The Benedictine monk John Main was one of the most profoundly influential spiritual teachers of our age. His belief that the desert tradition of meditative prayer practised by the earliest monastic communities had an immediate and contemporary relevance gave rise to the vision of a totally new kind of community, one made up of men and women scattered throughout the world yet united in their daily practice of Christian meditation.
John Main OSB (1926-1982) believed that the contemplative experience creates community. His genius was to recover and to re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer he found the practice of the mantra. Realising that this way of prayer could further the search of many modern people for a deeper spiritual life, he recommended two regular daily periods of meditation to be integrated with the usual practices of Christian life.
The Community is now led by Laurence Freeman OSB.
Christian Meditation is based on the writings of one of the Desert Fathers, John Cassian. He described a method of prayer that flowed out of the Gospel, which stills the heart and mind and allows the prayer to simply ‘be’ with God.
Find a quiet place. Sit down with your back upright. Sit still.
Gently close your eyes and begin to recite your prayer-word, or mantra, silently, interiorly and lovingly throughout the time of your meditation: “Ma-ra-na-tha.” Say it as four equally-stressed syllables.
It is an Aramaic word (which is the language that Jesus spoke) and it means “Come, Lord.” It is found in the Scriptures and is one of the earliest prayers in the Christian tradition.
Do not think about the meaning of the word. Just give your attention to the sound of it throughout the time of your meditation, from the beginning to the end. Whenever distractions arise, simply return to your mantra. Meditate for 30 minutes each morning and each evening, every day of your life. Father John always said: “Just say your word.” Meditation is a way of pure prayer marked by silence, stillness, and simplicity.
- The World Community for Christian Meditation website
- The Australian Christian Meditation Community website
- Word into Silence: A Manual for Christian Meditation by John Main (Canterbury Press).