Jan 6, 2010

Charlie Brown is in the house!

It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown
A few months ago a friend of mine gave me a copy of "Meditation and Contemplation" by Father Timothy M. Gallagher, O.M.V. Every now and then I stumble on a book or article that is transformational for me. I realize this particular book might not have a similar effect on others but over the years it has been difficult to understand what the terms meditation and contemplation mean in regard to prayer. I have listened and tried different approaches from extremely intelligent and holy people but with little success.
Success meaning, of course, a deeper and more frequent discourse with God. This easy to read, humble, and simple "Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture" has enlightened me to the simple fact that prayer is best taught by what St.Ignatius actually says in his Spiritual Exercises and by illustrating Ignatius's teaching through experience. Fr. Gallagher uses scripture as a launching pad for meditation, or the reflective approach, and contemplation, the imaginative approach. Meditation reflects on particular scriptural passages three ways: first we call to mind this truth, then ponder it, and last embrace all this with love. Contemplation on scripture uses imagination to first see the persons in the passages, second, to hear their words, and third, to observe their actions. Fr. Gallagher shows us people he has known and their experiences with this approach to prayer. I feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy calls him out for his lack of common sense:"You Blockhead Charlie Brown!" This could be called my Eureka! moment. It seems I have some experience with this type of prayer after all. The rosary, has for some time, been a contemplative prayer for me, especially the sorrowful mysteries. I am there in the garden, at the scourging, the crowning, the falling, and the death. Now, because of Fr. Gallagher and ongoing formation in the Secular Franciscan Order, I know that prayer is simple, understandable, and a personal connection through Sacred Scripture with God even for a "Blockhead" like me. JMJ. Mick