meditation; methodical mental prayer

(Latin: meditari, to ponder)

The application of the mind and will to some spiritual principle, mystery, or event, for the purpose of sanctifying one's soul by exciting proper spiritual emotions and resolving on a course of action. It has always been practised by devout persons and encouraged among priests and in religious orders, but definite methods were not devised until the 16th century. The "Spiritual Exercises" of Saint Ignatius set forth such a method. This calls for remote preparation of the subject matter, and for preludes which help to fix the mind and imagination and petition for an appropriate grace. In the meditation proper the memory, understanding, and will are applied to each of the points into which the subject matter as been divided. Colloquies, i.e., exchanges of thought and sentiment, with God or the saints, are made especially at the end of the meditation, which closes with a formal prayer such as the Our Father. The Sulpician method is somewhat similar me begins with acts of self-humiliation and of adoration of God and petitions to the Holy Spirit or aid. The prayer proper consists of considerations and emotions or affections that result from them. The subject matter is always considered in its exemplification in Our Lord and in its practical importance to oneself. Simplicity is much encouraged. At the end, one is advised to cull a "spiritual nosegay" appropriate to the subject of the meditation, with which to refresh the memory of it from time to time.

New Catholic Dictionary

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