YOU ARE WHAT YOU READ!
“You are what you eat’? This phrase has come to us via quite a tortuous route. Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante, 1826: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/you-are-what-you-eat.html
In conducting my Lectio Divina, I would like to think that I am what I read. Here are some of my Lectio Divina reflections, based on Phil 2:5.
- From the fullness of the heart, the mouth speaks, says the Scriptures. (Matthew 12:34) If that is so, what I put in my mind enters my heart and comes out via how I behave and what I say.
- Lectio Divina uses, as its focus, a reading from Scripture. Why? Scripture possesses words that are about God and how we should behave as disciples. We don’t always do what Scripture says, so there is constant need for penance and reparation for our sins of omission and commission. In short, those who seek God must be penitential. You will know they are penitential by what someone says and how they describe reality.
- If I focus only on God with all my heart, my strength and my soul, and love my neighbor as myself, I fulfill the purpose of life. Of course, I don’t do that 100%, being unable to sustain the focus on God without temptations from the Evil One to be God myself.
- If I read Lee Child novels about Jack Reacher, I find them fascinating fiction but they do not nourish my spirit and give me the energy to live as a pilgrim in a foreign land. What I read make my mind focus on what the author intended, to weave a story of intrigue and imagination with a plot that has a hero, dangers, overcoming those dangers, and eventual resolution (although not always a happy one). Scriptural readings produce what they signify. If you read about Peace, it changes your heart. Fiction does not do that, at least it hasn’t for me.
- When I do Lectio Divina, I want to become what I read. I am not there yet, but I want to be. I can’t sustain being good in a world of Original Sin. I must have Christ to make all things new each day. Each day is like the beginning and end of the universe, because it is the universe in which I live.
- The more I move from self to God, the closer I come to achieving the purpose of life …to know, love, and serve God in this life and be happy with that God in the next. (Baltimore Catechism, Question 6) Reading the right materials is critical for placing me in a position to contemplate along side of the heart of Christ.
- Reading novels and other books on science, medicine, history, literature all make the mind happy. Reading Scriptures and doing Lectio Divina not only make the mind happy but also the heart.
- The mind seeks what is true. The heart seeks what is meaningful about what is true. Contemplation is sitting on a park bench on a cold day and waiting for God to show up. If He does, your heart is warmed by the heart of Christ, the mind of the Father, and overshadowed by the blanket of the Holy Spirit. You are home. You are safe. You are. From the fulness of the heart, the mouth speaks. Remember Matthew 12:4 in the previous statement? Christ also said it is not what goes into our mouths that is evil but what comes out from the heart. What influences the heart is what you read. Contemplation, not just reading a good book, means I seek to sit next to another person (Jesus) and listen for his heart beating, then try to be one with Him. In the silence and solitude of that snowy day, sitting alone on a park bench, I find rest for my soul and energy to make all things new. I sit on that park bench when I attend the Eucharist in the company of other believers, I sit on that park bench when I receive others as Christ (Rule of St. Benedict). I sit on that park bench when I read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict daily. I sit on that park bench when I do Lectio Divina and Liturgy of the Hours.
- On a personal note: I do not look at National television news of politics or analysis of political parties of any type. There is too much hatred there, too much detraction, calumny, deceit, falsehoods, and just plain painful vendettas on either side of the political spectrum. I am watching ESPS and FX1 sports and history channels, Antique Archeology, The Last Alaskans, instead of politics. If you are what you read, then you must also be affected by what you see on television. I find that I am more at peace and happier than before, when I just cringed at reports about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Bless them both.
Praise be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now and Forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian Doxology