the healing of the woman. This makes it easier for us to imagine Christ working in our own lives, in the present day.
(3) Consideration. Now, we allow the Spirit to guide us from thought and feeling, into action. Based upon what we just re-imagined in our minds of how God worked in the lives of other people, and knowing that He is present with us (albeit in a different way), how might He want us to act now?
(4) Affection. When we think of our affection for the Lord, it inspires us to act in holy ways.
(5) Resolution. With all of this in mind, we make a resolution to act in a certain way that aligns our human reality with the divine mystery we have envisioned:
"Devotion, according to St. Francis de Sales, is not simply a thought or a feeling. The good life is one that is lived!"
Amen, am I right?!
St. Francis also promotes a form of prayer called aspirations, in which you repeat short sayings to yourself as you move through your day. Such as "Jesus, I trust in you." I enjoy this form of prayer as well, since it lends itself nicely to my always preoccupied state of mind. ;-)
What did you all think of this chapter on prayer? Will you incorporate any of the suggestions into your day? I'm going to try and work on the imagination part more, and allow my mind to be quiet while doing so. For Holy Week, we move on to virtues! Please do post your prayer thoughts in the comments. :)
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I have always found meditation to be hard. Either my thoughts wander or it seems to take too much time or both. Next thing I know I have to move on to what is required of me next and I spent the whole time thinking about not prayer things. I've sometimes thought that maybe meditation wasn't for me. So I liked the other ways that have been described in this book to bring prayer into our lives through out the day. But now that we have reached the chapter on prayer, meditation is suggested. Perhaps God is trying to tell me something. :) One thing that stood out to me was the statement that "with some practice, the exercise of meditation will flow more seamlessly". I have to admit that I haven't practiced very much and have given up too easily in the past. What I liked about this description of mediation was that it should lead to a resolution to act in a specific way. This resolution is something you can continue to think about and put into action throughout the day as a way to continue to pray through the day and to live the day well. I also liked the acknowledgement that "praying in this meditative way takes time ... [and] no matter how much time we can devote to this spiritual exercise, the key is to stir the affections and carry out the resolutions."ReplyDelete
Hi Melanie! Indeed, it is difficult for me to quiet my mind in this way as well. I did like the more practical way the author described it, and that it should lead to a distinct action on our part. That helps me to think of it in a more practical and versatile way.Delete