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Thursday, June 4, 2009

I Can't Meditate

By Sister Marie Thérèse, M.I.C.M.

This is an excerpt from a treasure of a book for religious sisters by Father John E. Moffatt, S.J., entitled: Listen, Sister. I modified it slightly so that you will more easily be able to apply it to yourself. Father proves again and again in his book that having a sense of humor is a great help to progress in the spiritual life. After reading this article, you could, for starters, apply your newly-discovered talent to the mysteries of the Rosary, particularly when you meditate for fifteen minutes to fulfill Our Lady's request for the Five First Saturdays. And now, Father Moffatt:

Listen, my friend. You can't meditate? You never did learn how? Every time you try you make a miserable mess of it? It's just no use? You simply cannot succeed? You have used all the books with their preludes and points and various devices? You have followed directions with meticulous exactness? But the net result is zero? It's not for you? You just cannot meditate?

Listen, my friend. Don't be ludicrous. You can meditate. Everyone can. Good and bad, saint and sinner, learned and ignorant, all can meditate — all do meditate.

The businessman in his office lost in a brown study over the papers on his desk — what is he doing? He is meditating. Meditating on that business deal that is under negotiation. The small boy in the classroom dreaming his dreams as he stares with vacant gaze at the book before him — what is he doing? He, too, is meditating — meditating on the delightful freedom of the vacation time with its sunlit fields in which to roam, its games, its fishing rod, its swimming hole. The sweet girl graduate, as the day of Commencement approaches — how is she engaged through well-nigh all her waking hours? In eager meditation on the coming thrilling event in her young life.

You are not unlike the rest. You, too, can meditate. You can't help but do so. Listen. After you read that paper at the business meeting, or after you performed on the piano for your family, or sang with your exquisite voice at that little family entertainment, and your mother came to your room and told you, with all her motherly sweetness, how "utterly wonderful it was — the most beautiful thing she had ever heard — how proud she was of her child," tell me, did you meditate? Did you meditate? You certainly did. You know you did. You couldn't help it. (For you gentlemen, imagine getting well-earned praise from your boss.)

All the rest of the evening you meditated on the lovely compliment that you had been given. You fell asleep relishing its sweetness. When you half-awakened in the night you spontaneously took up the thread and reveled in a few precious moments of blissful meditation. It was the first thought with which you greeted the dawn, and all day long, and every day for a week or more, your meditation went on unwearyingly, without effort, intertwining itself into the warp and weft of your daily duties, coloring all with its golden glow of most supreme delight.

And how long were the points of that meditation? There were no "points" and no "preludes," either; just one single "point," quite undeveloped, not more than a dozen words long. Yet those few words were plenty and more than sufficient, for hours and days of delightful, effortless meditation. With what relish you savored, over and over again, each single phrase Mother had spoken: "utterly wonderful" ... "most beautiful she had ever heard" — and Mother had heard so many wonderful things in her life; how proud she was of you — no doubt she would tell her friends all about it. With that delight you recalled even the look on her face, harkened again and again to the tone of her voice and its every inflection as she gave you that "point" of your meditation! Yes, and was that not a fruitful meditation? Were you not "walking on air" for days on end with the joy of it all? And did it not spur you on to outdo yourself in the future as opportunity offered?

Yet — yet you say that you cannot meditate! Listen, my friend. Are you willing to admit that, while a simple compliment a dozen words long is sufficient to hold you under its spell in hours of ecstatic joy, you find nothing to hold your attention, nothing to touch your heart, to arouse your affections and resolutions, in all the precious, blessed things your Lord has said to you: "I have loved you with an everlasting love"... "As the Father has loved me, so do I love you"... "I call you not servants now, but friends"... "I go to prepare a place for you so that where I am you also may be"... . "My delight is to be with the children of men"... "come to me and I will refresh you" — and dozens more? Is it possible that, though the thought of a trifling act of kindness on the part of a creature holds you enraptured in its embrace and carries you off on the wings of undisturbed contemplation, you find no response in your mind or heart at the thought of the infinite deeds of kindness the Master has done for you as His way of saying, "I love you"? Christ, for love of you, a Babe on the straw in a cattle shed! Christ publicly whipped in your stead! Christ dying in agony that you might live! Christ, for you, a prisoner under lock and key in His narrow tabernacle cell! Christ nourishing your soul with His Flesh and Blood! Yet you cannot meditate?

Listen, my friend. Go to your room and blush for shame — and meditate.

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