Welcome to the U.S. website of the World Community for Christian Meditation! Here you can find:
Local meditation groups, thoughout the US .
Basic information on meditation in the Christian tradition as recovered and passed on by John Main and Laurence Freeman.
News of events and retreats, our current newsletter, and links to our International Website.
The World Community for Christian Meditation, which is inclusive of all denominations, shares a commitment to the discipline of meditation inspired by the early Christian Desert Fathers and Mothers, and John Cassian in particular, which was taught and articulated by Fr. John Main, OSB (1926-1982). Today, his successor, Fr. Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine priest and Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, continues the teaching. It transforms our lives in its twice daily practice and creates a community that constitutes a monastery without walls.
2017 Lenten Week Messages from Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB
Monday Lent Week Four
The Christian imagination saw the biblical account of the Exodus – the forty years that the Israelites spent wandering in the desert with Moses as their GPS – as a symbol of Lent. Quite regularly, they would rebel. First they craved the food they had left behind and found their desert diet unbearably boring. Then, when Moses disappeared up the mountain into the cloud of unknowing to speak with God and receive the Ten Commandments, they felt abandoned and lonely.
Although they complained endlessly about their fate and blamed Moses for everything, when he went away they were leaderless and confused. Their inner compass lost direction. Aaron, one of the false leaders who are always at hand when the people get restless, took them in the wrong direction. (Leavers and Remainers in the Brexit schism in Britain would disagree on how to apply this story to their present situation). Maybe Aaron felt he had to do something and that he didn’t have Moses’s charisma to keep the people steady. For whatever reason he did the terrible thing that the Israelites were always prone to do when things got bad for them. He turned them towards false gods. He asked them to hand over their gold jewelry to melt down and fashion as a golden calf. This suggests how much we are prepared to sacrifice for the false consolation offered by illusion.
Having made the new idol they began worshipping it but soon the worship turned into revelry. This makes for good television if the censors permit. Perhaps it shows that what we really want when we are desperate is not a god but entertainment. Our own culture is less about idolatry, although we absolutize many foolish things and create celebrity as an alternative to sanctity. It is more about entertaining ourselves continuously with whatever stimulates, titillates or distracts us. We stay up late at night gorging on entertainment. We cannot make a short train journey without watching a film and having a snack. And of course we feed our children a diet of animated distraction delivered by various electronic devices.
This is understandable and also forgivable. The wisdom necessary for survival is that we have to forgive ourselves for our own stupidities. Simone Weil said that consolation is the only resort of those who are afflicted. And to lose direction, to feel abandoned, to have lost our good leaders and to feel that even God has left us, is to be sorely afflicted. The only problem is that this kind of consolation is illusion and illusion eats away at the very foundations of our sense of self. In trying to escape the darkness, it opens the abyss. It leads to disorder of the psyche and to chaos in the community.
Every so often, from time to time, we all find fidelity boring. Unless we are encouraged and inspired from some authentic source, these moments of weakness lead us to crave variety for its own sake. We become impatient. We lose hope that fidelity to the path we are following will produce the richness and delight that, at other times, we believe it will. This weakness in human nature is also a source of strength. But it is a design fault in everything we do that needs patience, fidelity and commitment, from saying the mantra to marriage, from seeing a project through to completion to waiting for Moses to come back down the mountain.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Today’s gospel (Jn 9) is about the healing of a man born blind. Like the story of the Samaritan woman last week, it is told on many levels of meaning opening on to each other. Despite the apparent obviousness of the story it has Shakespearian depths and, like our experience of life, reveals how multi-faceted reality is.
The disciples ask Jesus who was responsible for the man’s condition – his parents or himself? It’s hard to see from this question how either was to blame without having inherited karma. Anyway Jesus dismisses this approach by saying the meaning of the man’s suffering is found in the way God is revealed through healing. This may not answer all our rational questions, but it gives us a definitive direction. In other words, look ahead, not in the rear-view mirror, for the connections that yield meaning. Then, as if to illustrate a point, rather like a busy Emergency Department doctor, Jesus heals him (thereby breaking the union rules by working on the Sabbath).
