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  #1  
Old Mar 10, '05, 7:28 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

I am a big believer in the power of prayer, and I pray every chance I get. But when I'm told to meditate, I still don't know 'how' to meditate the Catholic way.

According to the CCC 2705-2706

Catholic "Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking ... To the extent that we are humble and faithful. We discover in meditation the movements that stir the heart and we are able to discern them. It is a question of acting truthfully in order to come into the light: "Lord what do you want me to do?"

It's a bit vague: While the CCC describes what Catholic meditation is, it does not teach 'how' to do it.

Since Buddhism actually teaches 'how' to meditate (resulting in a measured increase of alpha waves), then does anyone know the Catholic method of meditation?
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  #2  
Old Mar 10, '05, 7:40 pm
Tyler Smedley Tyler Smedley is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

First it might be best to know what type of meditation you are engaged in, for instance meditation has one focus when in reguards to the rosary and another in reguards to scripture.

WIth reguards to the rosary meditate, (think about) the mysteries, the meaning behind them, there significance in the life of Christ, the importantce to the Church, etc....

If you are meditating on scripture it is best to read it several times, thinking about the meaning, the significance how it might apply to your life, etc....

I usually meditate upon what my struggles and trials, how I might turn my life closer to Christ. Also because I am discerning the priesthood, I meditate about Gods call in my life. I hope that this helped and that if you have any questions that you would e-mail or PM me. Peace!
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  #3  
Old Mar 10, '05, 7:46 pm
serendipity serendipity is offline
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Question Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Do you mean as in emptying the mind? Or an issue of contemplations rather than meditation? I'm not very good with the terminology. But it sounds like you are looking for information on centering and not deliberately focusing on images...am I right?
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  #4  
Old Mar 10, '05, 7:53 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by serendipity
Do you mean as in emptying the mind? Or an issue of contemplations rather than meditation? I'm not very good with the terminology. But it sounds like you are looking for information on centering and not deliberately focusing on images...am I right?
Something that is more functional than simply getting lost in thought or brooding, or thinking hard over a problem.

Is Catholic meditation supposed to be similar to thinking hard as if playing a game of chess, or is there a methodology as taught in Eastern meditative techniques?

I tend to separate praying from meditation, since a lot of the Catholic literature intructs to meditate in absence of praying. So how do I meditate in the Catholic fashion?
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  #5  
Old Mar 10, '05, 8:46 pm
jeffreedy789 jeffreedy789 is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

couple answers for ya:

one, the spiritual exercises of ignatius of loyola teach you how to meditate on scripture - placing yourself into a Bible story, and allowing God to speak to you from it. you can find these exercises by putting 'spiritual exercises of st ignatius' into google.

two - i would recommend reading 'armchair mystic' by mark thibodeaux. very good book on learning catholic meditation.
three (ok, i said a couple. so what?) - there's nothing wrong with using zen meditation, as long as you direct it toward something - usually toward scripture. zen is just a way of calming the body and putting away distractions. buddhists use it to clear the mind and leave it empty - which can be dangerous. catholics can use it to clear the mind - and then fill it with something worthwhile - like Jesus.

may God bless you as you seek Him in meditation.

ps - another good resource to learn about christian meditation is a GREAT book called 'celebration of discipline' by richard foster. foster is quaker in origin, but was instrumental in my becoming catholic. he has a different chapter on each of the disciplines, like fasting, and prayer, and Bible study. his chapter on meditation is excellent.
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  #6  
Old Mar 11, '05, 3:36 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreedy789
couple answers for ya:

one, the spiritual exercises of ignatius of loyola teach you how to meditate on scripture - placing yourself into a Bible story, and allowing God to speak to you from it. you can find these exercises by putting 'spiritual exercises of st ignatius' into google.

two - i would recommend reading 'armchair mystic' by mark thibodeaux. very good book on learning catholic meditation.
three (ok, i said a couple. so what?) - there's nothing wrong with using zen meditation, as long as you direct it toward something - usually toward scripture. zen is just a way of calming the body and putting away distractions. buddhists use it to clear the mind and leave it empty - which can be dangerous. catholics can use it to clear the mind - and then fill it with something worthwhile - like Jesus.

may God bless you as you seek Him in meditation.

ps - another good resource to learn about christian meditation is a GREAT book called 'celebration of discipline' by richard foster. foster is quaker in origin, but was instrumental in my becoming catholic. he has a different chapter on each of the disciplines, like fasting, and prayer, and Bible study. his chapter on meditation is excellent.
Thank you for this information.

But to let you know, on the Asian mainland Zen, (or Ch'an in Chinese and Son in Korea), is simply a mental exercise using a Koan or Koang as a short-cut to enlightenment rather than the time consuming method of studying the sutras.

