Thursday, July 12, 2012
Today I had the privilege to attend a conference on Christian Meditation at De La Salle-Taft with 9 faculty members and 20 student-members of the Veritas Parochial School Catholic Action organization. Entitled "The Power of Stillness and Silence", the conference (there were three, but we attended the one for educators)highlighted the experience of the Diocese of Townsville in Australia. Our resource speakers, Dr Cathy Day, Director of the Townsville Catholic Education Office, and Mr Ernie Christie, Deputy Director of the Catholic Education Office and a veteran Principal, walked us through the process, the power, the fruits and the benefits of practicing Christian Meditation in schools. The duo was joined later in the day by the Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, Fr. Laurence Freeman, OSB, and our very own Msgr. Manny Gabriel, also the Director of WCCM-Philippines. Implementing CM in Veritas is fairly easy. I imagine our Kindergartners--5-year-olds--sitting in a circle during their Center Time, eyes closed, sitting up straight, and saying 4 syllables in their head, over and over again for five minutes: MA-RA-NA-THA. I imagine the restless first graders,sitting still on their armchairs (a miracle!). I imagine the fourth graders, sitting quietly, respecting each other's space. I imagine the high schoolers-- de-stressing, letting go, finding a safe place. It isn't hard to imagine. But is it doable? Monday's frenetic schedule, the lunch hour crowd, the rush to the gym, endless meetings and practices, the exodus from classroom to school bus. It does get on everyone's nerves--teachers' nerves, especially. That is why I believe that for CM to be successful in all our classrooms, this "Prayer of the Heart" should first be launched in the hearts of Veritas educators. We must all believe that Silence, Stillness, and Simplicity CAN AND MUST HAPPEN in our school NOW. I believe that this is the best way to address the bully-problem, the short attention-span-problem, and other issues related to undesirable behavior and poor academic performance. But these are just the "benefits", as Mr Christie reminded us. It is the "fruits" that are worth harvesting from the CM experience. Patience. Kindness. Self-control. Love. These and the other fruits are developed through consistent and devoted practice of CM. Most importantly, we are assured of young people whose spiritual lives are nourished through that stillness and closeness to God. This has to be a WAY OF LIVING OUR FAITH--Christian Living in a very personal sense. It should permeate everything that we do as a school, where we hope we could all be kinder, gentler and more loving of each other.