Sample of guided meditation
St Teresa of Avila tells us that when she first started Mental Prayer she needed a book to help her but adds that later, she had no need of any stimulus.
Brother Lawerence refers to “the many books written on the subject of mental prayer” and suggests to his penitents, to find one that suits them.
The following is an example of how these meditations were laid out. This particular guide is adapted from the work of Father Paul Segneri S.J. born in Italy in 1664. It was translated into English from the Italian in 1851.
A chosen piece of scripture was read and was meditated upon in three parts. Used on retreats these would be divided into morning, noon and evening. Each meditation is called “Considerations”.
Having ‘considered’ -meditated upon the implications of the short piece of scripture we are then directed to consider its “Application” to our own spiritual life.
Affections and resolutions are the terms used in the final part of this type of guided mental prayer. The affection is for God and we show it through personal conversational prayer with Him. The Resolutions are decisions to overcome faults within us highlighted in the scripture we just read. Or by the Divine Guidance we received during the Mental Prayer.
For instance here is a meditation which uses the Shepherds of Bethlehem to make us consider the virtues of Humility, Poverty and Mortification
Read Luke chapter 2 8 14
And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock.
And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear.
And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
For, this day, is born to you a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.
And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying:
Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will.
The shepherds of Bethlehem
Consider firstly in what way the birth of Christ was made known to the shepherds by the angels. They were surrounded by a bright light and were seized by great fear; the brightness of God shone around about them and they feared with a great fear.
Such is the way in which Almighty God prepares souls to receive spiritual favours; he illuminates their intellect with a bright light, and at the same time awakes and sends into the heart a deeper reverence and holy fear. Then great joy was announced to the shepherds, because the birth of the saviour of the world.
Application to your own life
There is indeed great cause for joy when Jesus is born spiritually in a heart. What real joy will there be at Christmas unless the holy infant be born in your heart by love and by Grace.
Reflections and resolutions
My heart shall rejoice in my salvation I Will sing unto the Lord who has given me good things (ps xii v 7)
Secondly consider what the sign was that was given to the shepherds so that they might find the divine infant; you shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
So the child would be clad in the poorest of garments, lying, in a manger normally used for animal feed.
Application to your own life.
Reflect on the fact that this is the only way you will find Jesus, namely in humility, poverty and mortification.
If you seek Him by another way with goals of ambition, of comforts, of attachment to worldly goods: you will not find Jesus.
But if you exercise yourself in those virtues of humility, poverty and mortification. there will be sure signs of the holy infant been born within you.
Affections and resolutions
Turn away my eyes less they hold vanity. (ps. cxviii,37)
The song the angels were singing when they appeared to the shepherds:
Glory to God in the highest and peace to men of good will
The Babe at Bethlehem came for two reasons: The one to proclaim the glory of God and two the good of mankind. God was now announcing this great herald by sending multitudes of His heavenly messengers to announce the glad tidings to these simple, poor shepherds.
This too is the object you also should have in view in your life and all your work.
All you do and all you are, should be directed to the glory of God preserving to yourself nothing of what belongs by right to God.
To God alone the honour and glory.
You should moreover seek for making peace with God through the pardon of your sins. Make peace with yourself by conquering the flesh over the spirit. and peace with your neighbour by unfeigned and real charity.
Finally this piece is not so much from men of great intellect or natural gifts. As for men of goodwill who strive to conform themselves to the example set them by Jesus and to imitate the virtues taught asked in his birth.
Affection and resolutions
Not onto us oh lord, not on to us, but onto thy name give glory (ps.cxiii,7)