Home' Aurora : Aurora August 2014 Contents SEASONS OF GRACE
Sometimes when I meet people for
the fir st time and they say, "Ah, Sister
Car mel, you meditate", I feel distinctly
confused. Do they think I am forever like
a tranquil lake? The community I am par t
of would definitely disagree. I disagree
too. Meditation is a journey inwards to
the divine indwelling, r ather than a resting
place. It is still and silent, ex teriorly, but
can lead to some very uncomfor table
places , interiorly.
Recently, I took par t in a pr ayer gathering
organised by Catholic Religious Australia
outside Villawood Detention Centre.
On the same day, religious Sister s and
Brother s gathered at each of the thir teen
detention centres established by the
Austr alian Gover nment in order to
protest against our country's inhuman
treatment of those seeking shelter here.
Some Sister s were holding a banner
which read, "In solidarity with your pain".
I thought of the words of Pope Francis at
Lampedusa , that we have forgotten how
to weep, we are no longer attentive to
the world in which we live, we don't care
-- and so humanity loses its bearings . The
result is tr agedy and desolation.
As I considered how to get rid of
the Herod factor in me ("It's not my
responsibility"), I thought of Mary at the
foot of the cross in solidarity with the
pain of her son. Mar y has a special place
deep in the Catholic psyche, especially
in times of suffering and, as we know,
"at the hour of our death". Multitudes of
paintings depict her in tear s on Calvar y
or with joy and tear s on her face after
the Resurrection. She hasn't forgotten
how to weep for the Body of Christ and
so she stands in solidarity with all who
Spiritual teacher s speak of meditation
a s a calming influence that doesn't stop
with me but leads me into my better
self and so makes me the creator of a
better futur e for other s. It's like a chain
reaction. In my experience, when we sit
A CHAIN REACTION:
MEDITATION IN A SUFFERING WORLD
CARMEL MOORE RSJ
to meditate, we are in the Spirit alongside
our brothers and sister s, in every par t of
Sisters gathered outside
Villawood Detention Centre in
solidarity with asylum seekers.
In the early days of the church, after the
time of the mar tyrs, many Christians
went into the deser t to demonstr ate the
absolute wholehear tedness of their faith
-- the same faith the mar tyrs had shown.
Their s was to be a white mar tyrdom
r ather than the r ed mar tyrdom of those
who gave their lives for their faith. They
did not go there to avoid people, but to
be one with them, to discover their true
self and to grow in loving relationships.
Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop
of Canterbury, makes this the main theme
of his book, Silence and Honey Cakes. The
aim of their lives of pr ayer was to be 'for
the neighbour ', 'to win the neighbour', to
lear n to live humanly with other s -- and in
the end to create a loving, non- exclusive
So the monasteries began -- lighthouses
in a bleak landscape -- centres of learning,
culture, community and pr ayer, keeping
alive the hope of a better life. Monks
weren't deser ting the world, with all
its needs, like men swimming from
a shipwreck; they were creating an
alternative and better environment, a city
of love. St Paul had given the direction :
"Do not be conformed to the world,
but be tr ansfor med by the renewing of
your minds ."
The twin goals of purity of mind and
compassion for the world's suffering are
the desire of many people who would
never see themselves as opting out of
society. It seems, now, that contemplative
life has escaped the monastic walls.
Ther e are far mor e people committed
to their times of daily pr ayer outside the
monasteries than in them. Perhaps this
has always been the case?
When we sit to meditate as a group,
we are in the company of those whose
sufferings we may never know, all kinds
of violence and all kinds of sor rows. I
remember a young lady who, on her fir st
visit to our Meditation Centre , said, "I
sat in the silence offering compassion to
my friend whose father died yesterday."
What a lovely example of that solidarity
we call the Communion of Saints. This is
a way back into our tr ue humanity, to be
able to weep again, to be attentive again,
Recently a couple of us visited Mums'
Cottage, a centre for Mother s
companioning Mothers, set up by Helen-
Anne Johnson rsj in Holmesville. We went
to teach meditation to some wonder ful
women. They were inspiring in their
strength in adversity, while continuing to
nur ture and ser ve their families. Sitting in
Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
that circle of silence wa s powerful for all
of us . It taught me that I don't always have
to know your pain in order to care for
you or help you find a better future.
To be in solidarity with the pain of other s
is why I meditate, so don't think of me as
sitting on cloud nine ! While the Buddhists
emphasise compassion, Christians phr ase
this slightly differently. For us, the jour ney
ends in divine love, pure love, practical
love, the love that feels your pain. In The
Joy of the Gospels, Pope Fr ancis wrote,
"the way to relate to other s which
truly heals us instead of debilitating us
is a mystical frater nity, a contemplative
fr aternity. It is a fr aternal love capable
of seeing the sacred grandeur of our
neighbour, of finding God in ever y human
being, of opening the hear t to divine love
and seeking the happiness of other s just
as their heavenly Father does."
Solidarity with the poor is the essential
mark of any real disciple of Christ. To
know Christ in meditation is one way to
become a disciple. Why not join in?
To learn more about meditation, E carmel.
email@example.com, P 0412 122 297 or
visit w w w.livingwatersmeditation.com.au.
Share your thoughts@auroramagazine
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