What I Learned by Meditating During Lent

During Lent I practiced meditating for 10 minutes per day.

Here’s what I did and what I learned from it.

Meditation: What Is It?

Quite simply, meditation is a form of prayer where you focus your mind for a period of time on some attribute of God, Christ, His Church, etc.

For instance, you could spend 10 minutes meditating in silence on God’s goodness, or His omnipotence, or His omniscience, or Christ’s life on earth, His Passion, the marks of the Church, and so on.

It will be hard at first. You may only make it through five minutes. You may have to go into a completely quiet room or church to block out distractions. Your mind may jump around everywhere to worries, tasks you need to do, or fears, but you simply train it back to your topic of meditation.

This is not Eastern Mysticism, Buddhist meditation, centering prayer, or anything like that. It is an ancient Catholic practice of prayer.

Meditation: A Key to Growing in Holiness

Why meditate? One cannot become as holy as God wills without meditation. The saints all meditated (and ascended to higher levels of prayer). One cannot conquer venial sin without meditation, a claim I had never heard before!

Meditation is the gateway to deeper forms of prayer, but you can’t bypass it. Years ago I read books by St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila–two saints considered geniuses on prayer–but it was too deep for me. I couldn’t understand, practically, how to meditate and begin to penetrate into the inner levels of the Interior Castle.

How to meditate

Sit or kneel in silence for as long as you are able meditating on some truth of the Catholic Faith. Your goal should be 15 minutes of meditation. For me that means about 7 minutes in the morning and 8 in the evening, but I’m working up to more.

  1. Prepare: Place yourself in God’s presence and pray for the grace to pray.
  2. Begin the meditation:
    1. Reflect on particular subject, some truth of God or the Faith (more on this later).
    2. Affections like sorrow for sin, hope in God, and love arise in your heart from considering the subject of your meditation.
    3. Offer petitions in your heart to God: for people in your life, for yourself, your family, your enemies, for the Church, and so on.
    4. Resolve to conquer your main vice or grow in a needed virtue.
  3. Conclusion: Thank God for the graces He gave you

For beginners like me, ten to fifteen minutes of meditation per day is all I can handle. Some of the saints were known to meditate for hours at a time—a feat I don’t suggest you attempt immediately.

What I Learned From Meditating During Lent

Meditating was hard. 

I got distracted every time. Sometimes I did a good job quickly bringing my mind and heart back to the meditation, othertimes I got wrapped up in worries about my family, work, children, and so on.

But God also sent bursts of grace: moments of deep peace, quietness, His gentle presence.

The main learning was: by showing up each day to meditate, I show God I want to be a saint. 

I want to spend time with Him. Just showing up and trying is a big part of the battle of prayer. And I trust He will bless the effort with grace. Without grace, it is impossible to meditate or grow in holiness. But God promises His grace to us, so we can have child-like confidence and simply ask Him for this grace to meditate.

I didn’t stop meditating once Lent ended. Instead, I’ve continued meditating each day (well, most days), and plan to keep it going.

My recommendation: begin meditating today!

Pray Catholic Novena App–1 Year later

A year ago my friend Chad and I published Pray: the Catholic Novena App to the Apple app store.

Honestly, we didn’t know what to expect. Would Catholics find this app helpful in their prayer life?

I knew it helped me to remember to pray novenas and to not forget which day I was on, but would other Catholics find it similarly useful?

One Year, And Countless Novenas Later

Well, the verdict came in: Catholics loved the app. We were inundated with (mostly) five-star reviews, novena requests, and emails of thanks. We saw prayer warriors from Tanzania to England, the Philippines to Japan, Australia to Sweden and many countries in between.

We listened to what users wanted and implemented their requests in the app.

Along the way, I was touched by the heartfelt emails that people sent to me through the app–yes they all go right into my email–with requests for prayers on everything from cancer to depression, to finding their future spouse to conceiving children.

I could relate to most of these requests–I had prayed novenas for the very same hopes!–and so a community was born based around this ancient devotional practice within Christ’s Church.

Novenas Answered

During my single years, while seeking God’s vocation for my life, I prayed numerous novenas to St. Joseph for wisdom in discernment and then for the grace to meet my future wife.

