When beginning to practice meditation before moving to the deeper reality of contemplation, there are some dangers along the way. My latest Lectio Divina Meditation (Philippians 2:5) led me to an unlikely YouTube scene of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The scene has to do with Harry standing before a mirror being fixated on his mother and father, just sitting there, sitting there, sitting there. Here is the YouTube in question. The mirror is called The Mirror of Erised. Look at it, as I did, as a good visual of what it means to stand before this mirror and gaze at it. When we use our reason and free choice to process what comes from the Holy Spirit, we can stand before The Mirror of Erised, if we are not careful.

Everything looks perfect in the mirror. Professor Dumbledore just happens to find Harry looking at the mirror and tells him what it is about. You think you are seeing something the way it should be or how you would like it to be. Alas, looking at this mirror has a result that it does not produce knowledge or truth.

Professor Dumbledore tells Harry that the danger of looking at this “what if” mirror might be that people waste their lives looking at the wrong image. He goes on to say that the danger is seeing things that you want them to be rather than as they are. The consequences of looking at this Mirror of Erised is that you fail to see the contemplative mindset as it is in the real world of every day, and, instead, view an idyllic picture of yourself of just what you can see in the mirror. The danger of falling into the trap of contemplative practice where you are the center is like the Mirror of Erised.

The Mirror of the Christ Principle shows you who you are in relation to who Christ is. The practices we do are good works as set forth by Saint Benedict in Chapter 4 of his Rule.

These rules are there to help us see only Jesus in our personal Mirror of Erised and how we might become more like Christ and less like us. Contemplation is not about me at all. It is about how I can be present to Christ so that He increases in me and decreases. Prefer nothing to the love of Christ, St. Benedict challenges us to become. Don’t be fooled by the fixations the world has to offer. Taking up our cross each day means we must lift that cross (through, with, and in Christ Jesus) ourselves. The road to our destiny in Heaven is not idyllic or smooth and effortless. Just because you find your road is rocky doesn’t mean you are on the wrong road. Stay away from the Mirror of Erised in your contemplative practice.

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