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Author Archives: Witold Ozimski

A silent journey into the depths of yourself

Maksymilian Nawara OSB – A silent journey into the depths of yourself, 20.01.2018

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Spirituality of everyday life

Dariusz Hybel – Spirituality of everyday life, 19.01.2019

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Late Fr. Jan Bereza OSB

Born 17 July 1955 in Warsaw, he died on 20 February 2011 in Leszno, Benedictine, and propagator of Christian Meditation. He was born as Mirosław Bereza, a graduate of philosophy at the Academy of Catholic Theology (since 1999 Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University) in Warsaw, in 1982 he joined the Benedictine Monastery in Lubiń and took the name Jan. In 1988 he was ordained a priest, in the years 1999–2002, he was the prior of the monastery community. From 1998 he was a member of the Polish Episcopate Committee for Dialogue with Non-Christian Religions. In 1988, he founded the Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń, which he managed until 2006. He collaborated with The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) and Benedictine Commission for Monastic Interreligious Dialogue. He popularized eastern meditation techniques, trying to adapt them to the needs of Christian prayer. He initiated the Christian Meditation Days in Lubiń. In the Center he founded, meditation was taught according to the tradition of monological prayer, with one short invocation from the Bible. He was involved in the Christian-Buddhist dialogue.

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THE LUBIŃ MEDITATION GROUP COMMUNITY

