Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meditation and God's Word

I have been encouraged by a friend to write down what I have learned about how to meditate. Much of what I know about and practice with meditation is Ignatian, or a style of meditation developed and formulated by St. Ignatius of Loyola. Though I have not done too much reading about lectio divina, I think the style of meditation I describe is also very much like that, too. Exactly where what I write here, Ignatian meditation, and lectio divina overlap, I couldn't tell. But, here it is.

[Pope Benedict XVI expressed rich teaching on lectio divina in paragraphs 86-87 of his Apostolic Exhortation on the Word of the Lord, Verbum Domini.  In addition, he touched on related subjects in his Wednesday general audiences on prayer: on Free Time and Reading the Bible on August 3, 2011, and on the Prayer of Meditation on August 17, 2011.]

Meditation begins in prayer: asking the Spirit of God to guide your mind and heart so that what you perceive in meditation is exactly what God wills. I find the following prayer extremely helpful in beginning meditation:

V. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
R. And enkindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And you will renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray.  O God, who have taught the hearts of the faithful
by the light of the Holy Spirit
grant that in the same Spirit we may be truly wise
and ever rejoice in his consolation.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Though not absolutely necessary, meditation is aided by the written word, most especially by God's own word - Holy Scripture - whose essence is the Divine Word Himself, our Lord Jesus Christ. Another phrase I sometimes use for meditation is to "prayerfully read" a passage from scripture or other spiritual work. By prayerfully reading it is meant that not only do we expose our intellect to the face-value content of what we are reading, but that we also come to open our hearts and souls to the idea - or "word" - which the Holy Spirit wills to speak to us through the spiritual reading. Finely tuning and utilizing our mental and spiritual faculties to listen to and incorporate into our spiritual lives what the Holy Spirit means to tell us is for the most part what meditation is.

The first point I would explore here involves the individual's developing a sensitivity to identifying when the Holy Spirit means to point out an idea, or "word", out to us as we are spiritually reading. I can describe what I do sense and know about this experience which is comparable to when a certain word or phrase "jumps out" at you when your are spiritually reading, most likely with Scripture.

A brief note: related to phenomenon of an individual's detection of an idea or message coming from without, is the Ignatian concept of discernment, whereby the individual puts to the test as it were the idea, in order to determine whether this idea is from God, oneself, or the evil one. I will attempt with my amateur ability to elaborate a bit further on this concept of discernment in a later post.

The essence of sensing when the Holy Spirit means to point out a certain word or phrase to me can be a combination of two things.

First, I would describe it as an intuition that there is more to be had from the meaning of the word, phrase, or passage I just read; this is to mean that though I know I have a firm enough intellectual grasp of the literal or general idea behind what is read, that somehow I "missed something". And, the Holy Spirit is drawing me back toward this "something" I missed in order for me to get more out of it. The idea or "word" to which I then retrace my steps and intend to delve more deeply into would be what's called in Ignatian meditation a "point" of one's meditation. However, beside being an idea which the Holy Spirit points out, a point can also be an idea the individual predetermines and brings with him or her to meditation. Examples of such points of mediation are:

1) A thelogical mystery which one wishes to understand better or simply gaze upon with the mind's eye in adoration.

2) A truth of the faith which one wishes to intellectually grasp more fully. (One does well to complement such mediation by reading Church teaching on the point.)

3) An attribute of God or our Lord Jesus with which and individual better familiarizes oneself in order to know, and thus love, our Lord better.

4) A virtue or characteristic of the spiritual life which one is inspired to learn more about in order to emulate it better.

Returning to the phenomenon of an idea "jumping out" at the individual in meditation, I would second describe the essence of this experience as an intuition that God intends to speak to me personally about the idea. With or without my knowing, this word is something I need to come to know better and incorporate into my life in order to grow. Upon reading, for example, a verse from Scripture, its message carries with it the impetus of God's voice speaking intimately to my soul. In addition, my personal sensitivity to the importance for me to internalize whatever point was just conveyed to me is all the keener when it lays bare an area of my spiritual life in which I know in my heart of hearts I need to grow. This idea from Scripture awakens a dormant area of my conscience which in turn bears me witness an area in which I need to even more fully conform how I perceive and live out my relationship with Christ to the truth of word he is speaking to me.

How one develops this sensitivity to identifying the Holy Spirit's indication of a "word" upon which he intends us to reflect comes about mainly through prayer and practice. This sensitivity for me personally is stimulated within the mind as I use the mind's faculties to delve more deeply into a point of meditation. The utilization of these faculties for me is as a movement of the mind's eye as it attempts to perceive more clearly and profoundly the meaning of the point.

