For my meditation project, I chose to commit to weekly scripture reading. I had, in the past, been committed to the daily exercise of meditating on scripture, and I had been blessed to enjoy its many fruits. For reasons that are actually nothing more than worthless excuses, I fell out of this habit. That was a year and a half ago. I have made many feeble attempts to pick up the practice again, but I have found little success. I entered into this assignment with much excitement. Finally, I would have to be dedicated. I would have to follow through. This is homework after all.
I began by spending some time prayerfully considering where to begin my reading. Over the summer, I found myself frequently inspired by the second reading at mass. Since this is usually from one of St. Paul’s letters, I chose that as my starting point. I decided to start at the beginning. Romans 1. It didn't take long for me to realize that this wasn’t going to be as easy as I had hoped. I didn't get very far before I was lost in my head. What was Paul talking about? What do his words mean in terms of justification? Does he support a belief in predestination? What was it that Luther said about this part? Do our works really matter? Stop. I needed to stop. This wasn’t what was supposed to be happening. I was supposed to be opening my mind and my heart. I was supposed to be allowing God to speak to me. I needed to stop making everything an intellectually theological debate.
According to the catechism, meditation is supposed to deepen my faith. It should convert my heart and strengthen me to do God’s will. Instead, it was confusing me in my faith. It didn't even have a chance to reach my heart because I was so caught up in my head. I couldn't hear God’s will through what I was reading. I was getting discouraged.
Perhaps the obvious decision would have been to choose something else in the Bible. Whether it was pride and stubbornness or some sort of noble determination is debatable, but either way, I stuck with Romans. I decided that no matter what happened during my prayer time, I was going to end on a good note. I would end with a resolution – something from the scripture I had read that I could incorporate practically into my day that day.
This proved to be a big help to me. Knowing that the resolution was coming at the end helped me to focus during the process. I began reading the chapter for the day slowly, trying to consider its words carefully with my mind and my heart. Through that process, I discovered a new trust in God. I knew that not all of the words had to make sense in my head. I knew that I could struggle with the theology and everything would still be okay. I learned how to trust that while God’s words will always contain greater depths of meaning than I could hope to grasp, He will always send His Spirit upon me to enlighten me. He will always lead me to the understanding necessary for me to grow closer to Him.
This served as a metaphoric reminder to me for my life. I was not in a good place spiritually throughout the duration of this project. My life seemed like a dark abyss that was approaching with increasing speed and against my will. I couldn't see where God was taking me. I couldn't understand how He was working in my life. However, just as I learned to trust Him in my prayer, I learned to trust Him (again) in my life.
God’s will is not that much clearer to me. The abyss is still there. But my mind has learned to listen to my heart a little bit better, and, by uniting them in prayer, I have been given the strength to trust God in the moment. To ask myself what He wants of me now. Today. Whether Paul thought we are justified by faith or by works can wait. There is something more important, because today, God is calling me to be quiet, to approach Him in humility, and to listen.