Meditation is a personal and intimate conversation with God. It is meant to enlighten and strengthen, in your heart and soul, your decision to identify with the purpose of your life: God’s holy will. It is a renewal from God that should encompass your principles, emotions, motivations, and decisions.
As you begin your meditation, call on the Holy Spirit in faith. Remember that he is “the sweet guest of the soul,” and that however much you strive to become holy and be an apostle, you will achieve nothing solid or lasting without him.
Put your whole self (your intelligence, will, emotions, imagination, feelings, problems, weaknesses, interests, longings, etc.) into your prayer so that these moments of personal contact with God will bear fruit in your daily life and lead to a continuous renewal of your principles, motivations, and decisions.
One form of meditation is known as discursive affective prayer. In it you reflect on an idea or fundamental principle so as to understand it more deeply and make it your own. It is not simply a mental exercise, but rather a reflection from the heart on the mystery of your own life, done in the light of faith and from God’s perspective. The deeper understanding this gives you should lead you to want to become one with God, express your love for him, thank him for his gifts, ask for his help, recognize that you are a sinful creature, and give yourself trustingly to him. This culminates in conversion of heart – that is, the decision to live from now on in accordance with the truth you have considered in God’s light.
Another form of mental prayer is contemplation. In it you take a mystery or an event in the life of Christ or the Blessed Virgin, or in salvation history; you contemplate it (observe the people, listen to their words, consider their actions) and its implications for your own life, allowing the movement of grace to stir your heart and move your will toward giving yourself and imitating what you have contemplated.
Or finally, prayer may involve all of the above elements: discursive, affective, and contemplative.
Your choice of one or other of these forms of prayer will depend on the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and the needs of your soul, always under the guidance of your spiritual director.
It is not enough to reflect or contemplate. Meditation is above all an attentive, loving conversation with God. Accordingly, it is necessary to learn to listen to God in the silence of your soul and to open your heart to him in a conversation full of faith and love, entering into personal and sanctifying contact with God. Here, under the light and power of the Holy Spirit, your will is conformed to God’s, and the decisions that ought to direct your life emerge.
Begin your meditation by invoking the Holy Spirit.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.
O God, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In the same Spirit, help us to know what is truly right and always rejoice in his consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Make these acts briefly and spontaneously in direct conversation with God, without using written prayers, if possible.
Faith: You will be in God’s presence, speaking with him. You don’t have to make him present since we are always in God’s presence whether we realize it or not. But you do need to make yourself aware of this reality.
Hope: It consists in turning to God as your supreme good, your Savior, in whom you trustfully hope for grace and help in your need.
Charity: Renew your awareness that God, with whom you are speaking, is your Father, and that you are his beloved child. Address him, then, as a child speaking to his father.
Adore God humbly and with all your heart. He is your creator; you depend on him for everything.
Thank him for all the gifts you have received, especially for this opportunity to speak with him.
Ask Christ and Mary to help you to do the meditation fruitfully.
For meditation material it is recommended that you use the Gospel, a commentary on the Gospel, a spiritual book, or other writings and personal notes. Your spiritual director’s advice will be very helpful in choosing which sources and materials to use for your prayer.
The following or similar questions may help you find points to reflect on and ways to apply your meditation to your life:
What is the Lord trying to tell me in this Gospel passage (or reading)?
What resonance does it have in my heart?
What implications does it entail for my life?
How have I behaved up to now in this respect?
How should I behave from now on?
What difficulties will I have to overcome?
What means do I need to use to do so?
Talk to the Father, Christ, and the Blessed Virgin about these points in order to evoke the movements that stir the heart and move the will to make some practical resolutions, which are the fruit of your meditation.
Finish the meditation by thanking God for the good resolutions you made and for the insights you received in the meditation. Ask forgiveness for your distractions or negligence.
To evaluate the meditation, you could ask yourself the following or similar questions:
Is there anything in me that is not as God would have it?
Do I detest whatever keeps me from doing God’s will?
Do I desire to follow his will always, out of love for Christ and souls?
Did I prepare myself well for the meditation? Did I create an atmosphere of prayer before I started?
Did I use well all the time I had, from start to finish?
Did I concentrate on the meditation, fighting against laziness, distractions, tiredness, and difficulties?
Was my meditation a conversation with Christ?
Did I remain humble before God?