I would describe this utilization of the faculties of the mind as combination of three elements:

1) - exercise of the intellect which analyzes the theological point in the attempt to articulate its meaning back to the intellect in a fashion which clarifies the point for the individual, thus making him or her more familiar with the point in question; the individual's intellect and the point of meditation become better friends.

Sometimes simple clarification of the meaning of a theological mystery is virtually impossible in light of the fact that such mysteries of the faith are infinite in their scope and identity. That being said, one can become more familiar with the mystery by attempting to intellectually analyze and learn more about it. Even as the individual comes away from meditation staggered by the understanding that he or she can barely drink a drop in the ocean of the mystery's meaning, it can be said that he or she is then paradoxically more familiar with and has a better grasp of the sublimity of the nature of theological mystery.

2) - an openness of the "mind's eye" and the "ear of the heart" to whatever the Holy Spirit would tell the individual about the meaning to be had from a point in meditation. This attempt at listening with the "ear of the heart" I would describe as an exercise of simultaneously listening for and listening to the Holy Spirit. In listening for the Holy Spirit, one does well to silence or slow down the constant movement of the mind from jumping around from one thought to another. Physical silence is also essential for this. The Holy Spirit speaks the the soul in varied ways: with images within the imagination; thoughts from without; and inclinations of the emotion which console or convict the individual in movements to guide him or her into an experience of God's loving care, or toward better acknowledgment of an area of the spiritual life needing improvement. Listening for such movements of the mind and heart require attentiveness in meditation. The exercise itself of taming one's mind into silence can even be an act of meditation - of preparing "good soil" in which God may implant His word (cf. Mk 4:20, Jas 1:21).

This second element of using the faculties of the mind relates to the first in that it is the Holy Spirit himself who clarifies or reveals to the intellect the deeper meaning to be had from a point of meditation. So, the effort to intellectually understand better a point is aided by simultaneously listening to the Spirit of God.

3) - use of the imagination. St. Ignatius of Loyala encouraged this method. He explained that one can meditate by simply imagining oneself in the presence of the Lord in one event or another recorded in the gospels. Here are three such events I can offer in which it may be fruitful for one to imagine oneself taking part:

a) Sitting at the feet of the Lord Jesus, as did the sister Mary (Luke 10:39), simply taking in all he has to speak to you.

b) To "stay with" Jesus, like the disciples in John 1:38-39, internalizing the experience of simply being with him. With regard to the idea of simply "being with" our Lord, I am reminded of something St. John Vianney said when asked what he did while spending so much time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament: "I look at Him; and he looks at me."

c) Lying close to the breat of Jesus, as did the disciple John in John 13:23,25, enjoying the closeness to the heart of our Lord, the source of divine love.

The source of the point which the Holy Spirit leads an individual to meditate upon can vary; it may consist of an idea behind a single word, a phrase, a verse or two from Scripture, or even the overarching idea behind a whole passage of several verses. Especially when one reads a whole passage of scripture and captures the main concept behind it to serve as a context or support when then going back over and more slowly delving into more specific ideas in the passage, then this practice would more closely come to reflect an element of lectio divina. That being said, it is not necessary to identify a "point" of meditation from Holy Scripture or other reading material. One may approach meditation with a predetermined point on which to meditate, for example, on God's goodness or mercy. If such desired points meditation are too broad so as to make one feel he or she doesn't know where to start in beginning to meditate a on point, then he or she may go about finding material on their desired point of meditation. For this reason, I have many other postings on this blog about virtues or attributes of God, each post providing various Scripture passages which illustrate each specific virtue or attribute.

Furthermore, it is not guaranteed when coming to prayer with a scripture passage upon which one wishes to reflect that anything will necessarily "jump out" at the individual. One may even consider this experience as a sort of consolation in prayer. Sometimes God does not provide us with consolation in prayer to avail us of the opportunity to make the act of faith in Him as, with the help of seemingly unbeknown grace, we convict ourselves of His presence and love without needing to depend on the occurrence of consolation. Such an act of faith also trains us to direct our faith toward God, and not toward ourselves in the effort of seeking out consolations in prayer which God may or may not allow us to experience. It has been said, "We must seek the God of consolations, rather than the consolations of God."

