Laurence Freeman OSB.
Convivium Press/Alban Books, 2012.

How we pray is how we live. When meditation ceases to be a technique and becomes a way of life, everything we do is permeated by the teaching of Jesus. Freeman describes how, out of meditation, “a contemplative Christianity will join other faiths as a mediator of compassionate action and healing wisdom to the world.”“In this state the centre of consciousness no longer resides in the ego. From the deeper centre of the true self, we are conscious of union with others. ..There are not many gods but one God, not many selves but one Self, one true I Am in which all beings share in Being”.This booklet (75 pages) provides a succinct guide to the practice and benefits of Christian meditation. The technique could not be simpler. It consists of sitting upright, eyes closed and repeating in the mind a ‘mantra’ or prayer word. This interior repetition helps bring the distracted mind to stillness, silence and attentiveness to the presence of God within us. That is enough.

Laurence Freeman worked closely with John Main in setting up the first weekly meditation groups for lay people. A distinguished spiritual leader and proponent of peace and interfaith dialogue, he is director of The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM). The second half of the 20th century saw a significant shift in the spiritual landscape of Christianity, as the Benedictine monk John Main laid vigorous claim to the ancient practice of Christian meditation. He believed that the great social and psychological distresses of modern society demand a deep contemplative response. He saw in the desert tradition of meditation a way to the stillness, that “pure prayer” which will enable us to answer Christ’s unceasing question, “Who do you say I am?”

There is no substitute for actually praying, yet it is encouraging to read occasionally about prayer. Our own prayer may seem fuzzy and unfocused; then along comes someone who offers us a good map, and off we go again on our pilgrim path. Freeman provides such a map.

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Review by Helen Gallivan