Saturday, September 5, 2020

A Gift that May Help You Meditate on Jesus

I've shared previously that years before I crossed the Bosphorus or the Tiber into the more universal strains of the Way of Jesus, I embraced an ancient technique that aided me greatly in meditating on the most important events in His life.  As part of that technique, Icons helped a lot both with maintaining focus and being drawn into beauty. However, at the time I was an Evangelical, and I was shocked to find myself praying the Holy Rosary with the aid of icons and enjoying it!  You can see more of that story by clicking here if you are curious.

Today I'd like to share a tiny development in my practice of praying these meditations daily.  I used to have a set of 5 icons on my car dash that helped me think of the 5 key events that the Church chose for us to collectively think about for that day.  I would switch it each day to the appropriate set of meditations (there is a logical sequence of 20 total key events), however, I found that this flimsy paper contraption got lost easily and more importantly, wasn't always with me so that I'd be able to pray it whenever I wanted as time allowed.

The next thing I started doing was recording the meditations and putting them on my iPhone.  If I couldn't take time to stop everything and pray, at least I could do it on the go which is better than not praying at all I suppose.  I've given up doing things perfectly and any connection with Jesus is better than none in my experience.  

I recorded them in the sing-song E major chant that I intone most of my prayers daily.  This just flows and works so much better for me and I find myself able to focus longer singing/chanting than just saying prayers.  Doing this I could listen and pray along with my bluetooth headset, which I have on me much of the day, or play them through my car audio system.

However,... I really missed the beautiful woodcut icons that I used to look at.  I missed not only the beauty of them but the way they sustained my attention.  So what to do?

Welp!... Hmmmm... 

[NOTE:  As some of you know, I obtained permission from the Christianica Center in Chicago who published the "Scriptural Rosary" booklet to use the icons from it freely to promote the saying of these prayers among Christians.  So I've been using them for prayer cards made to help both Protestants and Catholics think of Jesus and say a prayer.]

And then something clicked... wouldn't it be easy enough to add the icons as album art for the .mp3 file?  Turns out it was quite easy and it works great!  As I'm praying the Rosary meditations, the appropriate album cover art displays on my phone screen.  I find that very helpful and engaging.

So I'm giving them to you all.  I've done the version that Catholics have been using for centuries first.  That is in my singsong chant.  I recorded the version for Evangelicals with spoken prayer because in my experience chant was quite foreign to me when I was in that fold.

Now keep in mind that you'll have to be a tiny bit savvy on your phone (or tablet or computer) to make this work.  You'll first have to know how to put music on your device and get things in the order you like (I use playlists for this).  Have your kids or grandkids help you :D

A note about my chanting in E major.  It isn't for everyone and I'm no professional.  My journey through the Byzantine fold tends to make me chant faster than many would like (at times others have referred to it as a machine gun pace... it wasn't a compliment lol).  But if you can endure a few rounds of it, perhaps it would inspire you to make a version of your own, or at least download the icons themselves and use them while you say the Rosary at your own pace in your own voice.

Click here to go to the folder that contains all the Rosary sound files that include the icons.  Each of the four sets has six recordings, the introductory prayers are in number 0, the first key event (mystery) is number 1, etc. all the way to number 5.

Click here if you prefer to just use the Rosary icons as visual aids in your photos folder on your computer, tablet or phone.

Click here if you prefer to use the Evangelical version.  Each of the four sets has six recordings, the introductory prayers are in number 0, the first key event (mystery) is number 1, etc. all the way to number 5.

In this version instead of snippets of scripture like the Hail Mary prayer, I simply say "Let's pause to think of Jesus who embraced the Father's will in the garden for our sake", for example.  

Trust me, I do understand first hand how saying the scripture from the first chapter of Luke verses 28, 42 and 43 over and over can be unnerving to those uninitiated in meditation (see my post on "Un-Vain Repetition").  In the spiritual tradition of my childhood even thinking of Mary as the Mother of God except for at Christmas time was seen as odd.  So I am accommodating you that feel like I have felt about that and inviting you to meditate on Jesus without those portions of scripture inserted each time.  I think God is pleased when we think about Him and His Son and His Holy Spirit in a good light and so is Jesus' Momma Mary, for she ALWAYS leads people to Him and says, "Do whatever He tells you".

Click here if you prefer to simply use the meditation icons I customized for Evangelicals as visual aids alone.

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