Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
Does God really care?
Holy days of obligation, abstaining or doing some extra pious work on Friday, yearly confession, staying until the end of Mass, avoiding venial sin - does God really care about these things? Often, when we are overwhelmed with our schedules and we look at the Mass times for the next holy day of obligation, we become exasperated. All the "rules" of the Church can often seem pedantic. Isn't the point just to love God and neighbor and do our best? Even more than that, can't we become scrupulous if all we focus on are these "rules"?
Often, when we break these rules we feel a little guilty and eventually force ourselves to go to confession. It doesn't feel like the stakes are very high. But in the first reading the rules of the Old Testament are a matter of life and death.
Eleazar has an out. He can even technically not break the rules and get away with his life intact. Why won't he do it? Is he being scrupulous?
Indeed, all of the commandments are summed up in loving God and neighbor. We don't want our religious practice to be simple practice. We want it to be fueled by the love that our gracious God gives us. Scruples is a terrible affliction and we want to avoid giving into that tendency. But maybe we are asking the wrong question.
Do we care? Are our hearts focused on God our on ourselves? Do we care that our example will either uplift or discourage others around us? Do we remember that even if we don't understand the ins and outs of all the "rules" that these things are helps and guides that impel us to love God and neighbor?
Being a Catholic is often difficult, for sure. But when we examine our hearts and remember how much God loves us, we realize that our actions not only reflect what's in our hearts, but help form them to be more and more like the heart of Christ.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
How do I fall into the trap of seeing my faith as just a set of rules?
How often do I focus more on how I fail than on God's love for me?
In what ways is my heart focused on God? On myself?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"I love you, Lord."
"Increase my faith."
"Thank you for caring."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Forget about the rules today. Take time to love God on your own, regardless of rules or obligations. Spend time in prayer, go sit in Adoration, attend daily Mass, read scripture- just do something outside of the faith obligations you have for yourself.
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Today’s Prayer was prepared by Fr. Anthony Sciarappa who was ordained in 2016 and is a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
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