Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
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).
Alright my friends, it’s honesty time: you see I like to think of myself as a fairly nice individual. I hold doors open for people that are walking in behind me, I smile at TSA agents in the airport, and I would definitely let someone know if I saw them drop their wallet. See, a generally nice person. But in the midst of all my niceness (in between all of the please and thank yous) there does exist one thing that produces severe cracks within my kind exterior: hanger. As defined by Urban Dictionary, it refers to “a lethal combination of hunger and anger.” I know that may sound ridiculous, but it’s a real thing. I may be a generally nice human being, but when the hunger hits, I turn into a monster.
I remember one specific instance in which my hanger was on full display. I was hanging out with some friends in college when we decided to head to Chipotle for dinner. I was already fairly hungry when the decision was made and the closest Chipotle was a good 45 minutes away from campus. So, needless to say, by the time we finally made it to our destination, I was nothing short of a raging hanger beast. But as we stood in line waiting to place our order (at which point I was practically foaming at the mouth), one of my good friends leaned over and simply said to me, “Count it all as joy, Lauren, count it all as joy.”
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t necessarily in a place to hear/process my friend’s gentle suggestion in the midst of my hangery haze, but it certainly still resonated with me. You see, at the time, I would’ve defined joy as a feeling, an emotion that comes and goes as it pleases, that we have no control over. But in today’s first reading, the way that St. James approaches joy seems to indicate that we have some choice in the matter: “consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of faith produces perseverance.” Like my friend, St. James tells us to consider (or count) it all as joy and that wording seems to suggest that joy is less of an emotion that randomly overcomes us and more of a perspective that we deliberately choose. And there is so much freedom that comes when we accept this truth because we are able to see that, through the grace of God, joy is something that is within our control. It’s not elusive or outside of us, it is something we can choose (yes, even in the midst of raging hanger).
So today, let us ask the Lord for the grace to choose joy, even in the midst of all of our sufferings and frustrations.
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.
Would you prefer to be upset or joyful today? Which would bring you true peace and open you to embrace God's love? Which will help you grow in holiness? Will you choose to live joyfully today?
How do you handle difficult situations? What is your normal response to something that frustrates or challenges you?
How can you change that reaction to joy? What can you do to prepare yourself to respond with joy to the next situation that you normally react badly to?
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.
"Give me the grace."
"I choose joy."
"I choose Your love."
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?
Focus on choosing joy instead of anger, frustration, annoyance, or any other negative emotion/reaction today. Be intentional with your actions, but remember that you can't do it alone. Ask God for the grace to choose joy and live the day in peace.
Smartphone Lock Screen
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Today's prayer was prepared by Lauren Wright, a Youth Minister in Rockford, IL.
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