“The way of meditation is open to everyone because everyone is graced by this spirit of wholeness. Every human being is equal on the path of meditation and every human being is called to completeness.” So said Laurence Freeman OSB , Director of The World Community for Christian Meditation. He recently addressed a large gathering, including a number of Jesuits, at an international conference in TCD hosted by The Loyola Institute Trinity College. The theme of the conference was “A Hunger for Depth and Meaning”.
Trinity College Dublin was the alma mater of John Main, (1926-1982), the great proponent of Christian meditation, and the conference was held in honour of his life and teaching. Main was born in London and came to Dublin in the ’50’s to join his family who had moved there from England. He spent a number of years in Trinity studying law. He left for a short while only to return to the college in 1956, when he began lecturing in the subject. In 1959 he decided to join the Benedictines. As a monk he discovered the practice of meditation in his own Christian tradition, and dedicated the rest of his life to restoring it as a form of prayer in the heart of the Church. Today Main is widely regarded as a modern spiritual master.
According to the World Community of Christian Meditation who organised the conference along with the Loyola Institute, TCD, and Christian Meditation Ireland, “John Main believed that the contemplative experience creates community. His genius was to recover and to re-present a way into this experience for ordinary people from within the Christian contemplative tradition. In the teaching of the desert monks on pure prayer he found the practice of the mantra. Realising that this way of prayer could further the search of many modern people for a deeper spiritual life, he recommended two regular daily periods of meditation to be integrated with the usual practices of Christian life.”
Various speakers stressed how the practice of mediation was very much part of the Christian prayer tradition, citing among others, the work of the Desert Fathers, Catherine of Sienna, Thomas Merton, and of course John Main himself.
Contributors included Professor Bernard McGinn ( University of Chicago) who is widely regarded as the preeminent scholar of mysticism in the Western Christian tradition and Dr Mary O’Driscoll (Gregorian University and Angelicum University in Rome).
Reflecting on the significance of the conference Dr Con Casey of the Loyola Institute, Trinity College Dublin said “Unless Church can find it contemplative dimension the institutional dimension tends to dominate to the detriment of the health of the whole Church.”