So, in the event that one does not have any particular idea from Scripture strike one personally, or for that matter sense God speak to one a certain word in prayer, it is important to remember that God sees the effort one makes to commune with and listen to Him in prayer. Even the most seemingly dry meditation or prayer experience to the individual can give glory to God given the time and effort God sees the individual devote to Him in love. In addition, when one is meditating upon Scripture, it is also important to remember that the very words one is reading are God's. Having one particular verse or word from Scripture "jump out" at the individual may not be necessary when one could simply benefit from spending time reading and understanding a passage from Scripture. A crucial step to God's word bearing fruit in one's life is that one understands it. "As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit." (Mt 13:23) If one attempts to meditate upon a passage from Scripture and does not expreience any consolation of the sense of God pointing out one verse or another, the time for meditation may simply be an opportunity God is giving to lead the individual to read and understand His word. Sitting back and opening the mind and heart to recognizing the experience of reading God's word, as one of God speaking to the soul with the very words from Scripture, bears much import indeed for the spiritual life. The word of God may take root and sprout within the soul, even without the individual's knowing it (cf. Mk 4:26-27), leavening the very depths of his or her being (cf. Mt 13:33). By taking in and retaining God's word, one internalizes the Divine Word himself, Jesus Christ, who said, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)

If one is unsure from where in Scripture to begin drawing the content of his or her spiritual reading, I would recommend one of the four gospels as a good starting point. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls the gospels "the heart of all the Scriptures" (125).

As the time devoted to God in meditation begins in prayer, so it ends. The individual responds to whatever idea or word was conveyed by God by talking to Him about it, for example, by thanking him for the word, and asking him to help in the individual's effort to understand or live it out better in his or her own life.

I hope these thoughts about meditation help you in any way possible. God bless.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Thanksgiving

First Day - Psalm 30

Second Day - Psalm 50

Third Day - Psalm 136

Fourth Day - Isaiah 12

Fifth Day - Luke 10:21-24

Sixth Day - Luke 17:11-19

Seventh Day - Luke 22:14-23

Eighth Day - 2 Corinthians 9

Ninth Day - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to thy name, O Most High. (Psalm 92:1)

Friday, November 20, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Compassion

First Day - Numbers 14:13-19

Second Day - Psalm 103

Third Day - Psalm 145

Fourth Day - Isaiah 49:13-23

Fifth Day - Hosea 11:1-8

Sixth Day - Mark 6:30-44

Seventh Day - Luke 10:25-37

Eighth Day - Luke 15:11-32

Ninth Day - John 8:1-11

The Lord is good to all,
and his compassion is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9)

A Novena of Meditations on Patience

First Day - Psalm 37

Second Day - Psalm 130

Third Day - Isaiah 40:27-31

Fourth Day - Matthew 13:24-43

Fifth Day - Luke 8:4-15

Sixth Day - Romans 2:1-8

Seventh Day - Romans 8:18-25

Eighth Day - 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Ninth Day - James 5:7-11

You also be patient.
Establish your hearts,
for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)

A Novena of Meditations on Gentleness

First Day - 1 Kings 19:9-16

Second Day - Psalm 23

Third Day - Psalm 103

Fourth Day - Matthew 11:25-30

Fifth Day - Matthew 12:15-21

Sixth Day - Luke 9:51-56

Seventh Day - Luke 13:6-9

Eighth Day - Colossians 3:12-17

Eighth Day - James 3:13-18

Love is patient and kind.  (1 Cor. 13:4)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Courage

First Day - 1 Samuel 17:31-58

Second Day - Jeremiah 1

Third Day - 2 Maccabees 7

Fourth Day - Matthew 10:16-33

Fifth Day - Luke 21:20-36

Sixth Day - 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Seventh Day - Ephesians 3:13-21

Eighth Day - Ephesians 6:10-20

Ninth Day - 1 Timothy 6:11-16

My Spirit abides among you; fear not. (Haggai 2:5)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Righteousness

First Day - Genesis 15:1-6

Second Day - Psalm 15 , Isaiah 33:13-22 , or Ezekiel 18:1-9

Third Day - Psalm 24 or 112

Fourth Day - Matthew 5:1-20

Fifth Day - Romans 3:19-31

Sixth Day - Romans 4:13-25

Seventh Day - Romans 5:12-21

Eighth Day - Romans 6:12-23

Ninth Day - Phillipians 3:1-11

Shower, O heavens, from above,
and let the skies rain down righteousness;
let the earth open, that salvation may sprout forth,
and let it cause righteousness to spring up also. (Isaiah 45:8)

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Novena of Gospel Meditations on Peace

First Day - Matthew 6:24-34

Second Day - Matthew 10:26-33

Third Day - Matthew 11:25-30

Fourth Day - Mark 4:35-41

Fifth Day - Luke 10:1-9

Sixth Day - John 14:1-6

Seventh Day - John 14:25-31

Eighth Day - John 16:25-33

Ninth Day - John 20:19-23

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased.
(Luke 2:14)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Peace

