When we commit to Christian Meditation
When we commit to Christian Mediation, we commit to three things … (1) we commit to pray, (2) we commit to dying to ourselves in order to come alive in Christ, and (3) we commit to living life more fully, to becoming more present to those around us.
(1) We commit to pray …
Meditation is prayer. It was prayer that nurtured the life of Jesus. He prayed regularly and particularly in the critical moments of his life. He prayed before he began his public life. He prayed at his baptism in the Jordan. He prayed at the transfiguration. He prayed when he instituted the Eucharist. He prayed in Gethsemane. He prayed when he was dying on the cross. But prayer is not only reserved for the crises in our lives. Prayer is for every day. The Gospel is peppered with references to Jesus withdrawing to a quiet place to pray. He wanted to be in communication with his father. He was nurtured and strengthened by that communication.
When we commit to mediation, we commit to pray. We commit to pray regularly. We commit to pray twice a day. I have found that my commitment to meditating every day is a great help to me. It ensures that I pray regularly. In our busy lives it is all too easy to regard prayer as an unnecessary extra. It is so easy to put the urgent task before the important task, and so prayer takes a back seat. Meditation has become for me my way of prayer, my time for God. Being a daily practice it helps me to ensure that God has a central place in my life. Meditation does not replace all other forms of prayer. It enriches them. Since I began to meditate, other forms of prayer whether it be the Mass or Lectio Divina, have become more meaningful and more attractive. Most important of all since I began meditating, I live more in God’s presence. Turning to God during the day has become more natural.
(2) We commit to dying to ourselves in order to come alive in Christ …
Our thoughts, our plans, our reflections are what are most personal to us. In meditation we commit to leaving them aside. We do this by being silent, by closing our eyes, by saying our word. This stillness of the body and quietening of the mind is not to create time for introspection but rather to make space for God in our lives. Meditation is all about letting God and letting go. It is about dying to ourselves and our egos so that we may come alive in Christ.
Timothy Radcliffe in his book “Why go to Church?” writes about the silence of the monks in the film “La Grande Chartreuse“. He describes their silence in the following way:
“The silence of those monks is an emptiness in which they meet God. They are the empty bowls which God fills with his blessing”.
Nor is meditation about thinking of God, the life of Christ or the truths of our faith. John Main expressed this very clearly when speaking to the Trappist Monks in Gethsemane Abbey in the U.S.A. – the abbey where Thomas Merton lived – he said the following:
“Meditative prayer is not an intellectual exercise in which we reflect about theological propositions. In meditation we are not thinking about God at all, nor are we thinking of His Son Jesus, nor of the Holy Spirit. In meditation we seek to do something immeasurably greater: – we seek to be with God, to be with Jesus, to be with His Holy Spirit; not merely to think about them.”
In October 2012, Rowan Williams – the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, was invited to address the synod of Catholic Bishops meeting in Rome. This was a truly historic occasion. The subject of his speech was the exciting title “The New Evangelisation“. One might have expected the Archbishop to use the occasion to come up with some new headline-catching theories. One would have expected him to map out some new course of action for Christians to address the growing secularism in the world. The essence of what he said is contained in the following quotation from his address:
“New Evangelisation begins not with us doing things, but with us forgetting ourselves; it begins with stillness, forgetting the hectic and the consumerism of the moment. If we do not do this, then we run the risk of trying to sustain our faith on a purely human set of values where the Church comes to look unhappily like so many purely human institutions, anxious, busy, competitive and controlling.”
(3) We commit to living life more fully, to becoming more present to those around us …
When we commit to meditation, we commit to living life to the full. The close link between meditation and life is reflected in the prayer that we recite at the end of each of our meditation meetings:
“May the grace we have received, sink deep in our hearts;
Bear fruit in our lives;
And keep us in ever loving thanks and praise to you, 0 God.”
In our meditation group, members have shared how meditation has helped them to become more present to the world around them. They have shared how this heightened awareness has helped them to become better listeners and to become more grateful for the gifts they have received.
In short, the practice of Christian Meditation is not a withdrawal from life but a way of ensuring that we live life more fully; that we embrace life more wholeheartedly; that we see life differently.
In conclusion, our commitment to meditation helps us to make God more central in our lives. It helps us to die to ourselves so that Jesus may live more fully in us. Our commitment to meditation helps us to live our own lives more fully in the love and service of those around us.
(Article written and shared at one of our Meditation meetings, July 2014)