August 20, 2011

Mediation - Part III

The Rosary

Continuing on Pope Benedict's reflections on meditation from his Wednesday audience:
"Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days -- with all their activities -- moments to recollect ourselves in silence and to ponder all that the Lord wants to teach us, how He is present and acts in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate...
The holy rosary is also a prayer of meditation: In repeating the Hail Mary we are invited to think back and to reflect upon the mystery we have announced."
If one has difficulty with meditation, or has never really engaged in it, the Rosary is a good place to begin to learn to practice the art of meditation.  When we pray the Rosary, we meditate on the mysteries of the life of Christ.  Yet so often I hear people praying the Rosary at rapid speed and wonder how they can ponder the mysteries or even reflect upon what God might be saying to them as they pray? I wrote in a previous post that I did get impatient with the way people were praying the Rosary after Mass, and I later recalled that St. Therese got annoyed at the way one of her sisters would bang her beads on the pew.  I am far from being a saint so I still have a long way to go offer it to God as Therese did.  I hope the ladies receive many graces through their race to get through it.  I am also not saying that I always pray the Rosary immersed in meditation.  Sometimes I forget what mystery I am up to, telling me that I am not really paying attention nor putting my heart into prayer.

But there are times, I like to think more often than not, when I do allow the repetition of the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be to act as a sort of mantra that keeps me focused on the mysteries.  I like to pray the Rosary slowly and often in silence. That is why I usually can't pray it with a group like the one I mentioned, as their speed and their loudness would distract me. Praying the Rosary in a group that prays it meditatively however, is often better than praying it alone.  I have experienced this on pilgrimages and in prayer groups that I once belonged to.  The many voices become as one, as if part of a choir.  The softness of the prayers and sometimes singing in between the mysteries, allows for greater meditation and focus on Christ.

Agony in the Garden
by El Greco
While I do like all the Mysteries, especially the new Luminous Mysteries since there is so much in them to meditate upon, my favorite Mystery is the First Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden.  I have always been attracted to the story and paintings of Jesus struggling to accept the will of His Father.  How easily I struggle with doing God's will and feel that God has abandoned me in my suffering.  As I meditate on this Mystery, I put myself in the Garden and I ask Jesus to send angels to support me and ask God to give me strength. I also sense the intense agony that Jesus went through and with Him I can resign myself to accept my meager sufferings and to give them to God, "let it be as your will, not mine would have it."

To those who say the Rosary is simply a rote prayer or boring, the Pope is asking us to use the Rosary to lead us into meditation.  As Mary contemplated the events in the life of her Son, so too we imitate her and ask her to bring us closer to Jesus.

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