MEDITATION 

Meditatio parit scientiam, scientia compunctionem, compunctio devotionem, devotio vero perficit orationem. 

Constitution, Article 62:  Daily, if possible but especially on Sundays and holy-days, Tertiaries shall devote some time to mental prayer or spiritual reading. They shall make frequent use of the Sacred Scriptures, particularly of the holy Gospel, and also of the life of our holy Father Francis and of the other saints of the Seraphic Order. Likewise, by means of the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, they shall reflect, especially during Lent and on Fridays, on the last sufferings of Christ.

Gummermann Handbook, Sections 213 & 215: Meditation or mental prayer is the consideration of religious truths, duties, or events in order to arouse pious emotions and make definite plans for the future. The object of this reflection is not to arrive at sublime thoughts but at holy sentiments and firm, practical resolutions...The Tertiaries who pledge themselves to the pursuit of perfection should not neglect this powerful means of union with God. They owe it to their profession to disregard any dislike and to overcome all obstacles. 

The below is a basic method of meditation as given to us by Saint Francis de Sales in his book, Introduction to the Devout Life. This process is broken into four stages which are detailed individually below. It is recommended that you begin with fifteen minutes per day, best executed in the morning before the complications of the day.  

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PREPARATION

  1. Place yourself in the presence of God utilizing one of the four methods below

    • By a firm awareness of the omnipresence of God – understand that He is truly present

    • By an understanding of the intimate presence of God within your heart

    • By a recognition that Christ, in His Sacred Humanity, looks upon you from Heaven

    • By imagining the physical presence of the Sacred Humanity

  2. Invoke God’s assistance

    • Once you have realized the Presence of the Lord by one of the techniques above, your soul “prostrates herself with profound reverence, acknowledging her unworthiness to appear before so sovereign a Majesty, and nevertheless, knowing that his goodness desires it, she asks of him the grace to serve him well, and to adore him in this meditation.”

    • Scriptural statement may be used to strengthen the condition. For example,

      1. Give me understanding, and I will search thy law; and I will keep it with my whole heart. (Psalm 118:34)

      2. Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth. (1Kings 3:10)

    • Invoke also your guardian angel and any holy persons associated with the mystery of mediation at hand

  3. Initiate the composition of place

    • The composition of place (or interior lection) is “no other thing than to represent to the imagination the scene of the mystery upon which the meditation is made, as though it were actually taking place in our presence.”

    •  Once interior lection has commenced, confine your spirit within the mystery presented “so that it may not range hither and thither, just as we confine a bird to a cage.”

 

CONSIDERATIONS

  • “After the action of the imagination, follows the action of the understanding, which we call meditation, which is no other thing than one or many considerations made in order to stir up our affections towards God and divine things.”

  • Maintain the contemplation of profitable considerations while they produce favorable developments. Move on to others “gently and simply” should they not suite your need.

  • “Meditation produces good movements in the will or affective part of our soul, such as the love of God and our neighbor, the desire of heaven and eternal glory, zeal for the salvation of souls, imitation of the life of our Lord, compassion, admiration, joy, fear of God’s displeasure, of judgement and of hell, hatred of sin, confidence in the goodness and mercy of God, confusion for our bad lives in the past; and in these affections our spirit should expand and extend itself as much as possible.”

  • “After the action of the imagination, follows the action of the understanding, which we call meditation, which is no other thing than one or many considerations made in order to stir up our affections towards God and divine things.”

 

RESOLUTIONS

Convert the affections generated by profitable considerations into “special and particular resolutions for your correction and amendment.”

 

CONCLUSION

 The meditation is to be closed in three stages:

  1. Act of thanksgiving

    • Thank God for affections and resolutions received and for “His goodness and mercy which we have discovered in the mystery upon which we have been meditating”

  2. Act of oblation

    • Offer God the above goodness and mercy which is His along with “the death, the blood, and the virtues of his Son” all in union with our own affections and resolutions

  3. Act of petition

    • Implore God to “communicate to us the graces and virtues of His Son, and to bless our affections and resolution, so that we may be able faithfully to put them into practice”

    • In addition to the above petition, pray as well for the Church, our families, acquaintances, etc. while invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Angels and the Saints

 

To close, say one Pater Noster and one Ave Maria then gather “two or three points in which we have found most relish, and which are specially proper to our advancement, in order to remember them throughout the day.”

 

ADDITIONAL POINTS

  •  The above is merely a brief outline, it is highly recommended that you read Introduction to the Devout Life, in its entirety. In addition to further clarification it also contains ten guided meditations which utilize the steps above.

  • St. Francis de Sales recommends a minimum of one hour mediation a day.  As Tertiaries we are required to meditate for at least fifteen minutes—however, the amount of time and the quality of attention you give this practice is directly proportional to the speed and strength with which your development will advance.

  • In reference the Pater Noster and Ave Maria mentioned above, St Francis de Sales notes, "If you will take my advise, you will say your Pater, your Ave and the Credo in Latin; but you will also take care to understand exactly what the words mean in your mother tongue, so that, whilst saying them in the language of the Church, you may nevertheless relish the admirable and delicious meaning of these holy prayers."

  • If possible, after your meditation, remain in silence for a period of time before returning to your occupations in order to maintain the “feelings and affections you have conceived.”

 

The above quotes taken from:

De Sales, St. Francis. Introduction to the Devout Life. Burns Oats and Washbourne Ltd., 1937.

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