Painting by Clarence Underwood

From An Easy Way to Become a Saint by Father Paul O’Sullivan, 1950’s

MEDITATION

We here deal with the most important subject of our lives, viz., daily meditation. Many Catholics do not even know that they are bound to meditate! Our Lord Himself tells us why so few become holy, why so few become saints.

“The whole world,” He says, “is gone astray because no one thinks in his heart.” Remark the words of Our Lord, “No one thinks in his heart,” that is, no one bothers to understand, to realize, to grasp in all their fullness the wonderful, the most consoling truths of our Religion. Willful blindness!

As we have already said, God has given us a most lovely Religion, which He made expressly to help us, to console us, to make us happy. It is not a difficult Religion, made only for saints. It was made for us, poor sinners, to strengthen our poor weak natures, to console these hearts of ours which are thirsting for peace and happiness.

This Religion, if only properly understood, will help us to overcome all our sins, all our defects, and it will make us solidly happy and really holy. How is it that we do not understand this?

Simply because we neglect our great duty of daily meditation, and therefore our ideas are vague and hazy and of little or no use to us.

One clear idea is worth a thousand hazy ones. The easiest and best way—the only way—to have clear ideas is to make a short daily meditation.

Meditation does not consist in thinking all the time. We read a little, think a little, and make short little acts, as we shall now explain. Nothing is easier.

WHY MUST WE MAKE MEDITATION

First of all, every Catholic should make daily meditation. St. Teresa says that the person who does not meditate needs no devil to throw him into Hell; he is going there himself.

Second. Meditation is by no means hard to make, if only we learn how to make it, and this presents no difficulty.

Third. If we do not meditate, we never see our faults, and so we never correct them.

Fourth. If we do not meditate, we can form no idea of the malice of sin, and as a consequence, we do not feel sorry for it; we do not avoid it.

Fifth. If we do not meditate, we do not see the awful danger we are in of falling into Hell. For this reason, thousands of men and women—men and women like ourselves—are falling into Hell every day.

Sixth. If we do not meditate, we do not prepare for death; we are afraid of death; we are afraid to think of it. That is just the reason why so many have bad deaths. Those who know how to meditate on death are no longer afraid of it, and moreover, they are sure to have happy deaths. “Think of your last end and you shall never sin,” are God’s own words.

Seventh. The greatest happiness anyone can have on this earth is to have a good friend, a true friend, a friend who can and is ready to help him. God is really and truly our Friend in the truest sense of that word. He is our most loving Father, a most tender Father. Never was there a father or mother on this Earth who loved a child as God loves us. The day we understand this truth will be the happiest day of our lives. We must always think of God as a God of tenderest love. Then we must love Him.

The only reason why we do not love God is that we do not meditate; we do not see how good God is; we do not pray to God to help us to love Him. If we do not meditate, we shall never see how good, how sweet God is; we shall never be holy, and we shall never be happy.

Why do so few go to daily Mass? Mass has exactly the same value as the Death of Christ on Mount Calvary. Why do they not go frequently to Holy Communion, which is the greatest grace God can give them? Why do they not enjoy Holy Communion?

Why do they not visit God in the Blessed Sacrament, though they pass the open door of the church so often, perhaps many times a day? They lose all these helps, all these consolations, all the strength, all the happiness God offers them simply because they do not make daily meditation.

Meditation is so important that nothing can take its place. It is not in itself as holy an act as Mass or Holy Communion, but it is more important because we cannot hear Mass properly nor receive Holy Communion devoutly unless we meditate.

We cannot pray as we should; in fact, we can do nothing well unless we meditate. All the vocal prayers we can say will not take the place of meditation.

Everyone must banish the thought that meditation is difficult or disagreeable. That is the great temptation of the devil and is an utterly false idea. We repeat that meditation is easy, is pleasant and brings us graces and blessings that we other-wise shall never get. Every Catholic is bound to meditate.

AN EASY WAY TO MEDITATE

Here is a simple and easy method of meditation, which all may use with advantage.

a) As we said when speaking of reading, we must choose for the purpose of meditation a book that we like, that suits us, that has a personal appeal to us. Each one chooses the book he likes best.

b) We begin our meditation by praying to the Holy Spirit for light and guidance. For ordinary Christians a very easy and beautiful prayer to the Holy Spirit is the Third Glorious Mystery of the Rosary. This in itself is a little meditation.

We see how timid, how fearful the Apostles were, how rude, how slow in understanding Our Lord’s teaching; above all how weak they were even after Christ’s Resurrection.

They remained ten days waiting and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit. They had the doors closed in fear of the Jews. Then the Holy Spirit descended on them, resting in the form of fiery tongues over their heads and gave them all His gifts and graces. They were completely changed.

No longer afraid, they went into the midst of their enemies and preached Jesus, the Son of God, whom these had crucified. They were no longer rude and ignorant, but full of wisdom and knowledge.

They confounded the philosophers of Greece and Rome, they feared neither sufferings nor tortures, and were even pleased to suffer for the Name of Jesus.

These men who had been so timid, so rude, so weak were now able to convert the world. This lesson is most encouraging, for we see what we too can do with the help of God, no matter how weak we are.

c) After saying this Mystery fervently, let us take up our book and read a little—slowly, carefully, attentively, turning over in our minds the meaning of what we have read, applying the lesson to ourselves.

Then we pray, asking God to help us to understand what we have read. Again we read a little, and pray a little, a second, a third time, each time applying the truth to ourselves.

d) Then we make a practical resolution, which we must bear in mind during the day.

e) Lastly, we must pray fervently to God to pardon our past faults and give us strength to avoid them in the future. What could be easier?

THE RESULTS OF MEDITATION

Meditation is like a kind and good friend who teaches us, advises us, encourages us. This friend is in reality the Holy Ghost, who enlightens our understanding and strengthens our wills and gives us His graces and gifts, as He gave them to the Apostles.

We see our defects and humbly ask God to pardon us. We consider God’s love and earnestly ask Him to make us love Him more and more. We see how blind we have been in the past regarding the truths of our Holy Religion. We beg the Holy Spirit to help us to understand Our Dear Lord’s wonderful teaching.

Meditation made in this way is very easy and of the greatest importance. It is a grave obligation. Only those who are very ignorant are excused from meditation.

Charity towards your neighbor, tolerance for his opinions, indulgence for his defects, compassion for his errors, yes; but no cowardly and guilty concessions to human respect. Never allow fear of the ridicule or contempt of men to make you blush for your faith. -Light and Peace, Quadrupani https://amzn.to/2FZ6Ima (afflink)

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