But Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19
"Think. Think and wonder. Wonder and think."
These are words from one of my favorite Dr. Seuss Books titled, "Oh, the Things You Can Think."
Very recently, we celebrated Dr. Seuss' 113th birthday with "Read Across America"- a program that is designed to encourage children's literacy. At the same time, Pope Francis has called for us to consult the great book, the Bible, as often as we consult our cell phones. There is a common theme. We are being encouraged by both "Read Across America" and by Pope Francis to incorporate daily reading and meditation into our lives that are exceptionally overrun with digital devices or other modern-day distractions.
The digital life certainly has its place in our world. Our children need to know how to use it- safely, properly and effectively- in order to make scientific, etc advances in today's world for the good of the whole. However, it cannot replace personal, human conversations and relationships. There must always be a balance, for our children and for adults, that includes time with friends, physical exercise, academic rigor, and most importantly, time with God. Both "Read Across America" and Pope Francis are calling for this balance.
Pope Francis is especially calling for us to balance life with making room for spiritual growth with Christ. When we consult Scripture, we open our hearts to Christ. By opening our hearts to Christ, we begin to deepen our prayer relationship with Him. When we deepen our prayer relationship with Him, He will begin to grant us many fruits of prayer. Matthew 7:7 tells us, "Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock on the door and it will be open to you." This is why our Holy Father encourages us to consult the Bible as much as our cell phones. Think of how many times a day you consult your cell phone- and then, think of how much depth and understanding you would obtain from Sacred Scripture if you spent the same amount of time consulting the Bible as you do your cell phone.
Pope Francis is the shepherd for the Church's flock. We are his sheep. It is the job of the Pope to guide us along the straight and narrow path. As our Holy Father, he wants only the best for us. Therefore, he wants us to be able to obtain the fruits, or the gifts, of prayer and meditation on Sacred Scripture.
One of my favorite verses in the Bible, (granted I have many favorites) is Luke 2:19. "But Mary treasured these things and pondered them in her heart." When Mary was visited by the shepherds shortly after Jesus' birth, they relayed to her all that the archangel Gabriel had told them about the man that Jesus would become. Mary treasured, or stored, these words in her heart and pondered them. She would have over 30 years to ponder these words relayed to her from the shepherds, as well as all that she would learn from her Son throughout His short, but powerful, world changing life.
Pondering, or contemplation, of Sacred Scripture found within the Bible is vital to maintaining a deep prayer relationship with the One True God. The Carmelite Order is known for its deep contemplation within its prayer life, thus resulting in a direct relationship with Jesus Christ. A Carmelite-like devotion is a way to experience Jesus through walking the path that He laid before us in the Bible. Each time we read and meditate on the Bible, new mysteries are revealed to us through the work of the Holy Spirit.
When we have a friendship with Jesus, we are set free. We know that Jesus will always love us as our Father. When we love Him in return and give ourselves completely to Him, we can trust that He will take care of our every need. There is freedom and peace in the verse found in Matthew 6:26; "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" This Bible verse provides us with the reassurance that we will always be provided for in God's Holy and perfect way...and timing. We must be patient; God's timing is not our timing. If we ask for what we need in accordance with God's will, we can be assured that our Heavenly Father will provide for us, His children. But remember, even as we ask for things, "Your Heavenly Father knows what you need, even before you ask it." (Matthew 6:8) This makes sense, God is omnipotent after all!
I challenge you in these early days of Lent to spend time each day by reading and contemplating the Sacred Scripture found within the good book, the Bible. We can trust Pope Francis to lead us in obtaining a deep, personal relationship with Christ through the Bible and prayer. Think of how much peace we could obtain by spending as much time consulting the Bible as we consult our cell phones!