Jesus merges back into the crowd, hardly giving the man time to see him. However the people and then the authorities hear of the event. Some skeptics are not convinced it is the same individual they knew as the blind man who was hanging around the place. The parents are dragged into the controversy and, for fear of getting involved, disclaim any knowledge and leave their son to fend for himself – the first glimpse of the solitude which the man is being plunged into. Under questioning, the man holds his ground about the healing and is quickly condemned as a troublemaker, dismissed as someone ‘born in sin’. If you answer us like that (they are saying), being handicapped was your own fault and you don’t deserve to be healed. He was excommunicated. A good example of how often religious people don’t welcome the power of God meddling in their affairs. But Jesus hears of this and seeks him out.
The next level of meaning and intimacy in the story begins, as often with this healer of humanity, with a question. Jesus asks if he believes (has faith) in the Son of God. The man honestly replies, well I might if I knew who he was. Then, just as he did with the Samaritan woman, who was another outcast, Jesus simply identifies himself. You’re looking at him. The man spontaneously opened to faith, believed and bowed down in spirit.
In these few moves we have passed from a cure to a healing. The man crossed rapidly from a place of affliction through a testing of his character and the painful experience of exclusion and rejection into a life-transforming relationship of faith.
As the experience of silence and presence deepens over time, we might see the journey of meditation as taking us along the same trajectory, though probably less quickly.
Please click here to read previous entries, which began with Ash Wednesday.
We hope these readings will be an encouragement to start to make meditation a daily practice or, if it already is, then to deepen it by preparing for the times of meditation more carefully. The morning and evening meditations then become the true spiritual centre of your day. Here is the tradition, a very simple way of meditation, that we teach:
Sit down, Sit still with your back straight. Close your eyes lightly. Breathe normally. Silently, interiorly begin to repeat a single word, or mantra. We recommend the ancient prayer phrase ‘maranatha’. It is Aramaic (the language of Jesus) for ‘Come Lord’, but do not think of its meaning. The purpose of the mantra is to lay aside all thoughts, good, bad, or indifferent, together with images, plans, memories and fantasies. Say the word as four equal syllables: ma ran a tha. Listen to it as you repeat it and keep returning to it when you become distracted. Meditate for about twenty minutes each morning and evening. Meditating with others, as in a weekly group, is very helpful to developing this practice as part of your daily life.
2017 John Main Seminar
Go to our Events page for event brochure and to register!
August 10-13, 2017
“Praying with the Masters Today”
Presenter: Bernard McGinn, PhD
Pre-seminar Silent Retreat, August 7-10, 2017
led by Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB
“The Inner Room”
Location: University of St. Thomas
3800 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX 77006
Adults who practice Christian Meditation are inspired to share our way of prayer with others, including and especially with the children in their lives. From Florida to California, in Chicago and Phoenix, Houston and Virginia, children are learning how to meditate in the Christian tradition.
- Many meditating adults are teachers at private and parochial schools.
- Some volunteer at non-profits that serve families.
- Others are in the healthcare field at hospitals and other medical facilities. Some therapists and counselors teach Christian meditation to children.
- Christian summer camps introduce meditation to young campers.
- Religious education catechists from pre-school to high school are sharing the gift.
These dedicated adults see the value of Christian meditation in their own lives. They learned the practice on a retreat, at a seminar, in a local Christian meditation group. As the generosity of the Spirit expands in their hearts, they are moved to help children discover and experience this same Love that dwells within all of us. Children are very open to Christian meditation. They hunger for the silence and for relationship with God.
Perhaps you are in a position to teach Christian meditation to children, youth, or young adults. If you are interested in promoting the spiritual growth and mental health of the young people in your life, consider how you might share the gift with them. For more information, please contact us at email@example.com.
See Meditation with Children.
School of Meditation
Been meditating for awhile in our tradition and want to gather with others in community to deepen your practice? Read why one meditator loves our Essential Teaching Weekends……and then check the schedule on our Events page for upcoming dates. For free materials with which to introduce meditation in your community, see the School of Meditation website, and click on Resources tab.
Curious about our oblate program?
Want to know more about our Monastery Without Walls? How does our Benedictine background inform our present multi-denominational sense of community? See our Oblates page….
In a 12 Step program?
and want to connect with others who are and who meditate? See resources at our Meditation and 11th Step Practice page. Read how Christian meditation as we practice it underpins our approach to the 11th Step in this article, published in the Meditatio series, Meditation and Mental HealthArtwork Acknowledgements: The Butterfly photo is by e*3000; The Orchid photo is by n.zeissig; The Meditation Bowl is by teamaskins. All from Flickr, all are licensed under Creative Commons Use.