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Practicing Contemplative Prayer

First Reading: Philippians 2:1-4

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 131:1BCDE, 2, 3

R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Gospel: Luke 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
“When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

NAB

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Do you ever feel daunted by Scripture? I find myself thinking, “I don’t have the time or mental energy to ‘go deep’ into this.” In college, it was because I had so many classes to keep up with. In my working years, I had millions of English papers to grade. Newlywed? It was much more fun playing wife to my husband. And as a mother? Forget about it.

Then I discovered Saint Teresa of Avila (whose feast day was earlier this month—October 15) and her method of Contemplative Prayer. It was just what my tired and busy mind needed to feel connected to the Living Word again.

I am by no means perfect or consistent with this method of prayer, but it is so comforting to know that I can call on Contemplative Prayer when I am feeling weary.

Let’s do it together today.

First, put your mind with God. This might be as simple as taking a deep breath and asking God to quiet your mind. Ask to be with Him completely—even for just a few minutes.

Second, read the Scriptures for today. If you’re like me, you skim and read quickly, barely letting things soak in. That’s okay. Read as you would normally, but pay attention to any line that sticks with you. Today, this verse from the First Reading stuck with me: Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”

Third, take a few moments to reflect on what that verse means in your life right now. For my verse, I immediately thought of refugees around the world. What am I doing to help them? Am I turning my head because I feel my life is more valuable than theirs? Am I being called to pray more fervently for them? How can I look into their eyes and see them as humans who are just as valuable as myself and my family? While I contemplate this Scripture, I try to picture Jesus right beside me in the flesh (after all, He is really truly there in the Word). I imagine having a conversation with Him, asking Him questions, and listening to His answers.

Finally, I lay my petitions in front of the Lord. These might be things that have to do with the Scripture I read, and they may be my own personal intentions. I also thank the Lord for the time I was able to spend with Him today.

Take a moment to practice Contemplative Prayer today. Your experience will look different than mine, but follow the steps above as a guide.

Jenna Hines has teeny army of three children (and one in utero), and is married to a bearded fellow named Mike. A former high school English teacher, she now stays at home where she blogs and runs a crafty embroidery business. You can find out more about her here

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