First Day - Genesis 8

Second Day - Psalm 85

Third Day - Isaiah 2:1-5

Fourth Day - Isaiah 9:1-7

Fifth Day - John 14:25-31

Sixth Day - John 20:19-23

Seventh Day - Ephesians 2:11-22

Eighth Day - Phillipians 4:1-9

Ninth Day - Colossians 1:15-20

And the effect of righteousness will be peace,
and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. (Isaiah 32:17)

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Justice

First Day - 1 Kings 3

Second Day - Psalm 96

Third Day - Psalm 99

Fourth Day - Isaiah 42:1-4

Fifth Day - Matthew 25:31-46

Sixth Day - Luke 1:46-55

Seventh Day - John 5:19-29

Eighth Day - Hebrews 10:19-39

Ninth Day - James 2:1-13

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Confidence

First Day - Psalm 31

Second Day - Psalm 37

Third Day - Matthew 9:18-26

Fourth Day - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

Fifth Day - Hebrews 4:13-16

Sixth Day - Hebrews 10:32-39

Seventh Day - 1 Peter 1:13-21

Eighth Day - 1 John 2:28-3:3

Ninth Day - 1 John 4:13-21

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on the Cross

First Day - Matthew 7:13-14

Second Day - Matthew 11:25-30

Third Day - Mark 10:35-45

Fourth Day - Luke 9:23-27

Fifth Day - Luke 14:25-33

Sixth Day - John 3:13-17

Seventh Day - John 12:20-26

Eighth Day - John 15:12-17

Ninth Day - John 19:17-37

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains alone;
but if it dies, it bears much fruit. - John 12:24

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Mortality

First Day - Genesis 3:16-24

Second Day - Psalm 39

Third Day - Psalm 90

Fourth Day - Luke 12:13-34

Fifth Day - Romans 14:5-9

Sixth Day - 1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Seventh Day - 1 Corinthians 15:42-57

Eighth Day - 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Ninth Day - Phillipians 1:19-26

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come...
and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 7)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Think My Son May Be a Little Saint

Of course, all parents think much of their own children, but I have to share this.

After Mass today at the socialization and snack time, my son, Joseph, who is 19-1/2 months old, approached a little girl of about eight years who held three crackers and extended his hand toward her crackers, uttering a beseeching grunt. She told him, "No," hiding the crackers behind her back. My wife consoled him, "It's OK, Joseph, we have more crackers here," and walked him over to the snack table and got him one. Joseph then walked back over to the same little girl and held out his cracker, offering it to her.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Goodness

First Day - Luke 6:27-38

Second Day - Romans 12:9-21

Third Day - Ephesians 4:25-32

Fourth Day - Phillipians 2:1-18

Fifth Day - Phillipians 4:4-13

Sixth Day - Colossians 3:1-17

Seventh Day - 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24

Eighth Day - James 3:13-18

Ninth Day - Matthew 12:33-37

The Lord is good.  (Psalm 100:5)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Life in the Spirit

First Day - Ezekiel 36:22-28

Second Day - John 3:1-8

Third Day - John 7:37-39

Fourth Day - Acts 2:1-21

Fifth Day - Romans 8:1-17

Sixth Day - Romans 8:18-27

Seventh Day - 1 Corinthians 2:6-16

Eighth Day - 1 Corinthians 12:1-13

Ninth Day - Galatians 5:13-26

The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.  (Isaiah 11:2-3)

A Novena of Meditations on Life in Christ

First Day - Romans 6:1-11

Second Day - 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Third Day - 2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Fourth Day - Galatians 2:15-20

Fifth Day - Galatians 3:23-27

Sixth Day - Ephesians 1:3-23

Seventh Day - Ephesians 3:14-21, 4:1-16

Eighth Day - Colossians 1:24-29

Ninth Day - John 15:1-11

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? (2 Cor. 13:6)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Poverty of Spirit

First Day - Job 1:20-22

Second Day - Matthew 5:1-12

Third Day - Matthew 10:5-15

Fourth Day - Mark 10:17-33

Fifth Day - Mark 12:41-44

Sixth Day - Luke 9:57-62

Seventh Day - Luke 12:13-31

Eighth Day - Phillipians 3:1-11

Ninth Day - James 2:1-5

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Love for God

First Day - Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Second Day - Deut. 10:12-22

