In 2019 we will be going deeper within – in the tradition of St Augustine himself, who pioneered spiritual autobiography in the West. When we find ourselves, we find God. Could the eclipse of God in the West suggest a dislocation from our very humanity?
This year, we will especially explore the nature of dreams.
Fr Chris is available also for listening, and for Confession.
Meditation, or Contemplation
Meditation is at the heart of Christian life.
It is not an eastern import, but rather an ancient Christian discipline. Its origins are in fourth century Egypt, when many fled the cities for the desert, seeking a purer and more human way of life.
These ‘desert mothers and fathers’ devoted themselves to prayer, including to the wordless prayer of meditation. They also studied the art of community, believing purity of heart to be the key to communal life.
One of these seekers, John Cassian, stayed 20 years, learning the lessons of the desert. Thereafter he went to Marseille, southern France, where he taught both women and men. He taught a form of mantra prayer:
And so for keeping up a continual recollection of God, this holy formula is to be ever set before you. “O God, make speed to save me: O Lord, make haste to help me.” This verse of all verses has been chosen from scripture. It embraces all the feelings which can be implanted in human nature; it can be adapted to every condition, and to every challenge of life.
We too say the mantra (this, or any other). Yet, as Cassian believed, the mantra itself gives way to a wordless and imageless state. This is pure contemplation – unity with God.
Cassian’s thought is preserved in The Conferences. That work influenced St Benedict some 80 years later and, thereafter, passed into the whole stream of Western monasticism.
Wordless and imageless prayer found a special place among the Dominicans, too, having been promoted by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century.
John Main’s World Community for Christian Meditation – https://www.wccm.org/content/john-main
Come along 7:00pm Wednesdays to try meditation!