Written by Michael Fones
Tuesday, 16 January 2007 15:21
One of the fundamental human freedoms we have is the ability to put our minds where we want.
Every student who has daydreamed through a tedious class knows this.
Into the space made by fasting, silence and solitude we can introduce a fourth spiritual discipline, the memorization of Scripture.
St. Dominic, the founder of the Order to which I belong, was known to have carried the Gospel of Matthew and the Epistles of St. Paul with him where ever he went, and so well had he studied them, he had memorized nearly every passage.
We don't have to memorize huge swaths of chapters (though it wouldn't hurt), but what's to prevent us from memorizing simple phrases and sentences that we can keep before our mind each day?
Joshua 1:8 says that we should "meditate on the law of the Lord day and night, so that we may act in accordance with all that is written in it."
If fasting opens a space in our life for another's will to be done, then memorizing Scripture will make that Other's will more concrete.
It would seem that memorizing some passages of scripture is important, because whatever we study forms our mind, and our mind, in turn forms our life.
I'm a big college sports fan, and I have to be careful not to go overboard.
I know that's happening when I begin memorizing statistics of my favorite team (Go Ducks!).
What information do you seek out regularly? Statistics from the stock market? The latest celebrity gossip in People? How do the facts and soundbites you immerse yourself in shape you?
Our soul is re-formed as we meditate and chew over even a sentence of God's word during our day.
That meditation can become a dialogue between us and God throughout the day, and just as we grow in love as we grow in knowledge of someone, we grow in love of God as we submerge ourself in His word.
Just as we long to hear the voice of someone we love, we can begin to long to hear the voice of God in scripture.
As our projects mount, as our labors and tasks surround us, as our entertainment and doodling while away the time, we may forget the upshot of our lives.
It is to love and evoke love, no matter where we may be, from classroom to the workplace, the kitchen table, the nursing home.
It is to receive with an open heart the gift of Christ's once-and-for-all redemptive act.
Moreover, it is to refocus our lives so that Christ is at the center – for we cannot love as we are commanded by Christ without Christ's help.
If heaven is seeing God face-to-face and abiding in his presence eternally, shouldn't we seek him in this life?
If we have little or no interest in God on a daily basis, what makes us think that we're fit for heaven?
Do we think heaven is simply a reward for being good?
Could any of us ever be good enough to earn eternal happiness?
We do not earn salvation.
It's not a reward for being good, nor is it a reward for not being too bad.
The saints are those who long to see God in this life, who are channels of God's love for others, who lay down their life in acts of service to others, who make God an integral part of their daily experience.
They are consecrated; set apart by God's grace and their own free will to do what he asks of them.
When the saint dies, heaven is the fulfillment of what they lived on earth.
So what are your future plans?
What do they include?
Is heaven in your future?
It's not automatic, you know.
If we don't want to spend time with God in our lifetime, in prayer, reflection, reading of scripture, reaching out to him in the distressing disguise of the people around us, what makes us think we want to spend eternity with him?