by Solana Oliver
Every day can be a struggle in our crazy world. Every day, we are bombarded with information from classes, from co-workers, from friends and family, and from our electronic devices. With everything being so instant, it can feel impossible to make the world slow down. It can be easy to begin to go through the motions in our personal lives.
In this business, where, as Catholics, do we take the time to be with God, though?
Our relationship with God is any other relationship. Much like our friendships and romantic relationships, we have to take time to sit and be with God and actively cultivate that relationship. Yes, He is everywhere and is within everyone, but recognizing that isn’t enough. You can’t just treat God like that one person in your class that you see every day and know their name but nothing more. Nor can we view God as a vengeful force that goes around smiting people, or as a vending machine for personal favors. We must take time every day to foster our relationship with I AM, the one who knows us before we knew ourselves.
There are so many easy ways to take time out of the day to let God hold us. It can be as easy as sitting and listening to your favorite Jesus Jams, journaling, praying a quick decade of the Rosary, or just taking time to meditate. What is important is taking time to sit and quiet not only our minds but our hearts, so that we can hear the Word of God. The beauty of meditation and journaling is that you quiet your brain, removing extra noise from it, to focus on the things that truly matter in your life. This beautiful silence allows us to hear the words of God coming to us and truly taking hold of our lives.
For centuries, Christians have cultivated this beautiful silence through an exercise that entails meditation, journaling, adoration, and Scripture: Lectio Divina. It is a form of prayer developed by Carthusian monks in the 12th century that is centered on hearing the Word of God in many ways. Lectio Divina hopes to allow every person to hear God’s voice through scripture.
There are four stages of Lectio Divina: Lectio, Meditatio, Oratio, and Contemplatio.
Lectio translates to “reading.” In this stage of praying, you are meant to read the Word of God slowly and reflectively to allow the words to sink in and be understood by your brain.
Meditatio is our moment to sit with the Word of God and let it sink in so our hearts can understand it.
Oratio is meant to be our turn to speak to God from the depths of our hearts. We offer up prayers, insecurities, thanksgiving or random ruminations to God.
Comtemplatio is the fourth and final step of Lectio Divina. During it, we let go of any preconceived notions of what our lives are meant to be and what we need to do next, to let God’s voice radiate in our hearts. We are meant to just sit and be present to the Word of God and remember that God has a plan for us.
There are also other simpler, less formulaic ways of building a relationship with God. As Catholics and Christians, we believe that God made each and every one of us in His image. We are all children of God and a part of God sits within us. A great way of slowing things down around us is to take time to be with others. The communities we are a part of are the families that we build. As siblings of God, we have a responsibility to not only take care of one another’s earthly needs but also the needs of the soul. Something so simple that can help us build a relationship with God is building a relationship with one another.
I always refer back to Matthew 18:20 when I think about this truth: “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we are together, building community, God is with us. Taking the time to slow the world down and silence the extra noise allows us to understand ourselves, begin to let go of our plans, and allow God to take hold of our lives.