by Rev. Albert Rung



The catechism defines prayer as he raising of our hearts and minds to God.  This is done if we think about almighty God, which kind of prayer is called mediation; o it is done when we actually speak to Him in words, which is called vocal prayer.  Meditation is considered a difficult mode of prayer, mostly, i may be said, because it requires an effort and has to be learned.  But, to show that in reality it is not difficult, attention is called to the fact that many, when saying vocal prayers, of a sudden find that they have cased to speak the words and have been thinking about the beauty of heaven, or picturing to themselves some scene of the passion of our Lord, or such like subject, and in the intensity of their thoughts forgot to say the words of the prayer they were reciting.   Many good souls judge this a distraction and call their minds back to the prayer they started to say, whereas this being lost n thought, is in reality a kind of meditation.  Were the will also brought into action by forming a desire to arrive in heaven, or an act of contrition formed for our sins which caused the passion of our Lord, we would have the nucleus of a meditation. 

Meditation is not, however, thoughts which come to one haphazardly. It is a mode of prayer which is to be predetermined.  Hence to meditate properly, a time must be set for meditation.  Religious professedly following a spiritual life, have a fixed time set aside daily for meditation.  The duration of the meditation varies from one-quarter of an hour to an hour at a time.  Again, they may have one meditation or more during the day.  It is not at all out of place to advocate and urge meditation also for the laity.  The time to be devoted to this mode of prayer, due to the business of life, will, however, be shorter, perhaps five minutes to a half-hour, according to the leisure of the individual.  To perform it properly, it must be learned and executed according to rule.  A book from which the meditation is taken is a great help; either some meditation book prepared for the purpose, or the Bible may be used, the latter being an ever-ready source of meditation.  The morning is the best time for meditation.  Holy Scripture says: "O Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear my voice," and, "For Thee do I watch at the break of day."  The morning is best because the mind is fresh and less liable to distractions..  The matter upon which we mean to think or meditate may be read on the preceding night or just previous to the meditation itself.  This being done, a very short prayer placing ourselves in the presence of God and asking His help is in order.  Then the mind is concentrated on what was read, either seeking to understand its full meaning, or picturing the scene to the imagination.  Next follows an application of the faith, or a good resolution, based upon what we thought about, should be formed.  This, in short, is a meditation, not so difficult but that it may easily be learned after but little practice.  The thought of the meditation will be recalled to mind advisedly or even unconsciously during they, and, if so, the most precious fruit of the meditation will have been gained, especially if the actions of the day are imbued or regulated by the thought which warmed the heart in the morning.

There is even an easier way of meditation for those who do not acquire the above method or for some reason cannot practice the above on some particular day.  It consists in repeating some prayer and stopping between the sentences to allow time for thought.  If only one sentence is complete by the time the allotted period for meditation is finished, it is an excellent meditation and will be productive of good fruit.  Thus to meditate in either of these methods cannot but greatly advance the spirituality of the individual, for it is a mode of prayer far superior to vocal prayer.  It requires, however, an earnest effort and perseverance.  Those who attend daily Mass can, to their great profit and advancement, easily devote part or all the time of Mass to  meditation.  Five minutes or a quarter of an hour in the early morning spent in meditation will be replete with God's blessing and the individual's sanctification.