Mental Prayer and Meditation (4)
Rev José Mario O Mandía
Talk about Providence. Just as I sat down in front of the computer to write this piece, Catholic-Links posted an image that read, “Don’t say God is silent when your Bible is closed.”
The truth is, God is always speaking to us, but just like when we listen to the radio, we have to “tune in” to Him. The Compendium of the Catechism (no 558) tells us four ways — four communication channels — through which God speaks to us: (1) “the Word of God;” (2) “the Liturgy of the Church;” (3) “the theological virtues;” and (4) “everyday situations because in them we can encounter God.”
THE WORD OF GOD – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
God’s Word is powerful, it packs a punch and is life-changing.
LITURGY – St Josemaría suggests, “Your prayer should be liturgical. How I would like to see you using the psalms and prayers from the missal, rather than private prayers of your own choice” (The Way, no 86).
Why the Liturgy? The Liturgy is an act of worship which includes prayers from the Sacred Scripture and also from Sacred Tradition, through which God talks about Himself to us.
What is Sacred Tradition? Sacred Tradition is the oral preaching of Jesus Christ handed down (“tradition” comes from the Latin “tradere”, to hand on or hand over) to his apostles. These, in turn, handed on the teaching to their followers, among whom we find the early Church Fathers, who then passed it on to the next generation, and all the way to us.
Why is there a need for Tradition? Because “there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Our Lord’s explanations to his disciples of his teaching were passed on first by oral Tradition. Sacred Tradition helps us to understand Sacred Scripture better.
THEOLOGICAL VIRTUES – “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
Faith reveals to us things that are beyond our powers of observation and reasoning. Just as a drone hovering above the ground makes us see things from another angle, faith also makes us see our life from a different perspective.
Hope acts like a pair of binoculars. It helps us see beyond today and look forward to the future – life everlasting.
Love is a source of prayer because prayer is a conversation, and we only converse with people we love.
– God spoke, and everything was made. God created through His Word. We can discover God through everything He made. And because He continues to govern the world through his Providence, we can hear a bit of His voice if we are attentive enough. Nothing happens without God’s will, or at least without His permission. And as St Josemaría loved to repeat, “We know that in everything God works for good” (Romans 8:28). Even when things go wrong (according to our definition of “wrong”), we need to listen more carefully. God is trying to tell us something.