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