Christian Meditation the John Main way

On May 4, a gathering of 85 participants from parishes in Penang and Sungai Petani came to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit to experience the profound practice of the John Main tradition of meditation.

May 26, 2023

The participants from the parishes in Penang and Sg Petani at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (photo/Sam Gopal).

By Basil Surin

On May 4, a gathering of 85 participants from parishes in Penang and Sungai Petani came to the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit to experience the profound practice of the John Main tradition of meditation. This ancient Christian form of meditation delves beyond words, thoughts, and images, employing mantras to deepen one’s spiritual journey.

The Cathedral of the Holy Spirit Meditation Group organised the one-day introductory workshop in collaboration with the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) (Malaysia). It aimed to introduce and share the Christian tradition of meditation while encouraging participants to embrace a deeper spiritual life through the discipline of silent meditation, stillness, and simplicity.

The workshop was facilitated by Fr Eugene Fernandez CSsR, Roland Victor, Jessie Chin, and Victoria Labrooy, who provided insightful guidance on John Main’s meditation practice.

In the morning session, Fr Eugene and Roland shed light on the value of meditation, emphasising the cultivation of interior silence, the practice of physical stillness, and the art of being present to God in a state of simplicity. Fr Eugene expounded on the obstructive nature of the ego in one’s relationship with God and stressed the importance of transcending self. He also introduced the concept of the wheel of prayer, symbolising the perpetual motion of the prayer life that moves us closer to God. The spokes of the wheel represent the different forms of prayer that ultimately converge at the hub, which signifies the prayer of Christ, the mind of Christ.

During the afternoon session, Jessie discussed the pivotal role played by the Benedictine monk John Main (1926-1982) in rediscovering the ancient prayer practice of the Desert Fathers and its relevance to modern Christians. This practice involved the loving repetition of a single sacred word, now referred to as a mantra. Jessie eloquently highlighted the roots of meditation in the Christian tradition and John Main’s contributions.
Victoria succinctly presented the fruits of embracing the daily discipline of meditation. Throughout the sessions, participants actively engaged in lively question and answer exchanges.

Roland guided the participants through two 20-minute periods of meditation, emphasising the importance of complete silence and the slow, loving repetition of the chosen mantra in the mind. Participants were led to meditate in silence, repeating the four syllables of the Aramaic word Ma-Ra-Na-Tha (Come, Lord) to experience the divine presence of God. Roland reiterated the significance of maintaining a good sitting posture, focusing on the mantra, gently and continuously repeating it, returning to it during moments of distraction, and persevering by dedicating 20 to 30 minutes to meditation each morning and evening.

In the final session, a video presentation showcased the international activities of the WCCM, focusing on the role of Lawrence Freeman, the current director of the community. Roland also shared the initiatives of WCCM in Malaysia, expressing hope that the gift of meditation is shared with others nationwide.

The participants found the workshop to be uplifting and enlightening, even within the short span of a single day. Participant Chris Chin reflected, “I learned that meditation complements prayers, providing an opportunity to empty myself so God can work within me. It showed me it is possible to transcend everything and connect directly with the Spirit of God.”

Attendee Christine Ho shared her transformative experience stating, “It was an eye-opener and gave me a glimpse of how to surrender myself like a child to my Creator, my Father, my God!”

The workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to experience the healing and transforming power of divine love and the presence of God within their hearts through silent meditation. By letting go of distracting thoughts and mental images, and embracing the meditative act of repeating the soul-touching mantra MA-RA-NA-THA syllable by syllable, participants were able to immerse themselves in the profound practice of the John Main Tradition. The workshop catalysed personal growth and spiritual enrichment, leaving participants with a deeper understanding of the Christian tradition of meditation and a renewed connection with their faith.

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