“Read these counsels slowly. Pause and meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won’t tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.”
-Prologue of “The Way”, St. Josemaria Escriva
In spiritual reading, I am not usually drawn to shorter devotionals, or lists of axioms.
And I confess, even though I absolutely love St. Josemaria Escriva’s spirituality, I don’t think I’ve read his classic work, The Way, completely. Why? I guess I like things fleshed out for me. Maybe it is because I also doubt my own ability to extract the hidden treasure found in these truths. Whatever the reason, I don’t approach them near as often as I should, though this pocket sized book is full of spiritual gold.
I love to read, and I’m a believer in reading introductions and prologues of any text I pick up. They’re there for a reason. In The Way the key to unlocking the wisdom of St. Josemaria Escriva is right there in the prologue. He instructs us to slow down, take our time with it, and trust that we’re not reading it in isolation.
“Pause and meditate on these thoughts.”
Even though he teaches us that we can sanctify all the moments and work of our day, St. Josemaria Escriva would be the first to admit that our spiritual life demands our undivided attention at times. We need to set aside time to be fully present to what God wants to show us. Sometimes I read a pithy statement, recognize it as true and good, and then move on without allowing the fruit of God’s message within it to take root in my heart. It can be easy to overlook the deeper message in such simple, straightforward phrases.
When we do take the time to meditate, with these writings or with scripture, we have to be mindful that we are not the primary ones at work, we’re not just reading words but taking part in a conversation. After all, you can only gain wisdom by being in relationship with the source of Wisdom.
“I won’t tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you.”
Besides the reminder to really pray with these sayings, there is a second point that strikes me in the prologue; St. Josemaria Escriva’s admission that he does not intend to tell us anything new but only stir our memory. More and more I’ve come to understand this is one way I recognize God’s voice most clearly.
Simply put, I’ve forgotten much of the spiritual wisdom that I’ve gleaned over the years from books, articles, and lectures, even though it is beautiful, true, and good. Yet, as I continue reading and listening, things jump out at me providing these mini ‘Ah Ha!’ moments. Most often it is a reminder of what I have heard before: a familiar truth of the faith heard in a particularly new and profound way. It may come with new emphasis, or a different voice, but ultimately it carries the same truth. And I hear God whisper, “remember this!” Just when I need to hear it the most.