Christopher Mendonca, Times of India: Chanting of mantras and the practice of meditation are time-honoured traditions in oriental religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. But because of the universal validity of this practice, the Desert Fathers adopted it and made this the starting point for the “tradition of pure prayer” which they handed down within the Christian context.
Christians use the concept of chanting in a variety of ways in their prayer. The Divine Office or Prayer of the Church is a rhythmic recitation or singing of the Psalms in monastic communities.
The Rosary is the successive repetition of the ”Hail Mary”. But perhaps the most popular mantra used by Christians is “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. The Way of the Pilgrim is the story of a Russian pilgrim who learned the practice of the presence of God through the constant use of this mantra.
Eastern tradition of meditation helps the mind turn away from thoughts and images, to help achieve liberation. Similarly, the Christian tradition of pure prayer seeks to protect us from distraction, taking us to the inner silence of the heart where Christ prays in us through the Spirit.
For a Christian the practice of meditation is the practice of an ”awareness” of God in Christ. Equally, at the heart of the practice of Christian meditation is the essential onslaught on the ”ego” so that we may be completely free from its domination. Prophet Isaiah says (30:15): “In conversion and tranquillity lies your salvation”.
Conversion and inner silence are the essential ingredients of Christian meditation. Solitude is the place of conversion. It is not a private therapeutic place. Rather it is the place where the old self dies and the new self is born.
It is in Christian terms a death-resurrection experience, a participation in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus…