Meditation: A Great Catholic Bonus
by A K Whitehead
Is our primary objective in life to become like Jesus? Of course. How
do we do it? Well, ask another one that will take less than fifty books
But there is an important way which can take us well down the road.
Moreover, it is a particular and integrated part of the Catholic
Not any kind of meditation – and certainly none of the kinds imported
from eastern religions such as Hinduism. It is a Catholic traditional way
hallowed by time and the efforts of saints co-operating with God’s
graces. These include such people as Ignatius of Loyola, John of the
Cross, Therese of Avila and many others.
Meditating On What?
One of the greatest expressions of God’s love for us is that he has
provided for us a book which reveals much about himself, the way
to salvation and what he desires of each of us. Most of all, perhaps,
there lies within it knowledge of how great is his personal love for each
That book is, of course, the Bible. Both the Old and, especially the
New Testament are there entirely for our benefit. Indeed, in recent
times the Catholic Church has drawn attention on several major
ocassion to the importance of Scripture and of the need for us to
avail ourselves of it.
Thus, for example, the Dogmatic Constitution On Divine Revelation
(promulgated by Pope Paul VI, 1965) stresses that … the
Father who is in heaven meets his children with great love and speaks
to them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that
it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith
for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of
This latter point is of particular relevance here: everlasting source of spiritual life. Moreover, after the Second
Vatican Council Catholics have had made available to them several
translations from the original languages of the Bible. For example, we
have the Jerusalem Bible, the New Jerusalem Bible and the New
American Bible. For those who do develop a love of, and interest in
Scripture, these are all available with explanatory footnotes and
introductions to the various books of the Bible which put them in
historical, cultural and spiritual context.
But it is sad that not many more Catholics seem to make use of what
is available to them through Scripture. The saints mentioned above, and
many, many others, spent time meditating on the sacred word of
God because it really did reveal God to them. This is especially
important for Christians when meditating on the New Testament.
Indeed, Ignatius of Loyola especially has highlighted the way in which we
meet Jesus in a new way through the gospels. God can
reach out to us in different ways when we properly reflect on the
word he has given to us.
We do buy the Bible but we seem to make little use of it.. Why?
Why Meditation Is Important
Probably the major reason is that people often find the Bible
to be boring. It is of little use to tell people that it is not boring if that is
their experience. There are many reasons for this impression. However,
the purpose here is not to explore these but to suggest that meditation
on God’s word in Scripture is the major way to discover
that it is anything but boring – in fact, to find that it is the most exciting
book every written. And that it is a key to unlocking our
further spiritual growth.
We cannot go into a proper instruction here on how to meditate on
Scripture, but we can make two major points which may encourage
the reader to explore further. (e.g. through the present writer’s
The Keys To Christian Meditation).
The first is that Scripture really is God’s word to us. The Catholic
Church does teach that every word of Scripture is divinely inspired.
Thus the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation says
it teaches without error that truth which God wanted put into
sacred writings… If God did this for our benefit, the least we
can do is make the effort to investigate it.
But secondly, we are missing the whole point if we seek to
undertake that for ourselves. This is one, if not the main reason
why people find the Bible boring. When we read the Bible, and most
of all when we meditate on it, we need to ask its Author to guide us.
That is the Holy Spirit, and it is he who will show us that his book is
anything but boring.
Let us understand clearly what this is concerned with. We are not talking
about that kind of divine revelation which properly belongs to the
Church. We are opening ourselves to those personal communications
of the Spirit to which so many of the saints have opened themselves.
God communicates with his people in all kinds of ways, but this is
one of the most important. And so many of us miss it. We
may not have lost the plot but reading the Book certainly
helps us to put it up front. And meditating on it does more
than merely keep it there. Meditation on Scripture has the potential
to bring us into a new experiencial knowledge of God and a much
deeper understanding of our life of faith.