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Reflection by Robbie Frei at the Sodality's Advent Lessons & Carols Assembly

In the reading we heard about the shepherds who visit Mary, Joseph, and Jesus on the first Christmas. In it, we find a familiar, recurring phrase in the gospel of Saint Luke, “And Mary pondered all these things in her heart.” Throughout the gospel of Luke, this sentence appears four times: at the annunciation, the nativity, the presentation in the temple, and at the finding of the child Jesus in Jerusalem. In a historical sense, this is evidence that Luke obtained most of his information about Jesus’ life from Mary, but in a moral sense, this exemplifies an important focus of prayer and meditation: contemplation.

Mary is our role model for how to live our lives as Jesus’ followers, and this instance is no exception. Contemplation, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, means ”concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion.” But it also gives a second definition, “a state of mystical awareness of God’s being.” This second definition shows that, through contemplation, we can become aware of God’s presence in our lives. Nobody knew Jesus better than Mary, in part because she watched Jesus’ actions, remembered them, and meditated upon them. As Pope Saint John Paul II wrote in the apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, “No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. The eyes of her heart already turned to him at the Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit” (§11). If we follow her example we may grow closer to God as well. 

But how can we meditate upon the mysteries of Christ? We can do this is through the Lectio Divina, the prayer that many of you already pray through Tutoria. Latin for “divine word”, the benedictine tradition is focused around trying to find the messages in the Word of God. This can be done on a passage, or even center around a single word. The Word of God is not only a reference for us, but is both alive and God speaking directly to us, through the holy spirit.

Another way we can meditate, like Mary, on the word of God, is through the rosary. Some of you may have noticed that the places in the bible where Mary pondered in her heart were four of the five Joyful mysteries of the rosary. This is no coincidence. In the rosary we meditate directly on these mysteries of christ, all the while seeking guidance from Mary. This is the most important devotion we have as Catholics, where we join fully into the meditation of Mary throughout the scriptures. In every apparition Mary has ever made to us, she has stressed the importance of praying the rosary. I urge you all to try and find time in your lives to pray the rosary, as it does wonders. Fr. Bede once told me that if you pray the rosary every day, you will never have to worry about a thing in your life. These words have rang true for me; I tried to pray the rosary as much as I could in October and I found myself more calm, peaceful, and growing closer to God, the focus of our prayer life.

If we imitate Mary, our prayer can become more meaningful and powerful, bringing us closer to God and improving our lives, both now and after our death. I will leave you all with a beautiful poem my younger sister wrote about prayer:

A powerful thing, Prayer

You Speak, He listens

Anytime, Anywhere

He listens

Prayer doesn’t have to be big

As long as its there

And if you pay close attention

You notice,

He answers

As long as you listen back

“Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.”

Prologue, 1

“This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice.”

Prologue, 1

“First of all, every time you begin a good work, you must pray to him most earnestly to bring it to perfection.”

Prologue, 4

“If you desire true and eternal life, keep your tongue free from vicious talk and your lips from all deceit; turn away from evil and do good; let peace be your quest and aim. (Ps 33[34]:13)”

Prologue, 17

“Clothed then with faith and the performance of good works, let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide, that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess 2:12).”

Prologue, 21

“If we wish to dwell in the tent of this kingdom, we will never arrive unless we run there by doing good deeds.”

Prologue, 22

“What is not possible to us by nature, let us ask the Lord to supply by the help of his grace.”

Prologue, 41

“Therefore, we intend to establish a school for the Lord’s service.”

Prologue, 45

“The good of all concerned, however, may prompt us to a little strictness in order to amend faults and to safeguard love.”

Prologue, 47

“The reason why we have said all should be called for counsel is that the Lord often reveals what is better to the younger.”

Chapter 3, 3

“Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way; the love of Christ must come before all else.”

Chapter 4, 20-21

“Never give a hollow greeting of peace or turn away when someone needs your love.” –Chapter 4, 25-26

“Bind yourself to no oath lest it prove false, but speak the truth with heart and tongue.”

Chapter 4, 27-28

“Place your hope in God alone.”

Chapter 4, 41

“Respect the elders and love the young.”

Chapter 4, 70-71

“Pray for your enemies out of love for Christ. “

Chapter 4, 72

“If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.”

Chapter 4, 73

“The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all.”

Chapter 5, 1-2

“Speaking and teaching are the master’s task; the disciple is to be silent and listen.”

Chapter 6, 6

“The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (PS 35[36]:2) and never forgets it.”

Chapter 7, 10

“Let us consider, then, how we ought to behave in the presence of God and his angels, and let us stand to sing the psalms in such a way that our minds are in harmony with our voices.”

Chapter 19, 6-7

“On arising for the Work of God, they will quietly encourage each other, for the sleepy like to make excuses.”

Chapter 22, 8

“Every age and level of understanding should receive appropriate treatment.”

Chapter 30, 1

“Above all, let him be humble. If goods are not available to meet a request, he will offer a kind word in reply, for it is written: A kind word is better than the best gift (Sir 18:17).”

Chapter 31, 13-14

“Let all the rest serve one another in love.”

Chapter 35, 6

“Indeed, nothing is to be preferred to the Work of God.”

Chapter 43, 3

“Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore, the brothers should have specified periods for manual labor as well as for prayerful reading.”

Chapter 48, 1

“The life of a monk ought to be a continuous Lent.”

Chapter 49, 1

“All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for he himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me (Matt 25:35).”

Chapter 53, 1

“Proper honor must be shown to all, especially to those who share our faith (Gal 6:10) and to pilgrims.”

Chapter 53, 2

“(B)ecause wherever we may be, we are in the service of the same Lord and doing battle for the same King.”

Chapter 61, 10

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other (Rom 12:10).”

Chapter 63, 17

“We wish this rule to be read often in the community, so that none of the brothers can offer the excuse of ignorance.”

Chapter 66, 8

“Trusting in God’s help, he must in love obey.”

Chapter 68, 5

Never to do another what you do not want done to yourself (Tob 4:16).”

Chapter 70, 7

“No one is to pursue what he judges better for himself, but instead, what he judges better for someone else.”

Chapter 72, 7

“Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ, and may he bring us all together to everlasting life.”

Chapter 72, 11-12

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments is not the truest of guides for human life?”

Chapter 73, 3

“What book of the holy catholic Fathers does not resoundingly summon us along the true way to reach the Creator?”

Chapter 73, 4

 

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