Are Catholics allowed to meditate?

Meditation is often associated with other Asian religions, which has led to the question of whether Catholics are allowed to meditate.

Aug 05, 2022


By Julie Lim

Meditation is often associated with other Asian religions, which has led to the question of whether Catholics are allowed to meditate. In a recent episode of Catholics@Home podcast, the Spiritual Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation Malaysia, Fr Gerard Theraviam spoke about meditation as a method of encountering Jesus.

“Meditation is prayer. When I was at the seminary, we had 30 minutes of meditation in the morning before Mass. Prayer time given to meditation is something that is found in every seminary in the world. However, what constitutes meditation in the Catholic context is something to consider. But the fact is meditation has been part of the Church’s life from Biblical times.”

Fr Gerard explained that different translations of the Bible describe the word ‘meditation’ according to the context in which it is used, such as in ‘ponder’, ‘reflect’, ‘sigh’ ‘murmur’ ‘muse’ and ‘immerse’. Examples of Biblical references to meditation can be found in Genesis 24:63, Psalm 48:10, Psalm 77:12, Psalm 119:15, Psalm 119:148 and 1 Timothy 4:15.

“Christian meditation must be centred on God. It is about bringing ourselves before God and focusing our thoughts on scripture, or on God’s presence.” He says that mindfulness meditation is somewhat different from Christian meditation. “For many people, mindfulness is about training your mind to be present and to be aware by focusing your attention on the present moment. It may well be that a mindfulness experience may not necessarily have anything to do with God.”

On his experience with meditation, Fr Gerard said, “There may have been things in the background that I’ve been thinking about and praying about. But my way of meditating is to shift my focus away from those things. Very often, having finished my meditation, and in the course of the day, or in the course of my prayer later, I may have greater certainty in terms of what God is wanting me to do.

“My time of meditation is not so much of going into the presence of God to seek answers. I am there simply to be there, to be with God, to be in His presence, and being one with God. I should not have a predetermined agenda.”

Fr Gerard says that there are different ways of meditation. “If I am meditating on the scriptures, I am getting deeper into His word. I am discovering more and more of what Jesus said, of what Jesus did and I am entering more and more into His life.

“I can have a sense of God and pray to God, but the danger is that if I am not immersing myself more and more into the Word, I will only have superficial knowledge (head knowledge) of Christ. But if I meditate on the Word and am led towards silence and being present with Him whose life I’ve been reading about, and just being one with Him in a prayer of the heart and no longer just the mind, that leads me to a more profound relationship with the person of the Lord.”

To view this podcast, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFVYcRs7tKQ
For more information about WCCM Malaysia, go to https://www.wccmmalaysia.org/

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