My former Pastor celebrated noon Mass every Friday for the schoolchildren. He was a great preacher, and his kids’ homilies were my favorite. Why? Because hearing the plain and simple truth is uniquely thrilling. It’s like a gong; an anchor point; a lightning bolt—or a giant billboard that reads, “Yesss….this is it.”
Falsehood often disguises itself in what St. Paul calls “specious arguments” that seem to be true and reasonable, but aren’t. Tragically, so many people have argued and “thought” their way out of faith. But a homily for children brings us back to the basics, which convince our minds as they convict our hearts. The basics of the faith help us see anew that we’d all be headed for hell if not for Jesus’ free gift of himself to the Father in our place. Justice and mercy have met, and mercy won. Forever.
Spending too much time in our heads can dim the message of the heart that speaks to us strongly, sometimes overwhelmingly, of love and mercy. But ignoring the thinking mind can have its drawbacks, too, like causing us to make decisions from our feelings alone. In matters of love, friendship, and faith, minds and hearts are meant to work together.
Finding the balance
A good balance of study and prayer keeps our brain sharp without causing us to lose touch with the God who is Love. And—surprise—Holy Scripture is our one-stop shop!
Lectio Divina, which is reading scripture slowly and prayerfully, gives us plenty to think about: plenty of food for our minds and imaginations. At the same time, it draws us to God in love, emptying our hearts of the world and making a space for God to enter and dwell with us—Emmanuel!
If you haven’t tried Lectio Divina (or even if you have), try reading silently or aloud the passage below from Romans—as slowly as you can, like one word each second. Then read it again. Then again. The passage will begin to “bloom” in your mind and heart. New questions arise and new insights, or sometimes just a great calm. If you feel nothing, thank God anyway for speaking to you silently—because he always speaks through his word and we are always healed by it.
Take a breath, exhale slowly, and read:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer (Romans 12:9-12).
This way of sipping the nectar from Scripture gives us what St. Paul wanted for the Colossians: “I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself (Col 2:2-3).”
When was the last time you found one exercise that strengthened your mind and your heart at the same time? Check out Stephen Binz’s lovely book below for guidance on how to experience the beauty of simple truth in Scripture and religious icons.
If you purchase, Virtue Connection may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I sat next to Mr. Binz at a Catholic discussion group a few years ago. He is a knowledgeable and prayerful Catholic man who knows what he’s writing about!
My pleasure, Bonnie. God bless!
Thanks for the reminder about Lectio Divina. I rarely pray this way but it is helpful.
I hope you are putting these wonderful Sunday messages into a book for sale!
Good news — I am writing a book that’s both a collection of the messages and a journal to help grow in one virtue a week for a month. Stay tuned!
Thank you. Now that is a book I will buy. Keep us all posted about progress!
You bet — your encouragement really makes a difference!
Thank you for this scripture passage from Romans. I just returned from spiritual direction, and reading and reflecting on this passage is a good way to deepen my experience of direction and my walk with Jesus.
So true — with lectio divina, it’s like we’re holding Jesus’ hand on that walk.
Sipping the nectar from scripture . . . Persevering in prayer. Flitting from one place to another while being steadfast. But it’s really like that isn’t it? Amidst turbulence the hummingbird can park and sip the nectar. We’re not configured to do that, but as humans we can learn to park and sip the nectar just as Paul says in Ephesians 6:18, “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the spirit.” We burn spiritual fuel and need to replenish it lest we run out.
What an apt metaphor the hummingbird is. I read that it needs to sip half its weight in sugar every day and it feeds 5 to 8 times per hour. I don’t know how much prayer half my weight is, but if I lift my soul to God every 10 minutes, it’s a connection that will keep me from dropping out of the sky. Or poking other birds in the butt with my beak (which they do at the feeder, I guess when their sugar level is down!)
Thanks for putting the ideas of study and prayer together in the suggestion to practice Lectio Divina. It is a useful daily practice that bears much fruit!
Yes, writing about it made me hungry for it. God is just waiting for us to listen for the rich gifts he wants to give us.