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).
I think there is a temptation sometimes to view the life of a Catholic as something soft and meek. We see images of Jesus that present Him with a mild, gentle demeanor, with a lamb in his arms and sun beams softly glistening off the lilies behind Him, and assume that to be a Christian means to soften all of your edges and adopt a sort of syrupy attitude toward reality. That Christians are Christians just because of their naivety toward the way the world "actually works" and couldn't bear to handle the harshness of "real life." I think for anyone who desires a life of adventure, then, the Christian life can seem inadequate for providing that kind of excitement.
I love that Adam was not created in the Garden of Eden. If you read the account in Genesis of Adam's creation, it says he was created and THEN placed in the Garden. The Garden represents order and security; outside of it was wilderness. Adam was created in the wild. Something always remains in our hearts of that desire for the wild and this is essential to the Christian life if we ever hope to be effective witnesses to the Gospel in our increasingly secular culture.
I like to compare it to a wild mustang. A horse like that has immense strength and freedom that can only be used for good when it consents to allow itself to be saddled and led. It keeps all of its toughness and wildness, but can now just point it in a particular direction and put it to good use. If we are going to be real witnesses to Jesus Christ, we need to retain our inner desire for the wild, but allow the Holy Spirit to direct and perfect it.
This is the example of Paul in this reading. Imagine this scene: he gets stoned for preaching the Gospel, when only five chapters before in the Acts of the Apostles he was the one stoning Christians, and this leaves him so beat up, bloodied, and bruised that they leave him outside the city, believing they had completed their task and had in fact killed him. Almost immediately, though, he drags his broken body up and reenters the city that had just tried to kill him.
This is how following the Lord in our culture can feel sometimes. We can be so beat up by the negativity and the sin that we see all around us that our desire is to just give up out of fatigue and disappointment. Paul is our example here. Crushed, defeated, and discouraged, we have to have enough wildness in our hearts to drag our tired bodies and souls back up and have one more go at it. Back into the breach. Back into the city.
Couragio, my friends. Literally, take heart. Have courage.
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.
Where in your life do you feel the desire for wildness and adventure? How have you tamed that, and how can you use that desire for wildness for good?
When you hear the story of St. Paul, what do you imagine that experience was like for him? How can you seek to have the bravery and courage of Paul?
What are the things in your life that hurt you, crush you, and push you down? What ways do you find courage? Who are the people / places / etc. that remind you that God is good, the fight is worth it, and encourage you to get back up? If you don't actively have those things, how can you seek them out?
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.
"Make me courageous."
"I long to be wild."
"Help me get back up."
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?
Go back to the third set of questions from the Oratio stage before. Focus on something or someone that gives you courage, and make a plan to see the courage and heart that you gain there in a special way today. Maybe it's setting up a time to get together with good friends; maybe it's getting back to a more consistent time of prayer; maybe it's seeking out a good spiritual book. Whatever it is, make a plan to let the Lord encourage your heart and call you to adventure.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Tim Glemkowski, Youth & Young Adult Minister at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, IL.
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