You would think being part of a team to bring a very special Lenten retreat to our Church, I would be all over it when it comes to reading the two books I specifically picked out for this year’s Easter season.
I just spent the past morning catching up on more than a week’s worth of reading on the Psalms and Christian meditation. Unfortunately, the seven days of actual meditation I missed cannot be “made up.” Those meditation periods are now lost in the cosmic void somewhere.
Meditation is not a new practice to me. It is one I have repeatedly tried to make habit, from my mid-1970’s California days going forward.
Of course, back then, though I was nominally Christian, like meditation it was a way of life I fell in and out of habit of practicing. But since meditation is a recurrent topic in my life and I consider myself a contemplative soul, I was delighted to find a book on the Catholic practice of it at our local monastery.
The author of the book -a British monk-suggests the use of the word “maranatha” as a mantra. This word was an Aramaic expression that means “Come, Lord.
When I first tried it, I had difficulty because the way he suggests silently focusing on it -ma ra na tha -includes a syllable close in sound to the “harmonic” mantra I was given when a friend (again in California days) took me to a meditation group where I was “assigned” this sound.
So, I continued to read the daily Lenten passages, but gave up on the word “maranatha” and went back to this harmonic sound that I knew would reliably take me to this deep meditative state.
Then came our Marian retreat and my vow to take on a certain type of spirituality that focuses on Marian consecration and Divine Mercy in a more apostolic way of living.
So, from the mission handbook, today I tried a meditative breathing technique that focuses on three words: ecce, fiat and Magnificat
“Ecce” means “Behold (Lord, here I am in my weakness, littleness, brokenness and sin.) It is said at the point of the lungs being empty.
On inhalation comes “fiat” meaning “let it be done to me” (according to thy will). Exhalation is “magnificat” – “my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
I got a nice breath rhythm going and was pretty focused on the words and going to a deep place in my meditative state until I a stray thought entered my head. “What happened to Sister Luke when she walked out of the convent and back into the world.
The night before I had watched “The Nun’s Story” starring Audrey Hepburn. It is the story of a Belgian young woman who enters religious life shortly before World War II because of her desire to go to the Congo as a nurse it is a desire that is constantly being thwarted in different ways as her superiors detect in her -and she convicts herself-an inability to completely surrender in obedience to God.
I won’t go into the details of how she is constantly tested in this manner. As I said, in the end she decides she is incapable of this surrender of her worldly compassion and concern to surrender to the bells that represented God’s voice to enter into communion with him at the appointed times.
i couldn’t go on meditating. Sister Luke was too much suddenly in my head again as I, too, am trying to discern a will for my life. What happened to her when she walked out that door?
Two possibilities could be hinted at: that she went back to the Congo and nurse beside the doctor who had fallen in love with her, or that, upon learning of her father’s death in an air raid and her brother’s enlistment to fight the Nazis, she joined the resistance as a nurse based on a contact someone had given her.
I know I can order to book on which the movie is based and Google her to find the answer to where God called Sister Luke.
How I wish it were all that easy to find my own answer