Last week I said that one of the goals I hope for out of the way we worship now is that it makes us better pray-ers.
But I think we all know that being better prayers can't just be limited to what we do for an hour Sundays at Mass.
I think we understand that we need to develop a personal prayer.
We have probably heard that a thousand times at Mass.
We’ve probably told ourselves a thousand times, “I’m going to work on my personal prayer life.”
And then, unless it's Lent, and even then maybe not, we never really find a way to develop it
Or we get started—“I’m going to make some prayer time”—and we don't know what to do.
Most of us growing up all you really learn how to do is vocal prayers
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be...
Angel of God, St. Michael, Memorare…
We run through those and we’re like, “and… I'm out of stuff.”
We know there are other kinds of vocal prayers, personal vocal prayers
“Jesus I need these things.” “Jesus, help me with this.”
We’ve all done before a test we didn’t study for.
But that’s still vocal prayer. Not a bad thing, but can go up higher
The Church talks about vocal prayer, meditative prayer, contemplative prayer
How do we move to those higher levels?
Who is around to teach us that?
So I want to take a little time, and I want to do something that can help us, and will give you something that, a least a few times, you can try some meditative prayer.
Learn a little: how do we meditate.
"Is it like Buddhists? Hindus? Sit there and empty mind? Hmmmmmmmm”
No. Christian meditation has something else going on there.
Often when someone says, let’s teach you about meditation, they will use Scripture.
So you picture a scene: Read the scripture of Jesus and blind man or Jesus and woman at the well, and then you kind of walk through that.
And that's good. But what about other stuff? What about stuff that isn't a narrative you can picture yourself in?
I can't teach you all the ins and outs, but I want to give you a tool that will help you grow your own meditation.
I don’t have time to go super in-depth with it, but I want to kinda pull back the curtain and show you something and then you can go back to it.
Invite you to do something don't normally do:
Take out your phone if it has something to take notes
Pen and something to write on
Last night a woman was taking notes in her checkbook
But no checking scores or Facebook
Reap some ideas you can come back to
Open to 2nd Reading: Philippians Chapter 4. Pretty famous passage
"Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things."
What is meditation?
It’s what St. Paul just said: "Whatever is excellent or honorable—think about these things"
To think through then, with God alongside us.
Give you a taste and then encourage you to go home and some other time do this more thoroughly.
Quiet prayer time, a holy hour, instead of watching the Huskers struggle…
Put in a notebook instead of just a scrap, or in phone
Take some time and make eight little lists
Start asking those questions:
What is true? What is gracious?
I have my notebook. First tried this in 2007. Share a few of mine and invite you to start pondering and writing some of your own.
Whatever is true:
Those people or things that seem full of truth.
For me, started with some of my favorite authors:
Josef Pieper (wrote “Only the Lover Sings” which I referenced before),
Scott Hahn the famous convert
The 2nd chapter of Fellowship of the Ring, where Gandalf and Frodo talk about the ring and Bilbo and Gollum—best insights on human nature ever
Conversations with my friend Christine who works for FOCUS
and those with Fr. Chris Goodwin
Those are people who strike me as knowing what is true, and talk about what is true.
So come up with some of your own now. What are the things or people you look at and say: "That is true."
Hard thing to define. One of those things that I might not be able to define but I know what it is.
Not always appreciated today.
I think first of military personnel.
I think of my friend’s uncle who gave a toast at her wedding. He was a marine and had just come back from the Iraq War. Beautiful reflection on sacrifice. That’s part of honor.
Name of a guy who was just a high school kid when I wrote his name down here, and now he’s ordained priest.
Good friends from my high school days who are the definition of hard work, humility, honorable labor,
Good social dancing: swing, waltz, polka
What’s honorable? Write it down.
Right now you’re thinking, “If he didn’t take these long pause this could be a lot shorter homily.”
True. But if we didn’t do this right now, many of you would never do it.
What is just?
Heaven, hell, and purgatory, all three—pretty just.
“Paying for music.” Remember, my first list was from 2007 when how you got the music on your computer/iPod was much debated: Apple, friends, sketchy services
Some kinds of anger.
“Msgr. Barr’s corrections.” I was a deacon at St. Joe’s in Lincoln and he corrected be a lot. And three years later I could admit: tit was pretty darn just.
What's pure? First-graders are pure.
Mother Teresa’s motives
The Church, the Bride of Christ
Scotty Montgomery, now with the Franciscan Friars in NYC. Ironically, they gave him the religious name Br. Innocent.
Souls after a good confession
A snowy landscape
White marble statue of St. Cecilia in martyrdom
Taizé music (mentioned them last week)
This valley in Pennsylvania that when you’re eastbound on I-76 just opens up perfectly before you.
Gracious. Euphēma in Greek. Thesaurus says: welcoming, grateful, kindly, patient, humble
My first secretary when I was at St. Pat’s, Dian Densler
The way my sister tends to people
Hobbits and Rivendell
“If there is any excellence”
My friend Melissa’s laugh is excellent. Can hear it a mile away and it will keep going forever.
Michael Jordan’s final shot in Game 6 against the Utah Jazz.
A particular campfire in Virginia in 2000: perfect weather, incredible music, gorgeous scenery, amazing people
Jim’s cheesesteaks in Philadelphia
It’s a Wonderful Life
Everything about John Paul II
“If there is anything worthy of praise”
This is where you put anything else you haven’t gotten yet.
Worthy of praise?
Johnny Walker Black Label
Good bike rides and road trips
My pastor growing up, Fr. Tim Alkire
Marriage—and couples who live it out well
Dorothy Day, my favorite (hopefully) future saint
Diocese of Lincoln
God's plan for our lives
...worthy of praise
(I know it's a weird homily)
This is an appetizer.
But now, sometime in the future, take a quiet 30-60 minutes and do this completely.
Whole Philippians 4:8
Do them all and put them someplace permanent, cuz right now they might be on a napkin.
Take time with those lists and grow them.
Each of the eight. Take at least 5 minutes for each.
Ponder them and expand your whatevers.
Cool, I meditated!
Actually, not really.
You got fodder.
You got ammunition for mediation.
You filled up treasure chest.
Then, you come back next time you pray and you take just one of those: Gracious, Lovely...
And you walk through those.
You let God show you why those appeal to your heart.
Think about what's so pure or excellent.
Give thanks for those things, sing praise to God for them in your heart.
And as you go down that road, pondering with God —you're meditating!
That’s what Paul was talking about.
You're letting your mind chew on ideas.
But it's activating your heart and your soul.
And if you do that for those eight things, at whatever pace, over however many weeks, you'll be amazed at how it changes you.
You realize you can do meditative prayer.
You now have at least 9 prayer times in which you can do it.
You can pray on a level higher than just "Gosh, Jesus I want these things"
You're on the step to sainthood.
Because you're doing what saints do.
They think about divine things.
They long for the things of God.
Try it sometime:
Make your list.
Put it someplace like a prayer book or keep in a notebook.
Come back to them.
Ponder these things.
And let that, bit by bit, turn you into a saint.