KATE OLSON: Mt. Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, widely known as the home to the spectacular Acadia National Park. Here, at St. Andrew by the Lake Episcopal Church, a community of spiritual seekers gathered recently to hear about the Christian practice of contemplation from Martin Laird.
LAIRD: Listening to the account of Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Evagrius observed something about Jesus, that Jesus avoided getting caught up in any sort of conversation with Satan. Jesus broke the cycle of inner chatter by a word from Scripture.
OLSON: Early Christian contemplatives known as the desert fathers and mothers, followed Jesus’ example and quoted passages from scripture, even the simple name of Jesus, to break free of the snare of thoughts and enter into silent prayer.
LAIRD: “No thought can capture God,” St. Gregory of N[y]ssa says, “If you form a concept of God, you’ve made an idol of God.” St. Augustine says, “If you think you have understood God, you may be sure it was not God you understood.” And so in the deeper levels of the practice of contemplation, you are even letting go of holy pious thoughts.
OLSON: Laird now teaches at Villanova University near Philadelphia, which was founded by the Augustinians in 1842. For the past ten years, he has taught a course on the classical Christian texts and practice of silent prayer and meditation. In his course, Laird offers what he calls a “lab” to his students. Each class begins with 15 minutes of silence, and he asks his students to spend ten minutes a day in silent meditation outside of class.
The day we visited, Laird was reviewing what the students had learned about quieting the inner chatter in their minds, and dealing with distractions around them, such as the construction noise outside their classroom window.
Fr. Laird himself is Catholic.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 11:41:42 AM by Jetavan »
If you will, you can become all flame.
Extra caritatem nulla salus.
In order to become whole, take the "I" out of "holiness".
Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας
"Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is." -- Mohandas Gandhi
Y dduw bo'r diolch.