Electronic Prayer Book

See, Judge, Act

 
Introduction
 

This web site goes to some length to demonstrate that meditation has been an integral part of Christianity since the foundation of the Church. You will see that we often call meditation by its ancient name of “Lectio Divina” or Spiritual Reading. We use the Latin term simply because that was the predominant language of the world out into which the Apostles were sent.

For the younger person or anyone new to meditation we offer the following introduction from “The Gospel Story” by Ronald Cox, (C.Y.M. Publications 1950) with modifications to accommodate wider use on the Internet.

 
From Ronald Cox’s Preamble
 

You cannot live like a Christian, if you think like pagan; you cannot think like a Christian, until you think like Christ. Or, if you prefer St. Paul’s way of saying it, ‘Yours is to be the same mind which Christ Jesus showed’ (Phil. 2: 5). The best way to acquire our Lord’s outlook and ideals is by daily, intimate association with him; instead of a mere name, he must become a real, living Person. That is why the Gospels are so important to right living: ‘It is there his image stands out, living and breathing.’

 
See, Judge, Act.
 

It is not enough to read about our Lord; we must live his life. He is the Head; we are the members of his Mystical Body, the Church. Through this Body of His, Jesus continues to live and act on this earth; without us he is incomplete; he cannot reach out into time and space. By membership in the Mystical Body we are so taken up into the Person of Christ our Lord that we must think, will, desire, and act only as he did. To do this our thoughts and motives must be in complete harmony with Christ’s; there must be’ a renewal in the inner life of our minds’ (Ephesians 4: 23). We must come to know the mind of Christ by meditating daily on his life in the Gospels.

This simple way of meditation in the Word consists of three stages.

1. Observe the Scene.

2. Examine what our Lord does, decide why he acts in this way, and what he would expect of his followers.

3. Apply his teaching in our life.

As an aid to remembering the process, you could, if it helps, call these steps: See, Judge, Act.

Let’s walk through these three steps in a little more detail.

 
(1) The Scene
 

We must try and re-create the atmosphere of the incident selected from the Gospels. Time, place, persons, all help us to visualise why and what our Lord was doing in this scene and why. This composition of place is a great help against distractions: in the early stages of meditation it will occupy a good deal of time, but only a minute or two once the Gospels have become familiar. Regardless of how advanced we think we may be, the judicious use of works of art can be enormously helpful. Sometimes we can simply sit in a church and absorb the content of a stained glass window or some other image and let it pass on its message.

 
(2) Our Lord
 

Then we closely examine our Lord’s motives in acting as he did in the scene. We should not be surprised if it takes several readings plus reflection to see “below the surface”; to get the gist of what is really occurring. The more we do this the more we recognise patterns in our Lord’s way of teaching and dealing with dullness, bigotry or antagonism.

Once we have become proficient in this art we can choose our meditation themes. It is important to concentrate our attention on our Lord , not on the other people in the scene. It is our Lord we must imitate; your way of living must be the same as his. Note: If the Gospel reading chosen does not directly focus on our Lord (eg. the sections about St. John the Baptist ) examine how the chief character reflects His values).

 
(3) Ourselves
 

We must apply this lesson learnt from our Lord to our own lives. How can we live his life in the circumstances in which we find ourselves today? This stage of meditation demands a good deal of self-examination. We must look into our past, and plan for the future: but most of all we must make practical resolutions for today. We should not only think things out, we should also pray to our Lord for light and guidance to help us live his life in these present conditions.

Whatever approach we adopt, we should keep on picturing the same one scene at least for a whole day; in this way our words and actions are more likely to reflect the teaching and conduct of Jesus Christ our Head. Many people stay with a Sunday Gospel all week, returning to it as they are able.

Once we have become familiar with the sequence of our Lord’s life, we can choose our own particular scene to suit our needs or our mood of the moment; we can, for example, choose from a list of favourite readings. Or we may prefer to base our choice on the Gospel reading from the previous or next Sunday’s Liturgy or worship.

 
Conclusion
 

Whatever the particular Christian tradition we belong to, we will find it quite natural to “round off” the above simple way with favourite prayers, or a litany, the Rosary, or some other devotional material or custom. This is a good practice, so long as the whole process retains its essential simplicity.