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Book Review: Word Into Silence by John Main

by Peter Menkin  
1/18/2009 / Book Reviews

So much said in just 81 pages: prayer, God, silence

The title intrigues me, as does this book by Dom John Main, OSB. The writer, a monk, is telling us about using a word as a prayer to bring us to silence inside that we allow us to pursue and find God. If you are Christocentric, as am I, you will find this a seminal book, so clearly written on meditation and taking ones life into the realms of relationship with God throughout the day.

Not so much a how-to book as a book on practice, this quote from the beginning of "Word into Silence" gives a summary and authority to the belief we can come to the Lord: It is from Chapter 5 of Paul's letter to the Romans:

"Therefore, now that we have been justified through faith, let us continue at peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom we have been allowed to enter the sphere of God's grace, where we now stand. Let us exult in the hope of the divine splendour that is to be ours...because God's love has flooded our inmost heart through the Holy Spirit He has given us."
So much said in just 81 pages: prayer, God, silence

The "teacher" (something to call Dom Main as realized by this book), makes as his premise this straightforward, sound statement: "What emerges so triumphantly from the teaching of Jesus, and from the understanding of that teaching by the early Church, is that this Life and this Light are quite literaally to be found within each of us."

Interested in the Benedictine way? Want to know about mystical and religious ways? Desire to have a prayer life? Keen on developing the rhythms in your day, and filling yourself with the pursuit of God--or touching and being touched by Him? This helpful and what many call seminal work on contemplation makes what could be mysterious and hidden something available to Christians for their lives.

In the author's bibliography, he suggests other books. The first on his list is Abhishiktananda, "Saccidananda" (a Christian Approach to Advaitic Experience). This is a book by a wonderful monk and man of prayer. He suggests "New English Bible, Oxford University Press..." and John Cassian, "Institutes" and "Conferences". It's as if you've got all the basic books you need to carry on after this one. "The Cloud of Unknowing", and Walter Hilton, "The Scale of Perfection." Reading this list gives one another sense of the kind of book John Main has written.

I plan to go back and look at sections in "Word into Silence."

--Peter Menkin, Mill Valley, CA USA

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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