Pope Francis at his general audience address in the library of the Apostolic Palace March 17, 2021 / Vatican Media
At the General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on prayer, reflecting this week on the concept of meditation.
Although meditation is practiced by adherents of almost all religions, and even by non-believers, the Pope focused on the “specificity” of meditation in a Christian context, which he insisted “must not be eliminated.” Like all Christian prayer, he said, “Jesus is the great door” of meditation in a Christian context.
For the Christian, he explained, meditation is not simply a means to acquire self-awareness or self-mastery. Christians, instead, see meditation as an encounter with the Jesus Christ. “For a Christian, to meditate is to seek meaning,” he said. “It signifies placing oneself before the immense page of Revelation to try to make it our own, assuming it completely… This is what we try to do every time we meditate on the Word.”
Pope Francis acknowledged that there are many different ways to meditate, but insisted that different methods are “a path, not the goal.” “All are important, and worthy of being practiced, insofar as they can help the experience of the faith to become a total act of the person.”
Quoting a passage from the Catechism that recommends lectio divina and the Rosary, the Pope said, “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ… Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ.”
The Pope went on to say that every aspect of Christ’s divinity and humanity, and every moment of his life on earth, “through the grace of prayer, can become present to us,” with the help of the Holy Spirit. “It is the Holy Spirit that connects us with these mysteries of the life of Christ so that in the contemplation of Jesus we might have the experience of prayer through uniting ourselves more closely to Him.”
For Christians, he said, meditation “is a way of encountering Jesus.” And it is only through encountering Jesus, “the Saviour of all, even of me” that we are able to discover and know ourselves.