By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Stop and Ponder

We hear it again and again as Catholics and as Christians: "Take more time to pray," "It is essential to pray daily," etc. Today's Mass reading from the book of Psalms gives us a practical insight into this necessity:

I remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I remember your wonders of old.
And I meditate on your works;
your exploits I ponder.

Source link (from Psalm 77).

In the accompanying Mass reading from Deuteronomy 4:32-40 (see same source link above), Moses urges the people to "fix" in their hearts all the marvelous deeds that Adonai has done to bring them out of the house of bondage in Egypt.

Why recall and ponder these deeds, wonders, works, and signs? Because they get us ready for today and tomorrow. Each day we decide several questions: Whom should I follow? What should I follow? Who is worth following? Who or what is the sure guide to reality that will lead me to safety, happiness, and fulfillment?

Only by pondering the credentials, the track record, of Adonai can we remain determined to live out his will today and tomorrow. The pondering prepares us to choose again and again to follow Him, instead of our own flawed schemes or the flawed schemes, expectations, and manipulations of others. (Notice also the Gospel reading for today stating that he who seeks to save his life will lose it--yes, by seeking to "save" our lives with our own flawed schemes, we will surely lose it; see source link above.) That pondering of the mighty deeds of Adonai is prayer, prayer which naturally issues in awe, wonder, praise, and thanksgiving as the fruits of that pondering of his kind deeds for us.

And ponder not just the deeds recorded in the Bible--also and especially ponder what He has just done for you, whether in the last hour or yesterday or in the past month or year. Too often, we miss the signals for the future in our discernment by failing to stop and examine our days. That is why the daily examen is a part of the Catholic spiritual tradition. Stop the noise, stop the business, and listen, especially before the Blessed Sacrament when possible, to find out what you must do next. Doing for the sake of doing is useless and often self-destructive unless it is the doing we must do. Only by taking the time to ponder the signs and deeds of Adonai in each of our lives can we find out what we must do next. Otherwise, we will not even know our own lives as they quickly pass, like water, through our fingers (credit to St. Josemaría Escrivá).