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).
“For those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart.”
Today we read the prayers of Azariah from within the fiery furnace he was thrown into for refusing to abandon his faith. What incredible perseverance, but it gets even better if you know the context of the story.
Israel had grown into one of the greatest nations in the world under King David and his son Solomon, and they built a beautiful Temple as its crowning jewel. But despite this, the Israelites’ hearts were far from God. Though God remained faithful, his people lived in sin, rivalry, and debauchery.
But then, the Babylonians laid siege to the kingdom, and the Israelites lost everything.
They had a kingdom, now they are slaves.
They had a religion, now their worship is illegal.
They had leaders, now they feel abandoned and lost.
They had a Temple, now it has been destroyed and they have no place to worship
This is where Azariah and his companions come in. All of the structures of their society which supported worship were taken away, and yet, Azariah and friends had heroic faith. The prayer we read today comes from within the fiery furnace, where God sends his angel to protect them from certain death.
The Temple, the priests, and the sabbath were like scaffolding that lifted them up towards the heavens and helped them remember that they were God’s nation.
But what do we do when the scaffolding of our faith is taken away?
Many of us are in a situation we’ve never seen before. In the wake of the Coronavirus global pandemic, many dioceses across North America have begun to cancel their public celebrations of the Mass, and it feels inevitable that more dioceses will be forced to take this step in order to protect the faithful- it’s been said, “in this situation, loving our neighbor means protecting our neighbor.” So in the case where we may not be able to gather for public prayer and worship for weeks or -God forbid- months, how do we respond in faith?
God dwells in a particular way in the Eucharist at Mass, but he also dwells within our hearts. His Spirit was poured into our hearts in baptism, and we truly became his children. God is not distant or far off, he is as close as your next breath. When you are unable to attend Mass, God knows you're longing to be with him.
If you’re unable to make it to Mass this Sunday, be united with Catholics around the world by reading the readings for the day. Trust the discernment of your priests and bishops. Ask a spiritual mentor how to make a “spiritual communion,” and know that the Mass is still being celebrated by priests around the world. Pray with confidence that your heart might be joined to that celebration.
In the mind of the Israelites, there was one place God dwelled: the Temple. Even though they lost the Temple, they never lost their faith. We know that each baptized Christian is a temple of the Spirit. Even if your Masses are taken away, pray with confidence to the Father, who dwells in your heart.
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 am I tending to my relationship with the Lord in the midst of the "scaffolding" of my faith being taken away?
What is God speaking to me in the midst of my despair? How is he consoling me in this climate of fear and anxiety?
How can I nurture my relationship with God here and now, while he dwells in my very self? How can I learn to better connect with God in the intimacy of my own heart?
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.
"Come, Holy Spirit."
"I am your temple."
"I long for you, Lord."
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?
Make a plan for this coming Sunday. If you cannot attend Mass, look into ways you can live-stream Mass and still participate from home. If you can attend, ask a friend or family member who lives in an area where they cannot attend Mass to share intentions that you can bring with you to Mass this coming Sunday.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's Prayer was prepared by Chris O'Hara, an evangelist in Canada.
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