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Posted September 23, 2004

Book: Slow Down: Five-minute meditations to de-stress yours days
Author: Joseph M. Champlin
Sorin Books, Notre Dame, IN, pp. 206

From the Introduction:

A guarantee accompanies this small book:

. . .Use the publication daily, or at least regularly, 101 times, setting aside five-minutes for prayerful reflection on each occasion. If at the end of these 101 sessions you do not experience a perceptible reduction in the symptoms of stress, then write the author at his address in the afterword and he will send you by return mail a check covering the cost of the book.

Basis for the Boast

This bold guarantee may seem like an author’s fanciful boast or a publisher’s marketing ploy. However, the offer rests upon a solid secular and spiritual basis.

Some years ago the leaders of the Transcendental Meditation movement asked Harvard Cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson to conduct a study about the therapeutic effects of its practices. The research physician at the start felt skeptical about this idea, but they offered him a lucrative contract for the study so he agreed to undertake the project.

The results made him a believer. He discovered that people who practice meditation once or twice a day experience a measurable reduction in the extreme signs of stress, for example, blood pressure, heart beat, and sleep patterns.

From a purely secular or natural aspect, therefore, daily periods of prayerful reflection tend to reduce stress.

Those who strive to pause quietly for a significant period of time each day out of spiritual or supernatural motives likewise confirm the calming effects of that discipline.

Jesus often withdrew from his busy preaching and healing ministry to pray. After curing aleper of his disease and great crowds of their ailments, he withdrew to a deserted place for prayer. Befoe selecting the twelve apostles and continuing his public work, he went off to a mountain and “spent the night in communion with God.”

When those twelve followers returned from teaching and healing missions, they excitedly spoke to Jesus of their great successes. His response, however, was: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” And they did so.

Close followers of Christ ever since have imitated his example and words.

St. Francis, after busily preaching and advising, regularly had recourse to an isolated spot in Assisi where he spent a lengthy time alone in prayer.

Protestant preacher and pastor David Wilkerson began praying late one night instead of watching a televised movie rerun and states that his life was never the same again.

The late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen called those sixty uninterrupted minutes of prayer the hour that made his day.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta insisted that the members of her Missionaries of Charity fit their work among the poorest between substantive periods of quiet meditation at the beginning and end of each day.

Popular spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen concluded that unless we have some time set aside for God and God alone each day, we will not be able to convert our unceasing thoughts to unceasing prayer or to transform our constant work into a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives.

These people found time for prayerful reflection each day because of spiritual or supernatural motivations. But all would concur that these quiet periods simultaneously center their hearts, calm their emotions, and still their souls.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Loving Others

During the finale of the powerful musical Les Miserables, a chorus from above escorts the dying hero Jean Valjean to his heavenly home.

While doing so, they sing “Those who love another person will see the face of God.”

There were many times when this remarkably strong, brave, and caring man showed his love for others.

He unselfishly raised the orphaned Cosette to adulthood.

He went out at night with his pockets full and returned with them empty, having secretly given coins to the poor.

He prayed to God on high that Cosette’s beloved Marius would return safely from battle.

The Bible commands: Love God with your whole heart and your neighbor as yourself.

Jean Valjean kept these commands and at the end of is life heard angelic voices sing: “Those who love another person will see the face of God.”

Spiritual suggestion:

Today, reach out with love toward someone.

God’s Word:

Trust in the Lord and do good
that you may dwell in the land and live secure.
Find your delight in the Lord
who will give you your heart’s desire. Psalm 37:3-4