ONLY in Japan has Zen become a religion in and of itself.

As a devout Roman Catholic, my practice of Yoga and Zen has never caused me to doubt my Christian convictions. But what I have observed is that the Buddhists have almost perfected the art of meditation while the Christians have done the same for prayer. The Buddhists seem to have overlapped their praying onto meditation and the Christians have done similar extending praying into their meditation.

But I want to discern a distinction between Catholic praying and Catholic meditation. Again, thanks for this information.
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  #7  
Old Mar 11, '05, 10:57 pm
SeattlePapist SeattlePapist is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

I recently found an excellent book on Christian meditation at Boarders Books by a man who studied under Thomas Merton: "Christian Meditation Experiencing the Presence of God." by James Finley. Fr. Anthony De Mello S.J. "Sadhana A Way to God, Christian Excercises in Eastern Form" is also excellent. Both are packed with practical advice and creative ideas yet well grounded in worship of our dear Lord.

These men showed me how to approach meditation in ways that are rooted in Christian tradition so I can have confidence that my efforts are drawing me nearer to Jesus and not to the enemy.
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  #8  
Old Mar 11, '05, 11:22 pm
jeffreedy789 jeffreedy789 is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

my understanding is that the two (prayer and meditation) are very overlapping - one could even say that meditation is a FORM of prayer. perhaps drawing too sharp of a distinction creates a false dichotomy.

just a thought.
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  #9  
Old Mar 12, '05, 7:44 am
SeattlePapist SeattlePapist is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

In "Christian Meditation" James Findley uses the term Discursive Meditation to refer to meditation that uses thoughts and images. He distinguishes Discursive Meditation from Meditation used to "...open oneself to a direct experience of oneness with the sacred mystery that permeates all of reality."

Certainly both of these types of meditation are forms of prayer.
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  #10  
Old Mar 12, '05, 1:52 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeattlePapist
In "Christian Meditation" James Findley uses the term Discursive Meditation to refer to meditation that uses thoughts and images. He distinguishes Discursive Meditation from Meditation used to "...open oneself to a direct experience of oneness with the sacred mystery that permeates all of reality."

Certainly both of these types of meditation are forms of prayer.
Because I have an extensive background in the Asian martial arts, I have vigorously researched the history and methodology of Eastern religions and their meditative techniques, including college courses and classes on Yoga and Zen meditation and the meditation taught in my various Judo, Karate, and Jiu-Jitsu courses.

I have observed that the Easterners have almost perfected the art of meditation while Roman Catholics have just about perfected the art of prayer. Yet the Eastern religions tend to describe their praying in terms of meditation and Roman Catholicism tends to describe meditation as if it were praying. Each demonstrating their strength and weaknesses in each discipline.

On my own initiative, I have thought of a way of merging Eastern meditative technique into Roman Catholic meditative technique, yet I lack a full understanding of what the Church expects out of Catholic meditation.

From my little readings on Fr. Thomas Merton, he was also attempting an assimilaton of Eastern meditative practices into Catholic meditative practices. So far I don't agree that Fr. Merton has succeeded in developing a pragmatic method of Catholic meditation technique that is original, effective, and conforms to the C.C.C.'s definition of meditation, vague as it is.

But I must read more of Fr. Thomas Merton's work before I dismiss any possiblity of failure, or just a different method which I do no recognize.
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  #11  
Old Mar 12, '05, 2:07 pm
Genesis315 Genesis315 is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

I always thought prayer was directed to someone (God, Jesus, Mary, a saint, etc, etc) while meditation was more of an inward pondering of certain truths. So prayer would be more external, while meditation is more internal. Like for the Rosary, I pray the Hail Marys to Mary, while I ponder the mysteries internally.
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  #12  
Old Mar 12, '05, 2:08 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreedy789
my understanding is that the two (prayer and meditation) are very overlapping - one could even say that meditation is a FORM of prayer. perhaps drawing too sharp of a distinction creates a false dichotomy.

just a thought.
Yes, that tends to be the way the Tibetan Buddhist Monks view prayer and meditation, almost one in the same. That is why they chant a Mantra in a low deep voice in unison, it produces a melodic and hypnotic effect which produces a calming and centering sense in the body (lots of sustained alpha waves ). Yet the Tibetan monks also use 'prayer wheels' instead of emphasizing spoken prayers. Mongolian Buddhists are heavily influenced by Tibetian Buddhism and practice it virtually the same.

Now compare this to the Buddhist monks of Vietnam or Cambodia. Both Tibetan and South East Asian monks tend to be Hinayana Buddhists meaning they do not meditate in the Zen sense, which would help to explain why they tend to use meditation as prayer (and not prayer wheels at all).