It was through such prayers that I met my wife Catherine.

We hoped for children right away, but months passed and no children were conceived. So we prayed more novenas, and we conceived. We had such joy, but two months later we miscarried, the first first of three children we lost to miscarriage.

We turned again to God through novenas and conceived, and our son Edmund was born.

Again and again our Lord has been faithful to us through the prayers of the saints. Through the novenas, we have grown closer to these great saints as well, learning more about them, feeling a kinship with them in the communion of saints.

Androids Were Left Out

The only problem was: the Pray app was serving roughly half of Catholics: it was only on Apple devices like iPhones and iPads, not on Android ones. And given that many inexpensive Android devices are accessible and used by Catholics in developing countries and around the world, we needed to port the app to Android.

Technically speaking, this is a difficult task. It required a rewrite of the app using a different programming language on a completely different platform.

We did a crowdfunding campaign through IndieGogo and raised $1,300. Normally, that would not pay for even one-tenth of the price of a mobile app, but because Chad and I are programmers and have ties to the software development community, we were able to find a mutually beneficial situation with a up-and-coming Android developer. He was willing to write the app for almost the exact amount we had raised!

The result: we are now live in the Google Play store with the Pray app!

Novena Avalanche

I’ve been amazed at how many Catholics are now praying novenas with the app. Before the app, I prayed perhaps two novenas per year. In the past year, I prayed 19 novenas! The app made it that easy.

What’s also been amazing is how generous our patrons have been. Originally in the app, there was no way to pay for it (app was free) and no way to donate to our mission of spreading novena prayers around the world.

You could unlock novenas by sharing them with a friend. But people emailed me explaining they had already invited all their friends, or didn’t have many friends, so could they please just donate or pay us?

We listened and added in a patronage model. You could become a patron for $4.99 per year or $9.99 per year. You get the same benefits no matter which level you choose to become a patron at. The surprising result: half the patrons chose the higher level of patronage!

This was a big validation to us that our mission and execution of it in the app was helpful. People wanted us to continue work on the app, and so we have. By their generosity we have been able to add more features, more novenas, bring it to Android, and have many other plans for it.

Going on Right Now, Huge Novena

As this goes to publication, not only is the app now on Android, but also we’ve added the amazing Divine Mercy Novena to the app.

This novena and the Chaplet that goes with it has been a favorite of mine ever since I learned of it shortly after becoming Catholic. The Marians kindly gave me permission to add the novena to the app, for which I am grateful.

The app is becoming the #1 Catholic app in the world. Join us and begin to grow closer to God in prayer!

Meditate to Exterminate Pornography Addiction

This post is for Catholic Men.

Guys, I’m excited to share with you a “secret” to conquering porn and growing strong in purity that I have been learning about.

Tell Me the Secret Devin

The “secret” is to start practicing meditation (also called mental prayer).

Meditation is an ancient Catholic practice which all the saints did on a regular basis. It is not Eastern mysticism but firmly Catholic in nature.

In meditation you pray silently, without words, lifting your heart and soul to God, while you train your mind upon some truth of God.

That truth might be Christ’s Passion and Death, His Resurrection, God’s omnipotence, His goodness, His love, His justice, His mercy, His Church, some aspect of Christ’s life, His saints, and so on.

Start with just 5 minutes per day, then build up to 10, then 15 minutes.

What’s the Catch?

There is no catch. But while it is simple, it is not easy. When I meditate, a hundred distracting thoughts invade my mind: about my work, my family, what I’m going to eat for dinner.

And suddenly I’ll feel the soreness in my neck and back and get distracted from prayer; I’ll be thinking about the game I plan to watch, and get distracted again!

But you simply catch those distractions, put them out of your mind, and train yourself back onto the topic of your meditation. God, who gives grace to us, will help you as you do this.

I haven’t had a miraculous meditation yet, where I was lifted up to Heaven and saw visions–nor do I expect that to happen–it has been pretty ordinary overall, but I have faith in God and in the lives of the saints that this practice is powerful in growing in holiness.

What should you do to go further about this and learn more about conquering porn? Sign up right here for the webinar: