Annual Retreat Meditation
Annual Retreat Prayer- Meditation
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a universal spiritual wisdom and a practice that we find at the core of all the great religious traditions, leading from the mind to the heart. It is a way of simplicity, silence and stillness. It can be practised by anyone from wherever you are on your life’s journey. It is only necessary to be clear about the practice and then to begin – and keep on beginning.
What makes meditation Christian? Firstly the faith with which you meditate – some sense of personal connection with Jesus. Then the historical scriptural and theological tradition in which we meditate. In recent times a great recovery of the contemplative dimension of Christian faith has been happening. Central to this now is the rediscovery of a practice of meditation in the Christian tradition that comes to us from the early Christian monks _ the Desert Fathers and Mothers and allows us to put into practice the teaching of Jesus on prayer in a radical and simple way. John Main’s teaching of this ancient tradition of prayer is rooted in the Gospels and the early Christian monastic tradition of the Desert. Meditation does not replace other forms of prayer– the other forms of prayer like scripture, sacraments and worship are nourished.
‘when two or three pray together in my name, I am there among them.’.
Drawing directly from the early Christian teaching John Main summarised the practice in this simple way:
Sit down. Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Then interiorly, silently begin to recite a single word – a prayer word or mantra. We recommend the ancient Christian prayer-word "Maranatha". Say it as four equal syllables. Breathe normally and give your full attention to the word as you say it, silently, gently, faithfully and above all - simply. The essence of meditation is simplicity. Stay with the same word during the whole meditation and from day to day. Don't visualise but listen to the word as you say it. Let go of all thoughts (even good thoughts), images and other words. Don’t fight your distractions but let them go by saying your word faithfully, gently and attentively and returning to it immediately that you realise you have stopped saying or it or when your attention is wandering.
Silence means letting go of thoughts. Stillness means letting go of desire. Simplicity means letting go of self-analysis. Finally - but also primarily - we meditate to take the attention off ourselves. In the Christian tradition it is seen as a work of love. Not surprising then if we find we become more loving people as a result of meditating and this will express itself in all our relationships, our work and our sense of service especially to those in any kind of need.
John Main said that ‘meditation verifies the truths of your faith in your own experience’.
Opening Prayer of Dom John Main
"Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the silent presence of the spirit of your Son. Lead us into that mysterious silence where your love is revealed to all who call, 'Maranatha…Come, Lord Jesus'."
Closing Prayer by Laurence Freeman OSB
"May this group be a true spiritual home for the seeker, a friend for the lonely, a guide for the confused. May those who pray here be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to serve all who come, and to receive them as Christ Himself. In the silence of this room may all the suffering, violence, and confusion of the world encounter the Power that will console, renew and uplift the human spirit.
May this silence be a power to open the hearts of men and women to the vision of God, and so to each other, in love and peace, justice and human dignity. May the beauty of the divine life, fill this group and the hearts of all who pray here, with joyful hope. May all who come here weighed down by the problems of humanity leave giving thanks for the wonder of human life. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. AMEN." www.wccm.org/
Was it light?
Was it light within?
Was it light within light?
Stillness becoming alive,
A lively understandable spirit
Once entertained you.
It will come again.
Theodore Roethke [ www.poetry-chaikhana.com]