Meditation is a practice found in all the great religions. As such, it offers an important common ground for inter-religious dialog and a basis for peace in the world. Many Christians have been helped to recover contact with their own tradition of meditation, or contemplative prayer, because of the work of Father John Main , whose work is continued around the globe by the World Community for Christian Meditation .
On May 15th, the U.R.C. Church in Windsor Place, Cardiff, will host a taster session (11 am – 2pm). Liz Watson, national UK co-ordinator for the WCCM , will explain the simplicity of Christian meditation and lead a gentle introductory session. There will also be the option of six weekly follow-up sessions, to help launch you on a very enriching focus for whatever your prayer preference is.
John Main became a Benedictine monk after serving with the Foreign Office in Malaysia, where he had learned to meditate in the way practiced by Eastern religions. Under obedience in the monastery, he was told not to continue with the meditation technique he had learnt. He complied.
In his training as a monk, Main discovered the history of John Cassian (AD 360-435). Cassian, who was from Romania, travelled from his homeland along the Mediterranean coast, passing through the Middle East, coming into contact with the desert monks and their prayer methods. He passed across Northern Africa and eventually established monasteries in Gaul — now Southern France. Benedict of Nursia was greatly influenced by Cassian in establishing monastic orders, giving rise to the Rule of Benedict. In this way, Cassian brought an Eastern Christian tradition of meditation into the West. Other Christian traditions, such as the Carmelites, also recognise this contemplative approach to prayer. Common to the ideas of east and west is the importance of daily dedicated times of being still — to make space for God to come into busy lives.
Encouraged by finding that meditation was not alien to the Christian tradition, John Main saw the need for this discipline to be offered as a focal point for lay peoples’ spiritual growth. Father John Main and Father Lawrence Freeman were invited by the Cardinal Archbishop of Montreal to establish a meditation community for lay people in Canada. Since Father John’s death in 1982, Father Lawrence has become international director of the World Community for Christian Meditation. The organisation has spread to North and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe (East and West). A south-east Wales group meets in Roath and can be found on Facebook.
Visiting speaker Liz Watson will be interviewed and appear on Radio Wales’s All Things Considered programme on May 9th.