Among those attracted to this method were Christians including the Benedictine monk John Main (1926-1982). Main discovered that such a technique could also be found in early Christian tradition, particularly in the teaching of the fourth century desert Father, John Cassian.
Adopting the term ‘Christian Meditation,’ Main taught a form of contemplative prayer that involves internally reciting a Christian prayer-word for around half an hour, twice a day. His suggested prayer-word was “Maranatha,” meaning “Lord, come” or “The Lord comes” in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke).
This Australia-produced audio compact disc provides an excellent introduction to this approach to Christian prayer.
Fr Lawrence Freeman, another Benedictine monk, is John Main’s successor and founded the World Community for Christian Meditation in 1991. The audio disc begins with a 20-minute presentation by Freeman about Christian Meditation.
Freeman speaks about the problems caused by the split commonly made today between ‘spirituality’ and ‘religion,’ about the effects of meditation, how it counters fundamentalism, and its attraction for young people. Following this, a number of Australians engaged in Christian Meditation speak about their experiences and the impact it has had on their lives.
A mother speaks about how Christian Meditation helped her come in touch with her heart, rather than always approaching life using her intellect.
A married couple had each independently been involved in a variety of meditation schools, then both became involved specifically in Christian Meditation. They share about the positive impact this has had on their marriage.
A barrister reveals how meditation has helped him in his work, especially in listening to his clients, as well as deepening his faith.
A woman living with a painful chronic illness explains how meditation helps her not only deal with her pain, but also to understand the pain of others. She is remarkably compassionate. Indeed, if there is one characteristic that emerges from these personal stories, it is the compassion of those engaged in Christian Meditation.
The CD concludes with a meditation exercise. Dom Freeman provides an introduction, which is followed by 20 minutes of silence that ends with a gentle bell sound, followed by a concluding prayer. This means one does not need to set a timer or alarm to know when to end the meditation session.
This is a well-considered program that inspired me personally to try this approach to prayer. The ABC is to be congratulated on producing this guide to a specifically Christian approach to meditation to join its other audio publications for self-help and well-being.