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John Main DayDecember 30
By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Benedictine monk John Main (1926 - 1982) died on this day at the age of 56. He became a Catholic monk after serving in the Far East with the British colonial service and lecturing in international law at Trinity College in Dublin. Main founded the Benedictine Priory of Montreal and established a community linked through the daily practice of meditation. Since his death, a worldwide communion of meditators, groups, and centers have come into being based on his ministry and vision.
Benedictine monk Bede Griffiths said of Main's writings: "I do not know of any better method of meditation leading to the experience of the love of God in Christ." Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams saluted him for "a taste of what a committed contemplative church might look and feel like."
Main offered a variety of definitions of Christian meditation. He sees it as a way of being awake and fully alive; a pilgrimage to our center, our heart; and a practice that enables us "to root ourselves in the spiritual reality of God."
To Name This Day . . .
Read: Silence and Stillness in Every Season: Daily Readings with John Main by Paul Harris is a perfect companion for Christian meditators with its daily gift of inspiration and encouragement.
Read: John Main: Selected Writings by John Main and Laurence Freeman offers a rich and diverse overview of his life and writings along with a special section on 100 of his sayings on prayer, God, love, and more.
Ponder: "Silence gives our spirit room to breathe, room to be. You discover in the silence that you love and that you are lovable. It is this discovery that everyone must make in their lives if they are going to become fully themselves, fully human."
Main believed in the rigors of a twice-a-day meditation practice using the mantra "maranatha" which means "Come, Lord." He wrote: "Saying the mantra is like dropping anchor; it falls into the depth of our being." This daily practice leads to body stillness ("an outward sign of an inward stillness") and silence ("the language of the spirit"). He writes more on the mantra:
"The essence, the art of saying the mantra, is to say it, sound it, listen to it, and just ignore the distractions. Give primacy to the mantra above all else. Gradually, as you persevere in saying the mantra, distractions do become less and less of a reality. My teacher used to say that the first three aims that you have when you begin to meditate are these: first of all, just to say the mantra for the full period of your meditation. That's your first goal and that might take a year; it might take ten years. The second goal is to say your mantra and be perfectly calm in the face of all distractions that come. And the third preliminary aim is to say the mantra for the full time of your meditation with no distractions."
Read more about the method of meditation taught by John Main, which is carried on by Laurence Freeman and The World Community for Christian Meditation, here.