Meditation is an ideal way to pray. Using God's word (Lectio Divina) allows me to hear, listen and reflect on what the Lord wants to say to me - to one of his disciples - just like He did two thousand years ago.
The best time to reflect is at the beginning of the day and for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
Prior to going to sleep, read the Mass readings for the next day and then, in the morning, reflect on the Meditation offered on this website.
I hope these daily meditations allow you to know, love and imitate the Lord in a more meaningful way.
God bless you!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

PS 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 Keeping One's Religion to Oneself

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

By Benedict Augustine

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!

A growing number of people in the developed world have perpetuated the idea that one must “keep one's religion to oneself.” It is common when teaching proper behavior to young people to insist that they refrain from speaking of religion and politics; and in most cases, this will effectively steer most minds to religious matters. For those who defy the rules of decency, the uncivilized Christians who dare discuss their faith or ask about the faith of others, people will now actively silence them claiming in the most sanctimonious tones that they keep their beliefs to themselves.

In fact, such an instance happened recently. A student of mine who fancies himself as a civilized AP student condescended to ask me questions about my Catholic faith – I imagine he had time to kill and evidently presumed I have nothing to do during my conference period. Most teachers at this point would usher him out swiftly to avoid such a conversation, but I try to remain open in these matters for two reasons: one, students—even AP students—rarely have the chance to talk seriously to an adult about faith, which, for all the bluster of journalists, still figures strongly into our culture and intellectual tradition; and two, I always have to assume that God could have sent this person my way to change his path, similar to Philip running into the eunuch trying to read holy scripture.

At first, the student manages to restrain his impulse to blare out his own opinions, something he does fairly often in class. He asked questions about where I go to Church, how I pray, what I might pray for. Some people find these questions personal, but that does not mean they have to be private, so I attempted to answer his questions as clearly as time permitted. He seemed unimpressed. I think he hoped to hear wonderful eloquence: if I could make difficult concepts in English credible and understandable, I should do the same for religion. His eyes rolled as I explained the various proofs for God, man's incapacity to cope with suffering without Jesus, and the beauty of the Mass and the universe. He obviously did not intend to listen, and these questions merely acted as a token of courtesy before he listed his complaints about “Christians.” I could at least applaud his tact and patience. Some atheists, even ones I consider friends, launch into some pretty nasty invectives without even bothering to check with me.

In any case, secular society taught this child well. He assured me that he tolerated, and sometimes even admired, people of faith, but he could not stand religious people airing their religious convictions in public. I refrained from pointing out the irony of this person airing his own convictions—in himself, not God, in good secularist fashion—while refusing this freedom to others. His complaint originated from an instance of some coach asking some of the players to say a prayer before some big game, which he cited as a flagrant violation of Church and State – because public school educators and their students are somehow forbidden from expressing their faith in any manner whatsoever. He, good person and teammate that he is, grins and bears their praying, but still cannot help but think that these people around them were idiots, which is actually a common opinion among unchurched AP kids. He said that he found me interesting because I happened to practice Christianity and yet retained some measure of intelligence.

As with all complaints against religion, this opened a can of worms that I could not close in the few minutes I had. I tried empathizing with him, sharing that I thought religion was pretty silly when I was younger until God introduced me to some more brilliant Christian thinkers like St. Augustine and C.S. Lewis. Unfortunately, the conversation became muddled after that because he wanted to move onto other subjects – my love for books and reading bored him even more than my love for Catholicism. I suppose he wanted to make his point and leave it at that. So much for dialogue.

Oddly enough, although I doubt he thought about it, his team went quite far in their tournament, breaking school records left and right. The prayers must have worked, I thought, even though the matter of a school's athletic program doing well seemed fairly trivial. Maybe this would change that student's mind and make him think twice. If not, at least I thought twice.

In the past, these questions/objections used to bother me; they still do sometimes. However, it becomes clear that the subject of religion incites resentment among nonbelievers and diffidence among believers because everyone makes the mistake of seeing religion as some ideology or source of identity. False religion may have those characteristics, but true religion transcends such limitations. Evangelization only requires love and devotion. In his work De Doctrina Christiana, St. Augustine discusses the avid fan of drama dragging all his friends to see a certain play or a certain actor, showing how much more the Christian should follow his example.

I should not seek to teach—even if I do teach for a living—but should share my faith with enthusiasm. I do this because it makes me happy, not only because Jesus commands it. Faith understood this way illuminates the jubilation of some of the Psalms, the work of Paul and Barnabas, and the profound simplicity of Jesus' ministry. Yes, they talked about religion, even in the face of persecution, not because they feared God's wrath, but because they loved God. They loved what He gave them. They loved learning His ways. They loved thinking about Him and His creation. In thinking about God, one will find himself thinking about everything and everyone. In loving Him, one begins to love all others.

Society might decide to take away the right to express this love—even as it stridently permits the expressions of other kinds of love. Nevertheless, true devotion will lead the Christian past the disapproval of the intellectual class, or the secularized or fanaticized majority, or the law. They will go on preaching the gospel because it makes life worth living. A silent faith kept bottled up in one's heart does no one any good, not even the person who occasionally professes to hold it. A vocal faith, while often dangerous and unpredictable, will most certainly make a positive difference both for the believer and the world around him.

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