What Catholic Meditation and Mental Prayer is Not:
Often Catholics ask, “are we allowed to Meditate?” or “Is Meditation dangerous to a Catholic?” Here are some meditation techniques that should be avoided by all Catholics.
You will recognise these by knowing what Catholic Meditation is NOT.
It is not transcendental meditation which uses a one word mantra repeated over and over again in order to subdue the thoughts. In the first place this type of meditation is New Age and secondly it is badly copied from Hindu culture. This, of course, renders it totally inappropriate for Christian use.
It is not meditation to relax you. The purpose is not to lull you to sleep or rid you of anxiety. Although it may well have this side-effect on you this is not the goal. If a mediative practice advertises this – best to avoid it.
It is not to give you confidence. The purpose is not to fill you with grandiose ideas about yourself. Rather the opposite is the intention because meeting God we realise how dependant we are on Him.
It is not Centering prayer. Centering prayer has recently become popular in some Catholic circles but has been identified as ‘dangerous’ in other Catholic groups. This is because the ‘finding of oneself within’ and a ‘sense of the other’ is taken from Buddhist philosophy. It’s the ‘other’ that is the problem.
It is not that pretty Christian prayer that tells God all about Himself so that those who are listening learn something about Him. Found on youtube and podcasts, it goes something like this: “Lord you made us. Lord you know each of us by name. Lord you knew us before you form us in the womb.” All very true but it is not Catholic Mental Prayer.
Catholic Meditation and Mental Prayer are a far cry from any of the above.
Catholic saints tell us that mental prayer is like a mirror in which we see the stains of our soul. St Teresa says
“Although it appears to us that we have no imperfections, still when God opens the eyes of the soul, as He usually does in prayer, our imperfections are then clearly seen.”