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What is this book?
Over the last ten years, I have learned to enjoy and rely on daily meditation books, both Christian (Living Faith, The Upper Room, Daily Bread) and general recovery material (such as Melody Beattie’s “The Language of Letting Go”). They allow me/teach me to meditate or work on an issue every day, or several times a day, without having to spend a great deal of time in any one session. I’ve also learned to appreciate and enjoy anthologies, both Christian (such as Benedict Groeschel’s “The Journey Toward God”) and general (such as Norton’s “Anthologies of World Literature” or Stephen Mitchell’s “The Enlightened Heart”). These books are a compilation of a variety of information from a large number of sources into handy and easy-to-use formats that are both interesting and entertaining. They are a library at your fingertips.
This book, I hope, combines the best of both of these types of literature into one Christian source of both meditative material and training in the practice of meditation. It combines the writings of many of the great Christian Saints, whose lives have been examples of how to live a holy life in all times and places, along with similar Bible readings, and various types of Christian prayer and meditation practices.
Why is it needed?
My temperament (highly charged and active) and experiences (a non-cleric lacking in meditative and mind training in my religious tradition) make it difficult to live a serene, devout and unchaotic life by learning meditative techniques. I need sources of inspiration that are short and directive but still allow me to experiment with different types of meditation.
Why am I compiling it?
I searched far and wide for a book of the type I needed. I didn’t find one. There are very few Christian anthologies and most are out of print. Most available anthologies are of the world religions variety that lacked in traditional Christian sources. While I’ve enjoyed and learned much from these sources, they were not what I am looking for in this most recent part of my spiritual journey. Meditative material I’ve seen was generally non-Christian, were developed for Christian clerics in the Middle Ages or were fairly recent meditations of the Gnostic variety. Again, while all of these sources are useful in my spiritual development, they are not what I need at this moment.
Since I didn’t find the book I needed, I was “inspired” to compile it myself. I evidently need to teach others what I, myself, need to learn. While it is odd, I suspect that there is a real spiritual principal at work here.
Though I’ve written this book primarily for my own use, I hope that it will be useful for others for their growth and God’s glory. I hope that it will meet the needs of Christian from a variety of traditions. I’ve learned much from non-Christian sources and I suspect that this book will be a useful source of inspiration and Christian knowledge for any “searcher for God.”
The layout of Book
The book is developed as 365 daily units. It is not being built on either a Church year or calendar year. Day one is the day you open and use the book. The meditation for each day will include the following:
-a title,(in bold)
-a short meditative phrase in brackets (in bold and underlined),
-a reading from one of the Saints/Fathers of the Church,
-a related Bible reference (in italics),
-a short reflection in commentary form meant to give perspective to the readings and includes relevant questions to get the thoughts flowing, and
-writing space either for reflections or resolutions
To help your practice of prayer and meditation , here are some suggestions that have been part of the tradition of Christian spirituality:
*Create a sacred space: “When you pray, go to your private room, shut yourself in, and so pray to your God who is in the secret place, and your God who sees all that is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6)
*Open yourself to the power of prayer: Remind yourself that God is present and consciously place yourself in His presence. Come to prayer with an open mind, heart and will. Be flexible because God’s Spirit goes where God wills it.
*Read meditatively: Read the writings of the Saint and the Bible passage. Take your time reading. If a particular phrase touches you, stay with it for a while. Do not hurry.
*A number of meditative approaches can be used for any of the daily meditations. By using a variety of techniques, this book can be used for years without repeating any meditation in an identical manner. Meditative approaches include the following:
-Centering Prayer– After reading the writing of the Saint and Bible, use either the short phrase in parentheses after the title or any other that you feel “inspired” to use. It will help you to focus your prayer by repeating it slowly in harmony with your breathing. (See meditation one and 2)
-Lectio Divina– This type of meditation, “divine studying,” is a concentrated reflection on the readings. Read the passages several times and then concentrate on one or two sentences that inspire you, pondering their meaning for you and their effect on you. Let your reading and thinking lead you to prayer on the topic. End by writing a resolution noting how the reading will change your life in the space provided. (See meditation seven and 60)
-Guided Meditation– In this type of meditation, our imagination helps us consider alternative actions and likely consequences. Read the scene or story several times and place yourself in it. What character are you? How do you feel? How do you act? (See meditation five and 47)
-Examen of consciousness– Examine how God has been speaking to you in your past and present experience. Examine your awareness of God’s presence in your life. (See meditation 11 and 29)
-Journal writing– Writing is a process of discovery. Reserve a special notebook for your writings. If you like, you can go back to your journal entries at a future time for an examen of consciousness. (See meditation six and 58)
*End with a Prayer of Silence – After completing your meditation, end with silence, simply listening to anything the Holy Spirit wishes to tell you. This is not easy and takes much practice to eliminate unwanted ego thoughts. It is suggested that you start with brief periods of such silence and increase their time and frequency as you become more skilled. The following schedule will help you to slowly build up time in silent prayer:
Day Duration Frequency Total Time (min)
1-5 1 min 2x(on rising/sleeping) 2
6-10 2 min 2 x 4
11-15 3 min 2 x 6
16-20 2 min 4 x 8
21-25 5 min 2 x 10
26-30 3 min 4 x 12
31-35 2 min 7 x 14
36-40 4 min 4 x 16
41-45 2 min 9 x 18
46-50 10 min 2 x 20
51-55 2 min 11 x(every hour) 22
56-60 12 min 2 x 24
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