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!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Lk 4:16-30 Leave Your Valuables Behind

Monday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time
(Click here for readings)


Rolling up the scroll,
he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Is this not the son of Joseph?”
He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb,
‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place
the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’”
And he said,
“Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place
When the people in the synagogue heard this,
they were all filled with fury.
They rose up, drove him out of the town,
and led him to the brow of the hill
on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.
But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Why is no prophet accepted in his native place? I think the roots of this problem run deep—and not just for ancient Jews.For some reason, in our minds, we’ve drawn a dichotomybetween what is familiar to us and what is spiritual. We have church and God and the saints cornered off in one section of our minds, and we cannot fathom that God participates in the grittier parts of our daily life. This is simply untrue.

When I traveled to Costa Rica this summer, my roommates took me to see the national basilica in Cartago. The basilica is named for Nuestra Senora de los Angeles (or, Our Lady of the Angels), who is the patroness of Costa Rica. Every summer, practically the entire country of Costa Rica walks on foot to the basilica in a massive pilgrimage for her feast day, August 2nd. It takes the government (which, interestingly enough, is still officially Catholic) months to prepare for the volume of people who travel in. Meals are provided for every pilgrim, and if memory serves me right, people even sleep in tents in various places along the pilgrimage route. When I visited the Basilica, the first few people had begun to arrive to Cartago to pray in preparation for the feast day. There were trucks full of food in the street and people were starting to set up enormous medical tents in the town square. And then came the hundreds of people who wanted to get into the cathedral. There were men (bouncers, you may say)outside the cathedral doors who lined people up in a not-so-gentle way so that everybody who wanted to go inside could process through (on their knees!) to ask a favor of Mary. I was assumed to be a Protestant for my fair skin, so I was directed to a special side entrance and observed the spectacle from afar. It seemed so interesting, but even so, something about the huge hordes of people and the general bustle didn’t sit right with me. It seemed so not-spiritual. It seemed like a football game, almost.

Below the sanctuary, the Cathedral has been converted into a museum of sorts, where the faithful can come and leave items in a box in front of the icon of Nuestra Senora de los Angeles. Usually, people leave things of value to them to give thanks for answered prayers or to ask for intercession. A popular devotion is to buy a little silver charm of your child or whatever else you need prayers for and place it in the box. Every month, the items are taken from the box and displayed in glass cases so that others can see them and also join in prayer for whoever left the items. At first, that was so weird to me—there were about five-hundred charms of little babies, and a good thousand charms of various deformed limbs. The Costa Rican national soccer team had even left one of their championship medals. Again, it felt weird to me. It seemed so worldly.
My skepticism went off even more when I saw the natural spring coming out of the side of the building, which was reported to have sprung in a period of drought during the Basilica’s construction. Everybody processed down to the spring with whatever containers they could find (some had pots and pans, some plastic water bottles) to collect the water for blessingtheir homes. Again, something about it didn’t sit right with me. I didn’t like that everything was so material. I didn’t like that everything was so tangible, so in-your-face. But then I realized my error. I didn’t like that everything was so human.
I think a lot of us have this fundamental misunderstanding about the faith. Whether consciously or subconsciously, we think that things of God must be other-worldly and clean and pristine, completely disassociated from the things of this world.That’s simply not true. In his book Letters to a Young Catholic(which I conveniently read on a Costa Rican beach the day after my Cartago adventure), George Weigel writes a whole chapter on the “grittiness” of Catholicism—in other words, the tangible and human aspects of our faith. So what, there’s a giant truck of food and an enormous red tent full of noisy people blocking the fa├žade of the Cathedral? So what, there’s a church bouncer at the door? So what, people are bringing their cast iron skillets to collect holy water? That’s humanity. God loves humanity in all its grittiness. Here’s what Weigel said about this chapter in an interview with the Ethics and Public Policy Center:

Catholicism, I try to suggest, is a very gritty business: it’s about things we can touch and taste and feel and smell, just as much as it’s about ideas and arguments. Going to intensely Catholic places reminds us of that. And by “intensely Catholic places,” I don’t mean just churches, cathedrals, and shrines. I mean pubs and bedrooms, graveyards and libraries, monastic cells and concert halls – places that are “borders” between the ordinary and the extraordinary, between what calls itself “the real world” and the really real world of transcendent truth and love… Modern culture teaches us that stuff doesn’t count, that everything is plastic and manipulable. Catholicism teaches us that the world is sacramental – that it’s through the gritty stuff of this world that we meet God’s saving grace.

If we believe that our faith is reality—that the entire world and everything that happens is one big drama of sin, redemption, and salvation—then every place is the dwelling place of God. That’s not to say that we should abandon our churches or trash our cathedrals, or stop going to Mass simply because God is present everywhere. That’s not the point at all. The point is, we shouldn’t be afraid to let our faith be a little “gritty.” Grit is reality, and Jesus Christ lived in the gritty world just like you and me—that is the Gospel truth.

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