Papal Invite: Be Still and Think of Good Things

Benedict XVI Teaches on Meditation in Audience Series on Prayer

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 17, 2011 ( Pointing to Mary as a teacher, Benedict XVI is recommending a time for silence and mental prayer so as «to feel how beautiful it is when God speaks with us.»

The Pope continued today with his audience series on prayer, addressing a crowd gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. After a break in the general audiences during July, he has returned to the theme of prayer with addresses on Bible reading and monastic silence.

Today he asked: what is meditation.

«It means to ‘remember’ all that God has done and not to forget all his benefits (cf. Psalm 103:2b). Often, we see only the negative things. We also need to hold in our memory the good things, the gifts that God has given us; we need to be attentive to the positive signs that come from God, and remember these,» he said.

The Holy Father acknowledged that there might be more familiarity with vocal prayer, but he explained that meditation, what «Christian tradition calls ‘mental prayer,'» does not involve words, but is «rather a making contact of our mind with the heart of God.»

In this, the Pontiff stated, «Mary is a true model.» He noted how St. Luke speaks of her as «keep[ing] all these things and ponder[ing] them in her heart.»

«In our own time,» he reflected, «we are absorbed with so many activities and commitments, concerns and problems. Often, we tend to fill up all the spaces of the day, without having a moment to stop and reflect and to nourish our spiritual life — our contact with God. Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days — with all its activities — moments to recollect ourselves in silence and to ponder all that the Lord wants to teach us, how he is present and acts in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate.»


Benedict XVI suggested that there are many ways to meditate.

This prayer is «to create within ourselves an atmosphere of recollection, of interior silence, so as to reflect upon and assimilate the mysteries of our faith, and all that God is doing in us — and not only the things that come and go,» he said.

The Pope suggested drawing from a short passage of sacred Scripture, or a page from a spiritual author, or taking advice from a confessor or spiritual director. He also recommended the rosary as meditation. Or, «we can also dwell upon some intense spiritual experience, on the words that have remained with us from our participation in the Sunday Eucharist.»

From there, he explained, it is about «reading and reflecting … pausing to consider it, seeking to understand it, to understand what it says to me, what it says today — to open our soul to all that the Lord wants to say to us and teach us.»

Making time

Benedict XVI affirmed that «consistency in giving time to God is a fundamental element for spiritual growth.»

But then, he said, «it will be the Lord himself who gives us a taste for his mysteries, his words, his presence and action, to feel how beautiful it is when God speaks with us. He will make us understand in a more profound way what he wants of us.

«In the end, this is the goal of our meditation: to entrust ourselves ever more to the hands of God, with trust and love, certain that, in the end, it is only in doing his will that we are truly happy.»

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