Sr Madeleine Simon RSCJ explains,
“Our set purpose must be to help the children build a loving relationship with Jesus in the flesh and bring them to this same Jesus, present with us now in the Spirit.”
Born Contemplative, p58.
The basis of Christian Meditation is rooted in the theology of the Christian Tradition.
By allowing children to experience Christian Meditation for themselves, John Main believed they would discover their true selves in their “real participation in the reality of God.” (The Present Christ, p295)
Meditation will help children and young people enter into the mystery of the sacred, the heart of true faith.
Meditation itself is a way of faith that influences every aspect of life.
According to scholar James Fowler, who studied the stages of faith development, “faith is deeper and more personal than religion”.
What does this mean? Wilfred Cantwell Smith, a religious scholar, explains that religion is usually associated with the traditions and doctrines of individual churches. Faith may be nourished by religious doctrine, but faith
“is a quality of the person not of the system. It is an orientation of the personality to oneself, to one’s neighbour, to the universe; a total response; a way of seeing whatever one sees and of handling whatever one handles; a capacity to live at more than a mundane level; to see, to feel, to act, in terms of a transcendent dimension.”
Faith and Belief, p12
So, Faith is not the same as religion (a system of doctrines and dogmas). Nor is it the same as belief (the holding of certain ideas or concepts). Instead, true faith involves an alignment of the heart. Sraddha, which is the Hindu word for faith, means ‘to set one’s heart on'. Credo, which is traditionally translated as ‘I believe’, is really from a Latin compound - derivative cor or cordia, meaning ‘heart'.
So how can we define faith?
“Above all,” St. Symeon the New Theologian once wrote, “faith is attainment of [the] invisible treasure of the knowledge of Christ.” True faith is affective, not merely intellectual. As Fowler states, “faith is a verb; it is an active mode of being and committing, a way of moving into and giving shape to our experiences of life...Faith is always relational; there is always another in faith. ‘ I trust in and am loyal to ...someone.’” (Stages of Faith, p16)
True faith is both a knowing and a mystery. According to Catherine Stonehouse, “faith is the deeply felt assurance of God’s faithfulness and power.” (p146)
Faith is not static or passive. Rather it is an active way of being, “a personal adherence of the whole person to God who reveals himself.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #176)
Furthermore, faith is a way of seeing. People of faith ‘see’ realities that are invisible. They embrace something that cannot be contained or fully explained with words. They listen, not to the noise of daily life, but to the Word that comes to them in silence. That is why St Augustine once wrote, “The whole purpose of this life is to restore to health, the eye of the heart by which God may be seen.” John Main put it yet another way. True faith is about:
“...opening our eyes to the larger reality that is revealed in Jesus who reveals to us the Father. Our eyes are taken off ourselves. When we meditate we are not concerned with ourselves, with our own perfection or our own wisdom or even our own happiness. Our eyes are fixed on Jesus and we receive from him everything, literally everything.”
Moment of Christ, p184