Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sophia Institute Press: Everyday Meditations

There have been many converts to the Catholic faith through the centuries. Some of them have made bigger splashes than others, and their ripples can still be seen in the great Catholic pond. Scott Hahn, for example, is one of the big reasons I and so many others are Catholic today. Works of other notable converts are more truly appreciated after someone has converted. I refer, today, specifically to Blessed John Henry Newman. Blessed John Henry Newman converted in 1845, was ordained a Catholic priest in 1846, and became a Cardinal in 1879. This was truly a meteoric, yet deserved, rise through the Catholic Church for a former Anglican. Today, I would like to recommend you a work of his to read entitled Everyday Meditations.

Everyday Meditations is a collection of fifty meditations that range in length from two to four pages each. Topics include God the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, Sin, the Eucharist, etc. The book is arranged in such a way that similar topics are grouped together and thus you can build on your understanding of each topic by reading and reflecting on the same topic for several sessions in a row. However, you do not have to read this book in order. If you wanted to meditate on Good Friday, you could read the meditation "The Power of the Cross." If you want to express your love for God, but don't have the words, then try, "An Act of Love."

I generally try to pick a section in the book that I view as my favorite part. With this book, however, that is an impossible task, as each meditation will speak to different people in different ways. The message that I obtain from a meditation might not be the same message you obtain. In fact, the message that you obtain on your first reading of a particular meditation might be different on your next reflection of it. That is the beauty of works such as these. They lend themselves to being read and re-read. I will share with you a quote from one meditation that spoke to me though. With this brief quote, I hope to show you how simple, yet profound each meditation is. From "The Passion of Our Lord," Cardinal John Henry Newman writes:

"O tormented heart, it was love and sorrow and fear that broke you. It was the sight of human sin, it was the sense of it, the feeling of it laid on you; it was zeal for the glory of God, horror at seeing sin so near you, a sickening, stifling, feeling at its pollution, the deep shame and disgust and abhorrence and revolt it inspired, keen pity for the souls whom it has drawn headlong into hell – all these feelings together you allowed to rush upon you. You submitted yourself to their powers, and  they were your death. That strong heart; that all-noble, all generous, all-tender, all-pure heart was slain by sin."

With only fifty meditations in this 5-star book, one could use this book in a number of ways. The easiest way would be to start from the beginning and read one per day. You would certainly gain a lot of wisdom and appreciation for all aspects of your faith. I, however, would like to suggest a better way to use this book. Find a chapel that has Eucharistic Adoration, and spend thirty minutes to one hour per week there. Bring this book with you every time, and read one meditation per week. In front of our Lord, reflect on that meditation, and make the meditation your focus through the week, especially when life tries to weigh you down. If you make it the whole year, you will finish the book with a few weeks to spare, and you would also be spiritually richer for it.

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