(World Community for Christian Meditation – the John Main tradition)
One of the problems facing a westerner when first confronting meditation is the strangeness of the exercise. To be asked to close your eyes, sit silent and still for 20 minutes or more, thinking of nothing while repeating a short phrase does not sit easily with our Catholic upbringing. It is necessary therefore to point out that this type of prayer (and meditation is indeed a form of prayer) is part of the tradition of our church and has been with us from early times.
This can be seen in the words of Christ when he urged his disciples, ‘When you pray go to your room, close the door, and pray to your father who is unseen. And do not use a lot of meaningless words. Your father already knows what you need before you ask him.’
Silence can be prayer
What kind of prayer are we being encouraged to undertake? It would appear to be a prayer without words, a dialogue without discourse, a silent communication with the Divine Presence at the centre of our being.
This is not unfamiliar territory to us and it seems sensible to find the quiet room which we all possess within us and there for a time close the door on the outside world and wait for the presence of the Lord.
Image and reality
However the idea of thinking about nothing or to be more precise not thinking about anything, seems to be rather peculiar. Should we not be projecting images of a religious nature which will help us to come closer to the Presence within us? Well, no, as to do this will only hinder the relationship we are trying to establish in this type of prayer. What we are desiring here is a union with the eternal reality that dwells within, not with an image of the reality which we ourselves have created.
It may be a comforting image but it is not the reality which is God. Of necessity it will be a limited image since it will have been formed by the limitations of our culture, our environment and even our religion. If we wish to enter into the very depths of our inner self, into the presence of the other who dwells there, then we must let go of the illusions that we ourselves create and allow him to present himself as he is and not as we would want Him to appear.
Experiencing the reality
‘In meditation we do not seek to think about God, but to be with Him, to experience Him as the ground of our being. It is one thing to know that Jesus is the revelation of the Father, that Jesus is our way to the Father, but quite another to experience the real power of His Spirit within us and in that experience to be brought into the presence of His Father and Our Father.’
Fr John Main OSB Word into Silence.
The final community day for Wellington’s eight meditation groups this year, will be held at Strathean, 212 Old Hautere Road, Te Horo, on Saturday 16 December.
For more information about the meditation groups in the region, contact the coordinator Hugh McLaughlin 4767501