Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Meditation and Prayer

Meditation has been attracting a great deal of attention in the press over the last decade or so as a method of promoting physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.  Meditation has even been found to activate the body’s own stem cells to physically regenerate our systems.  Doris Taylor has done research that begins to shed some scientific light on this fascinating topic. 

The Eastern methods of mediation through yoga and Buddhist Dharma meditations have been gaining popularity as people use them to gain peace and tranquility in life.  People who meditate daily find a myriad of positive benefits in their lives.  While most of the current research and focus is on the benefits of Eastern meditation, the practice of daily prayer and meditation has been alive and vibrant in the West for thousands of years.

The oratories of ancient Ireland and France hold a deep fascination for me.  The closeness to nature, and the vivid images of generation after generation of peaceful, holy people engaging in community life and meditation appeal to the soul.
                                                     Gallurus Oratory on the Dingle Peninsula

Western style meditation is more theme-based than its Eastern counterpart and I think there is a deep understanding of human nature in this small difference.  I find meditation much more focused, renewing, and invigorating when I use the Rosary for daily meditation.  It takes about fifteen minutes, which I find is the perfect amount of time to take from my day and devote to meditative prayer. 
                                                        Rosary Painting with Mystery Insets

The word Rosary means "Crown of Roses,” and the meditation itself is almost unique in being traditionally connected with and under the auspices of a woman, the Virgin Mary.  Throughout its history, the Rosary has been banned in many parts of the world for political reasons, and to try to stamp out devotion to the Virgin Mary - which was seen as inappropriate elevation of a woman.  Nevertheless, the Rosary has survived and flourished as a beautiful meditation. 

How to Pray the Rosary:
                                                               Anatomy of Rosary Beads

1) While holding the cross of the Rosary beads, make the sign of the cross and recite the Apostle’s Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the Holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. AMEN.
2) On the first large bead of the Rosary recite the Our Father:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  AMEN.    
3) On each of the three small beads, recite the Hail Mary for an increase of faith, hope, and love in your daily life.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  AMEN.   
4) Recite the Glory Be:
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.  As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end.  AMEN.
5) Meditate on the first Mystery of the Rosary and recite the Our Father on the next large bead, followed by the Hail Mary on each of the following ten smaller beads, and finish the decade with a Glory Be.  (This is a decade of the Rosary). 
6) Repeat step 5 four more times to complete the Rosary.
7) When you have completed the fifth meditation set, conclude with the Hail Holy Queen:
Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, out life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve, to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn, then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us.  And after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Oh clement, Oh loving, Oh sweet Virgin Mary, pray for us, Oh holy mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.      
The following are the Mysteries of the Rosary; these are sets of five meditational themes to focus on while praying the Rosary. 
The First Joyful Mystery - The Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary
The Second Joyful Mystery - The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin to her Cousin
The Third Joyful Mystery – The Birth of Christ
The Fourth Joyful Mystery – The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple
The Fifth Joyful Mystery – The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

The First Sorrowful Mystery – The Agony in the Garden
The Second Sorrowful Mystery – The Scourging at the Pillar
The Third Sorrowful Mystery - The Crowning With Thorns
The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery - The Carrying of the Cross
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery - The Crucifixion

The First Glorious Mystery - The Resurrection of the Crucified Christ
The Second Glorious Mystery - The Ascension of the Risen Christ into Heaven
The Third Glorious Mystery - The Descent Of The Holy Spirit
The Fourth Glorious Mystery - The Assumption of Mary Bodily into Heaven.
The Fifth Glorious Mystery – The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth

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