Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God

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Harper Collins, Oct 13, 2009 - Religion - 304 pages
2 Reviews

Enter a Monastery Without Walls

Christian Meditation introduces an ancient practice to a contemporary audience. James Finley, a former monk and student of Thomas Merton, presents the fundamentals of both understanding and practicing Christian meditation. He provides simple, helpful instructions, as well as explaining the deeper connection with the divine that meditation can bring. Above all, he makes clear that the aim of meditation is to allow us to experience divine contemplation -- the presence of God.

 

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION

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Finley, a former Trappist monk and student of Thomas Merton, has written a very fine study of the practice of Christian meditation, considering--among many other matters--the importance of simple ... Read full review

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I am sorry that the previous reviewer only gave this wonderful book a one star review - I think that it may have been due to a misunderstanding of what christian/contemplative prayer is about.
To
be a Christian means that we have accepted the idea that God - creator of all that exists - decided to take on human form (as Jesus -complete with all the limitations that entails) to demonstrate how we humans are to live our lives,to think about God, ourselves and others. By his death and resurrection - to open a way for sinful man to become the sons and daughters of God - not just after death but here and now.
Being a Christian also calls us to try to (sort of) grasp the concept of a Triune God - One God in three persons - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Christians are followers of Jesus Christ and we have been left many tools to help us on our journey - the Holy Spirit, scripture, the church, each other and of course prayer!
It is under the very large topic of christian prayer that this book falls.
There are many forms of prayer - there is the formal prayer of church liturgy, the prayer of reading - then speaking scripture, the prayers of a charismatic believer (the meaning of their words only known to God), the faltering prayers of a child, or the deep and anguished cry of one who is experiencing profound loss - a prayer expressed only in sobs of grief - all of these are legitimate forms of prayer - and God has assured us that all will be heard.
Many of us today find our prayer life revolving around petitions - and there are a lot of them!
There are those who need healing, financial help, a husband,a wife, a child - on and on the list goes - and this too is prayer - also heard by God - although often the "answers" don't always make much sense to us!
At the beginning of his book "Christian Meditation" - James Finely talks about his use of words that describe prayer and states that while he is using the word "meditation"- a generation ago this would have been understood as contemplative prayer.
Contemplative prayer is a different "type' of prayer - in it we do not ask anything except to sit at Jesus's feet - like Mary in the parable.
It is prayer "beyond words" - but before you write me off as a "new age wacko" think about times in your life - where your experience of God has left you "gob smacked" - things like: a baby being born, a piece of music so beautiful it brings you to tears, a sunset, a forest, an ocean, a miracle you never expected or had faithfully prayed for - over decades.
. In all of these events there is a sudden flash of God's greatness and tender love - a feeling of such joy and wonder overtakes us - we know without a doubt that the veil has been pulled back a bit - we have experienced God in a way that we have not before - and if we could stay right there - in that moment- we would stay for all eternity.
But do we have words to express or explain this experience?
Not likely - and this is the same difficulty Christian Mystics have encountered over the ages.
The history of Christianity is a history of people trying (or not trying) to hear Gods voice and live lives which are pleasing to Him - in the 2000 years of that history there have been amazing saints and sadly - amazing sinners too - but in the written record they have left us there have been some who are referred to as "mystics".
These are men and women who speak of a first hand "contact" with God - and who have left behind a pretty confusing written record of their experiences.
But just when you are ready to write them off as mad men - you bump into their biographies - and you realize that there has to be truth in their writings because these people had become Christ's hands and feet on earth in very profound ways- in ways that could leave no doubt who they were getting their marching orders from!
The reason the Mystics are called Mystics is because their path is not always easily understood
 

Contents

Divine Destination
1
Learning to Meditate
22
Meditative Experience
42
A Ladder to Heaven
72
A Monastery Without Walls
101
The SelfTransforming Journey
130
Entering the Mind of Christ
175
Present Open and Awake
203
Sit Still
216
Sit Straight
229
Slow Deep Natural Breathing
242
Eyes Closed or Lowered Toward the Ground
253
Walking Meditation
266
Compassion
278
Notes
287
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

James Finley is a former Trappist monk who studied closely with Thomas Merton. He is the author of Thomas Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. He is now a renowned psychological and spiritual counselor in Santa Monica, CA, who leads retreats and workshops on a regular basis throughout North America.

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