Third Day - Psalm 63

Fourth Day - Hosea 6:1-6

Fifth Day - Matthew 22:34-40

Sixth Day - 2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Seventh Day - 1 John 2:1-6, 15-17

Eighth Day - 1 John 4:13-21, 5:1-5

Ninth Day - John 21:15-19

Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly scorned. (Song of Songs 8:7)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Being Children of God

First Day - Genesis 1:26-31

Second Day - Mat. 5:43-48

Third Day - Luke 11:5-13

Fourth Day - Luke 15:11-32

Fifth Day - John 1:1-18

Sixth Day - Romans 8:12-17

Seventh Day - 1 John 3:1-10

Eighth Day - 1 John 5:1-12

Ninth Day - Matthew 6:7-13

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (1 John 3:1)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Prudence

First Day - Matthew 5:33-37

Second Day - Matthew 10:16-23

Third Day - Matthew 11:16-19

Fourth Day - Matthew 12:33-37

Fifth Day - Matthew 25:1-13

Sixth Day - Luke 12:35-48

Seventh Day - Luke 12:54-59

Eighth Day - Luke 14:25-35

Ninth Day - Luke 16:1-15

"Self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable than these." (Wisdom 8:7)

Friday, June 19, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on God's Love

First Day - Deuteronomy 7:6-13

Second Day - Hosea 11:1-9

Third Day - Luke 15:1-10

Fourth Day - Luke 15:11-32

Fifth Day - John 3:13-21

Sixth Day - John 14:18-24

Seventh Day - John 19:28-37

Eighth Day - Romans 5:1-11

Ninth Day - 1 John 4:7-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

A Novena of Meditations on Love of Neighbor

First Day - Matthew 18:21-35

Second Day - Matthew 25:31-46

Third Day - Luke 6:27-38

Fourth Day - Luke 10:25-37

Fifth Day - Luke 16:19-31

Sixth Day - John 13:1-15; 31-35

Seventh Day - John 15:9-17

Eighth Day - 1 John 3:11-18

Ninth Day - 1 Corinthians 13

Monday, May 4, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Saint Joseph

First Day - Matthew 1:1-17

Second Day - Matthew 1:18-25

Third Day - Luke 2:1-7

Fourth Day - Luke 2:15-21

Fifth Day - Luke 2:22-40

Sixth Day - Matthew 2:13-23

Seventh Day - Genesis 39:1-6

Eighth Day - Luke 2:41-52

Ninth Day - Matthew 13:53-58

The righteous flourish like the palm tree,
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord,
they flourish in the courts of our God. (Psalms 92:12-13)

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on the Word of God

Prayerfully read the following Scriptural passages for nine days in order to form a sort of novena of meditations on the Word of God (that is, "Word" with either a capital or lower case "w"). May your meditations be fruitful.

First Day - Deuteronomy 8:1-10

Second Day - Isaiah 55:6-13

Third Day - Luke 8:4-21

Fourth Day - 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Fifth Day - Hebrews 4:1-13

Sixth Day - James 1:16-27

Seventh Day - 1 Peter 1:13-25

Eighth Day - Revelation 19:9-16

Ninth Day - John 1:1-18

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Novena of Meditations on Joy in the Midst of Suffering

Pope John Paul II wrote of joy in the midst of suffering in his Apostolic Letter, Salvifici Dolores:

"The individual...does not discover [the salvific meaning of suffering] at his own human level, but at the level of the suffering of Christ. At the same time, however, from this level of Christ the salvific meaning of suffering descends to man's level and becomes, in a sense, the individual's personal response. It is then that man finds in his suffering interior peace and even spiritual joy.  Saint Paul speaks of such joy in the Letter to the Colossians: 'I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake' [Col 1:24]. A source of joy is found in the overcoming of the sense of the uselessness of suffering, a feeling that is sometimes very strongly rooted in human suffering." (No. 26-27)

So that one may better incorporate into the spiritual life this resolve to rejoice in the midst of life's sufferings, here are nine days of scriptural passages which one may prayerfully read in order to form a novena of meditations on this subject. May it help you find joy in the midst of suffering.

First Day - Matthew 5:1-12

Second Day - John 16:16-33

Third Day - Romans 5:1-5

Fourth Day - 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Fifth Day - Colossians 1:24-29

Sixth Day - James 1:2-4, 5:7-11

Seventh Day - 1 Peter 1:3-9

Eighth Day - 1 Peter 4:12-19

Ninth Day - Acts 5:27-42

May he cheer those within you who are captives,
and love those within you who are distressed,
to all generations for ever.  (Tobit 13:10)