2. The Spirituality of the Mantra

Published on Kung Kao Po, Chinese Catholic Weekly, on 12th July, 2020

The Mantra belongs to the Sanskrit language whose meaning is “something that purifies our mind”. The Desert Father, John Cassian, who advocated this short prayer phrase, called it “a formula “whereas John Main OSB, the Master of Christian Meditation named this prayer “a mantra”.

It was based on the early church’s views regarding the virtues of repentance and humility necessary for the growth of spirituality, believing that the emotions of being self-centered quite often caused obstacles to our further growth.

Praktikos Evagrius, a most outstanding Desert Father in the 4th Century, as well as Cassian’s teacher, considered that the devils in our heart would make us only beware of the desires of being self-centered in our materialistic world. He indicated we should pray first, opening up ourselves to welcome the salvation of Christ.

During the period when we meditate using our mantra, we come to self-knowledge through the deep observation of our mind, noticing our previously unaccomplished needs and impure desires.

The aim of practicing meditation by our mantra is not to abandon our ego. it is letting our `ego’ open up itself for the powerful healing from the Holy Spirit so that we can come into contact with God who dwells in our innermost being.

The mantra `Maranatha’ is a spirituality that continues the search of self-knowledge as described above, entreating the healing of the Lord. it is a key of contemplative prayer for the contemporary Christians. ‘Maranatha’ is in Aramaic, the language spoken in the time of Jesus. It is a sacred prayer word which is free of language associations, diminishing links with images and words; in the state of silence and stillness, we repeat continuously the mantra with a sharp focus on “ Come Lord Jesus” (refer to Rev 22:12, Luke21:28, John 14:1, Acts 1”10-11).

The mantra purifies our improper desires in our heart, leading to the integration of our heart and spirit to poverty. Naturally it brings our return to God, the source and the goal of life.

Using the mantra “Maranatha” also reminds me of a holy card I had as a child. Jesus is standing outside a door without a handle. He knocks and asks to be invited in, since the handle is on the inside. When we repeat this mantra, we are constantly inviting Jesus, the source of love, to enter our hearts.

by Lina Lee, Hon Member, The World Community for Christian Meditation (Hong Kong)

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