Pope Francis stressed the importance of meditation for Christians who seek meaning in life during his weekly general audience.
“For a Christian to ‘meditate’ is to seek meaning,” said the pope April 28. “It implies placing oneself before the immense page of Revelation to try to make it our own, assuming it completely.”
He said that a Christian, “after having welcomed the Word of God, does not keep it closed up within him or herself.”
He said meditation “is not a withdrawal into ourselves,” adding that “it means going to Jesus, and from Jesus, discovering ourselves, healed, risen, strong by the grace of Jesus.”
Pope Francis noted that meditation has received a great deal of attention in recent years.
“It is not only Christians who talk about it: the practice of meditation exists in almost all the world’s religions,” he said.
The pontiff said that it is even a widespread activity among people who do not have a religious view of life.
He said that “in the voracious western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere.”
“We all need to meditate, to reflect, to discover ourselves, it is a human dynamic,” he said.
The pope’s message this week is part of the cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May last year and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.
This week, he distinguished the uniqueness of Christian meditation as a form of prayer.
“Meditating is a necessary human dimension, but meditating in the Christian context … goes further,” he said.
“For the Christian, meditation enters through the door of Jesus Christ. The practice of meditation also follows this path,” he said.
“And the Christian, when he or she prays, does not aspire to full self-transparency, does not seek the deepest center of the ego. This is legitimate, but the Christian seeks something else,” added Pope Francis.
He said the prayer of the Christian is “an encounter with the other …. meditating means going — guided by a phrase from the Scripture, from a word — to the encounter with Jesus within us.”
He then enumerated several methods of Christian meditation, including the “intellectual dimension” and the “affective and emotional dimension.”
“All of them are important and all of them are worthy of practice, inasmuch as they can help,” he said.
Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope said: “There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters …. But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.’”
“Christian meditation is not possible without the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us to the encounter with Jesus,” added the pope.
Pope Francis called on Catholics not to become overly attached to any one form of meditative prayer, saying that “the method is a road, not a goal.”
“The methods of meditation are paths to travel to arrive at the encounter with Jesus, but if you stop on the road, and just look at the path, you will never find Jesus,” he said.
“You will make a ‘god’ out of the path. The ‘god’ is not waiting for you there, it is Jesus who awaits you. And the path is there to take you to Jesus.”