Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meditation

There are numerous methods of meditation that exist within Christian tradition. Some rely upon words or phrases from scripture to focus the attention. This type of prayer is generally know as lectio divina. It is about praying with the Bible. Others make use of a sacred word for repetition, that might be scriptural but not necessarily so, to dispense with distractions. This is generally referred to as “Centering Prayer.”

This Lent, I find myself attracted to a form of prayer put forth by St. Ignatius of Loyola. This type of prayer is about calling to mind a scene and becoming a participant in that scene. Using the scriptures makes sense, but isn’t required. It is possible to picture an event in Church history, or an event from the life of a particular saint. Through entering the scene, the supplicant is brought to a deeper experience of the theological significance of an event. This type of meditation can yield a deeper, personal connection that leads to direction.

Here is a a brief framework to begin an exploration of the methodology of St. Ignatius. Twenty minutes should prove a good start.

1-Begin with a brief prayer of intention and invocation of God’s assistance. Using the same prayer over a season is ideal. It should become familiar and facilitate your entrance into the meditation. “God of grace open my heart and mind to you. Visit me this day that I may know your presence and follow where you lead.”

2-Choose a scene related to your desire for the meditation. I am in a process of self-examination, so I am visualizing Peter and Jesus beside the lake, post-resurrection, when Jesus instructs Peter to “Feed my sheep.” Soak up the scene. What do you see? What other senses are employed? Visualize it and place yourself within it.

3-What is offered you in this scene? What grabs you and seems to be for you? How do you relate to the other characters present? Is one of them speaking to you? What do you do with the experience? I engage with Jesus’ connection of loving him and tending his sheep. I plumb the personal depths of what that means for me.

4-Close with the Lord’s Prayer.

This outline is only a starting point, loosely based on my read of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I am certain there are better explications and formats. My only desire is to offer a simple approach to exploration of this method of meditation.

1 comment:

katherine said...

Dear Chris: Thank you so much for this guide to meditation. I love the opening prayer and the visualization. Kate