Christian meditation is a means for union. A union of hearts made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christ’s death on the cross is a revelatory moment. What is being revealed? The depth of God’s love for each of us. Through Christ’s obedient sacrifice God has made himself known to us. Christian meditation is a journey into that revelation by which we become revealed to ourselves so like Christ we can give an obedient response to the invitation of love.
Being Revealed to Yourself
This first step of meditation for a Carmelite is thus a moment of exposure. In the wake of the cross, we need to ask ourselves what in us holds our gaze away from Christ. In the past this step has been called remote preparation. What is being prepared? We are! Why are we being prepared? To accept the offer of dwelling in the Lord’s gaze. Thus, through the love of Christ from the cross we can see what needs to be addressed in our lives. What chains of sin still restrain around our hearts? This question is one that a christian need never fear, why? Because it is a necessary step that we take in faith knowing that God desires us to live in his divine gaze. Consequently, christian meditation is a means of seeing. Seeing that begins with cross because it is by the cross that all bonds of sin have been broken and freedom won for us. Every text that a christian embraces will always play a role in this revelatory process because the texts we embrace always make known (intentionally or not) the hidden desires of the heart.
The Need for Prudence
Accepting the reality that meditation will begin to reveal God to us and us to ourselves that pious act must be guided by prudence. The act of reading offers the mind the necessary information to begin to know but also respond to what it is that a person is beginning to know. In our context it is God and it is our own hearts that respond to him. Union with God calls forth a heart that is utterly directed to the things of the Lord. Prudence is that virtue that aids a person in what they should do or avoid doing in order to reach the goal set before them. What texts we embrace for our sacrificial times of meditation must be done prudentially. What texts do you avoid in the Bible and why? Is a prudential question that could help a person see what false notions of God is being cultivated in their heart. Remember, what we choose to avoid in the Bible is an insidious means of selective editing due to the inordinate desires of the heart. Another big prudential question is, why do I want to meditate upon a certain book? This question helps a person to begin to understand the relationship that already exists between a book and the reader. Before a book is ever opened the act of choosing it begins the moment of meditation.
This first step of meditation is thus a moment of self-revealation that begins to show: what needs to occur in the heart, how might the necessary changes occur, and why they need to occur. To know is a means of seeing. Thus, as we seek to know God, we must be open to seeing ourselves through his love, made knowable in Christ. Why is this first step necessary? Because, by it we begin to accept and live out the promise of Psalm 27:13 “I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”
O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, descend into my soul and make all in me as an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to Him a super-added humanity wherein He renews His mystery; and You, O Father, bestow Yourself and bend down to Your little creature, seeing in her only Your beloved Son in whom You are well pleased.
~St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
(Part two: The First Step of Meditation in Carmel from the Devotio Moderna)