Translated by Fray Hubert Dunstan, OAR
A. INVOCATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
WE INVOKE THE HOLY SPIRIT USING THE WORDS OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Come, Holy Spirit, by whom every devout soul, who believes in Christ, is sanctified to become a citizen of the City of God! (en. Ps. 45:8) Come, Holy Spirit, grant that we receive the motions of God; put in us your flame; enlighten us and raise us up to God (s. 128, 4). Amen.
WITH THE HEART WELL DISPOSED, WITH SERENITY, READ SLOWLY THE FOLLOWING WORDS, SAVORING THEM AND ALLOWING YOURSELF TO BE TOUCHED BY THEM.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Whoever receives you receives me and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – Amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his rewards.”
LET US MEDITATE NOW WITH THE COMMENTARY OF ST. AUGUSTINE ON THESE WORDS OF THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. MATTHEW.
What a Gospel trumpet! The words of the Lord: Whoever loves his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, fired the martyrs with yearning for battle. And they conquered because they did not presume of themselves but of the Lord. Whoever loves his life will lose it. This saying can be understood in two ways: if you love it you lose it; in another way: do not love it so as not to lose it. The first way of understanding it says: ‘If you love it, lose it’; therefore, if you love your soul, if you love it, lose it. Sow it here, and you will harvest it in heaven; if a farmer does not lose the grain upon sowing it, he will not love it at harvest time. The other way means this: Do not love it so as not to lose it. Those who fear to die give the impression of loving their souls. If the martyrs had loved their souls in this way, without doubt they would have lost them. Of what advantage is it to possess your soul in this life and lose it for the future? What for would it serve if I have my soul in this life and lose it in heaven? Of what use is it to possess it only for a period of time? What you hold will be gone; if you lose it, you find it in yourself. See that the martyrs possessed their souls; but how would they be martyrs if they always kept it? But look, in case they had kept it, would they have lived until now? If they had denied Christ, would they have kept their souls in this life? Would they not have died, lost this life and certainly lost their souls?
But because they did not deny Christ, they passed from this life to the Father. They sought Christ proclaiming him and persevering in it they died. Therefore, losing their souls was a great gain: they lost the hay, and merited a crown; they merited –I repeat- the crown, and obtained life without end. Furthermore, it becomes a reality, or better still, it was realized in them what the Lord added: Whoever loses his life for my sake, will find it. He says: Whoever loses it for my sake. Here is the whole point: Whoever loses it not just in any way, nor for whatever motive, but for my sake. In prophecy he had already told the martyrs: Because of you we are led to death every day. Thus the martyr does not undergo the suffering, but fulfills the cause (s. 331, 1-2).
WITH THE TEXT, LET US NOW PRAY FROM THE DEPTHS OF OUR HEART. I SUGGEST THE FOLLOWING PHRASES AND QUESTIONS THAT CAN AWAKEN IN YOU DIALOGUE WITH GOD, AND AT THE SAME TIME CAN GIVE RISE TO AFFECTIONS AND SENTIMENTS IN YOUR DIALOGUE WITH GOD. DO NOT MOVE TO THE NEXT PHRASE OR QUESTION IF YOU CAN STILL CONTINUE DIALOGUING WITH GOD IN ONE OF THEM. IT IS NOT A MATTER OF EXHAUSTING THE LIST, BUT OF HELPING YOU TO PRAY WITH SOME POINTS THAT BETTER FIT YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
a. “He who does not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me” (Mt. 10:38).
•For you what does it mean to take up your cross and follow after Christ?
•What realities impede you from taking up your cross and follow after Christ?
b. “He who finds life will lose it, he who loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt. 10:39).
•How can you lose your life for Christ? •For you, what does “to find life” mean?
c. Pray with this phrase: “Take up your cross and follow me.”
I PROPOSE TO YOU SOME POINTS FOR AFFECTIVE INTERIOR CONTEMPLATION. ONCE AGAIN, YOU NEED NOT FOLLOW ALL OF IT, RATHER YOU CAN CHOOSE WHAT FITS YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.
a. Contemplate how Christ approaches you and says: “Follow me.” Look at his eyes, the manner he says it, and your answer to him.
b. Contemplate how Jesus tells you: “If you wish to save your life you will lose it, but if you lose it for me and for the Gospel, you will save it.” Verify your feelings and the answer you give to Christ. Let the words of Christ enter your heart and let them bring you peace and serenity.
THINK OF EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN SHARE WITH THOSE AROUND YOU ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE YOU HAD WITH GOD, ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST AND THE UNIVERSAL JUDGMENT. THE FOLLOWING POINTS CAN HELP YOU AS GUIDE TO SHARE WITH YOUR COMMUNITY THE EXPERIENCE OF THE LECTIO DIVINA ON THIS TEXT.
- What have I discovered about God and about myself in this moment of prayer?
- How can I apply this text of Scripture at this moment of my life? What light does it give me? What challenges does it put before me?
- What concrete commitment does this text of Scripture ask of me in my spiritual life, in my community life • What has been my predominant sentiment during this moment of prayer?
G. FINAL PRAYER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
Turning towards the Lord: Lord God, Father Almighty, with a pure heart, as far as our littleness permits, allow us to give you our most devoted and sincere thanks, begging with all our strength from your particular goodness, that by your power you may drive away the enemy from all our thoughts and actions; that you may increase our faith, govern our mind, give us spiritual thoughts, and bring us to your happiness, through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, who with you lives and reigns, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen (en, Ps. 150:8).
“No one can cross the sea of this world if he does not carry the cross of Christ. Many, including those defective of eyesight, embrace the cross. He who does not see the dis- tance of the finish line, does not put down the cross; the cross will carry him” (Io. eu. tr. 2, 2).