Yet the Mahayana Buddhists of China, Korea, and Japan all use the big wooden prayer beads AND meditation techniques without the group low voiced chanting found in the religious of the high himalayas. Indicating the separation of meditation from prayer in these practices.

I took several courses as an undergraduate (1980-1984) and a few more as a graduate student (1987-1989) on Eastern philosophy and history (I should have taken theology, but studied it on my own). You too might want to take courses on Mahayana & Hinayana Buddhism, then Taoism, then Confucianism to develop a strong sense of the difference.

Then take a second look at the differences & purposes of prayer and meditation both East & West, and try to find a commonality which can be applied to Catholic meditation which is original, effective, and conforms to the C.C.C. definition of meditation (however nebulous).
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  #13  
Old Mar 12, '05, 5:28 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Genesis315
I always thought prayer was directed to someone (God, Jesus, Mary, a saint, etc, etc) while meditation was more of an inward pondering of certain truths. So prayer would be more external, while meditation is more internal. Like for the Rosary, I pray the Hail Marys to Mary, while I ponder the mysteries internally.
Yes, that is how I was taught. Prayer and meditation are two different things and serve two different purposes.

I know how to pray in the Catholic tradition. But how does one meditate in the Catholic tradition? Just think deep thoughts?

I was wondering if there is a technique or methodology that could be applied to the Catholic practice of "inward pondering of certain truths"? (Though I really like that definition! ).
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  #14  
Old Mar 12, '05, 5:57 pm
flick427 flick427 is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Walker
Something that is more functional than simply getting lost in thought or brooding, or thinking hard over a problem.

Is Catholic meditation supposed to be similar to thinking hard as if playing a game of chess, or is there a methodology as taught in Eastern meditative techniques?

I tend to separate praying from meditation, since a lot of the Catholic literature intructs to meditate in absence of praying. So how do I meditate in the Catholic fashion?
I have to be honest here, I would look into books on mental prayer for a good answer, you are not going to get a very good answer here because there isn't really enough space to exlplain it.
Yes, Catholic meditation is sometimes "thinking hard", but sometimes it is something as simple as thanking God, praising Him (like if you were to recite the "Glory Be..." in honor of the Blessed Trinity several times a day) Also, a simple thought or "contemplation" about God is a mental prayer and meditation...you can meditate on Jesus' sufferings and life with Mary while praying the Rosary, or even when you are not doing formal prayer...also when you think of someone you love you are medatating too...if you were to have a wife, or new baby, since you love them, you may just simply spend your day thinking about them and how cute or innocent the baby is or how pretty or loving your wife is towards you and how much you love her...it is very similar to this, yet with Jesus it turns to adoration, since He is our final end to everything and the only one who can completely fufill this...
I hope this helps, and if you want, I have been recommenging a book to people called "The Ways of Mental Prayer" on www.tanbooks.com and don't forget the works of St. Therese, St. John of the Cross etc...they are doctors of the Church and very good at this meditation...St. John of the Cross is probably the hardest to understand, but St. Theres the Little Flower puts it simple...
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  #15  
Old Mar 12, '05, 6:15 pm
Kevin Walker Kevin Walker is offline
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Default Re: How does Catholic meditation work, (not prayers.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by flick427
I have to be honest here, I would look into books on mental prayer for a good answer, you are not going to get a very good answer here because there isn't really enough space to exlplain it.
Yes, Catholic meditation is sometimes "thinking hard", but sometimes it is something as simple as thanking God, praising Him (like if you were to recite the "Glory Be..." in honor of the Blessed Trinity several times a day) Also, a simple thought or "contemplation" about God is a mental prayer and meditation...you can meditate on Jesus' sufferings and life with Mary while praying the Rosary, or even when you are not doing formal prayer...also when you think of someone you love you are medatating too...if you were to have a wife, or new baby, since you love them, you may just simply spend your day thinking about them and how cute or innocent the baby is or how pretty or loving your wife is towards you and how much you love her...it is very similar to this, yet with Jesus it turns to adoration, since He is our final end to everything and the only one who can completely fufill this...
I hope this helps, and if you want, I have been recommenging a book to people called "The Ways of Mental Prayer" on www.tanbooks.com and don't forget the works of St. Therese, St. John of the Cross etc...they are doctors of the Church and very good at this meditation...St. John of the Cross is probably the hardest to understand, but St. Theres the Little Flower puts it simple...
Many thanks for this information. Especially the Tan website. I was highly recommended the Tan edition of the Douay-Rheims Bible, which I've been searching. I'll give this a try.

But, I want to be able to meditate independent of praying. I pray quite often, and as I was taught, praying is directed towards someone while meditation is something else. The catechism defines Catholic meditation as a "Quest"; but doesn't say how one achieves that quest. Your information should help - thanks again.
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