Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.
Christian meditation is not something new or a fad. Rather, it is a valued prayer form that goes back 1,700 or more years to the hermits in the deserts and is thus an important part of our Catholic Christian tradition.
Christian meditation has existed since the early days of the Church as one of three ways of praying: vocal, meditative and contemplative. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: "The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart's resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer.
However, Christian tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative.
They have one basic trait in common: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions intense times in the life of prayer" (CCC n. 2699).
Although Christian meditation looks superficially like Eastern meditation practices, there is one foundational difference: Christian meditation is always focused on God rather than on eliminating the consciousness of our "self." This is because Christian meditation is a method of prayer and prayer involves entering into a personal, real relationship with God.
Genuine Christian meditation thus helps a Christian to focus on God and to develop a closer, more intimate relationship with Him.
There are various ways of practising Christian meditation and many parishes in Ottawa have a Christian meditation group that meets regularly to learn this prayer method and to pray together.
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