The Lubiń Meditation Group Community is a federation of Christian meditation groups for which the Center in Lubiń is:   – a reference point and spiritual center, – a place of regular meditation and spiritual accompaniment/– a place of permanent formation to live in prayer. The groups included in the Lubiń Community of Christian Meditation are: – administratively and financially independent of the Center and each other; – they retain autonomy as to the form of joint practice and other activities. These groups belong to Lubiń Community of Meditation: Group from Białystok meetings: Mondays, at 07:00 p.m., Chapel at the Sanctuary of God’s Mercy, 1 Radzymińska street, Thursdays, at 05:00 p.m., Chapel at Catholic School, Kościelna street, meditation: 3×20 min (people who want to take part in the meeting for the first time, please contact us in advance) contact: mobile: 503 011 393 Group from Gdańsk Functioning at the Dominican Monastery Spiritual attendant: Fr. Jacek Truszczyński OP Meetings: Wednesdays, 07:50 p.m. Contact:  Karolina Siodmiak, mobile: 505 109 966 e-mail: ksiodmiak@wp.pl Website: https://gdansk.dominikanie.pl/kontakt/medytacja-chrzescijanska/ Group from Krakow Meetings: Tuesdays, at 06:30 p.m. at the monastery Fr. Jesuits ul. Kopernika 26 Contact: mobile: +48 666 077 616 E-mail: chrzescijanska.medytacja@gmail.com Website: https://www.facebook.com/krkgmch/   Group from Łódź I Meetings: Tuesdays, 07:30 p.m. at the church of the Mother of the Redeemer Contact: pr. Stanislaw Kotowski E-mail: s.kotowski@interia.pl Website: www.medytacjachrzescijanska.pl Group from Łódź II Functioning at the parish of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross ul. Sienkiewicza 38 Meetings: Wednesday at 07:00 p.m. Spiritual attendant: pr. Kazimierz Woźniak Contact: kazek@toya.net.pl Group from Łowicz Meetings at the parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Łowicz (Korabka) Irregular meetings, usually on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month after the evening mass. Contact: Adam – mobile: +48 692 435 121 E-mail: adam@net4jezus.com Website: www.maranata.aux.pl Group from Olsztyn Functioning at the church of St. Arnold ul. St. Arnolda 1 Meetings: Tuesdays at 07:00 p.m. Contact: Katarzyna Piątkowska: mobile: +48 664 424 266, Joanna Buzderewicz: mobile: +48 791 375 017 Group from Pobierowo Functioning at the church of the Saint Redeemer Pobierowo ul. Lubelska 1 Meetings: every other Thursday after mass in the parish house Spiritual attendant: pr. Stanisław Krzyżanowski Contact:  Iza Roustm, mobile: 691 841 364 e-mail: medytacja2017@wp.pl Website: http://parafia.pobierowo.pl/about/grupy-parafialne/ Group from Poznań Functioning at the church of Jesuits Contact: coordinator – Dariusz Hybel E-mail: dahyb@interia.pl Website: www.jezuici.pl/medytacja/ Group from Rzeszów Dominican Group of Christian Meditation Functioning at the Dominican Monastery  Meetings:  on Mondays and Wednesdays at 07:30 p.m. Attendants: Fr. Mikołaj Mrówczyński OP, Fr. Dominik Ornawka Contact: dyrda.malgorzata@gmail.com, Grzegorz.Boratyn@tvp.pl Group from Sampor (Slovakia) in Lord’s Transfiguration Benedictine Monastery in Sampor Slovakia. Meetings: once a month, on fridays, before oblats’ meetings, after vespers at 05:30 p.m. (schedule of meetings: https://oblati.benediktini.sk/?page_id=13), Spiritual father: Fr Jozef Brodňanský OSB. Contact: Monika Čunderlíková e-mail:  jozef@benediktini.sk, monikacund@gmail.com web: www.benediktini.sk We would be appreciate for contact in advance. Group from Toruń The path of contemplation Functioning at the church of the Holy Spirit of Jesuits Meetings: Thursdays, 07:00 p.m. Contact:  Tomasz E-mail: tomekwojewoda@gmail.com Group from Warsaw I Contact: pr. Marek Danielewski ul. Łazienkowska 14, Warsaw Church of Our Lady of Jerusalem E-mail: markdan@o2.pl Website: www.medytacja.waw.pl Group from Warsaw II Group of Jesus Prayer Meetings: on Thursdays at 07:00 p.m. Holy Mass in Sanctuary, 7.50 pm meditation meeting – Samaria hall At the church of St. Andrzej Bobola ul. Rakowiecka 61 Contact: Michał Urbański, mobile: +48 606 446 252 Website: www.modlitwaciszy.pl Group from Warsaw III  of St. Jan Klimak Meetings: 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month at 07:00 p.m. Hall at the parish of St. Stefan, at Czerniakowska 137 Street. (entrance from the side of Nowosielecka street). Contact: Sr. Stefania mobile: +48 795 024 107 Website: https://modlitwajezusowa.com/ Group from Warsaw IV Meetings: Wednesday at 07.00 p.m. in the parish of the Evangelical Reformed Church, Al. Solidarności 76a Contact: Agnieszka Biernacka tel +48 511 166 624,E-mail: agnieszka_kreglewska@wp.pl Group from Wrocław I Meetings: Thursday at 07:55 p.m. in the academic chapel of the Dominican church pl. Dominikański 2 Spiritual attendant: Andrzej Kuśmierski Contact: Urszula Bednarz, mobile: +48 691 258 557 E-mail: urszula@bednarz.wroclaw.pl Group from Wrocław II ul. Katedralna 4, hall no 15 Meetings: Tuesdays, 07:00 p.m. – an introduction for beginners, 07:30 p.m. – the start of meditation Contact: Tomasz Jędrzejewski – +48 601 364 899 Group from Wrocław III Meetings: in the parish house at the church of St. Klemens Dworzak in Wroclaw at Al. Pracy 26, Thursday at 07:00 p.m. Spiritual attendant: Fr. J Grzegorz Tęczar SJ Contact:  Juliusz Modlinger, mobile: +48 508 365 680, Cezary Konwa, mobile: +48 607 697 456 E-mail: medytacjagrupawroclaw@gmail.com Website: https://www.facebook.com/GMCwW Group from Szczecin Meetings: in the parish house of  Pallottine Fathers, at the church of St. John the Evangelist, ul. Ducha Św. 9, every Sunday at 07:00 p.m. Contact: Piotr Ducher, mobile: +48 604 233 111, Mariusz Staszkop, mobile:  +48 609 360 394 E-mail: medytacja.szczecin@gmail.com Website: www.medytacje.szczecin.pl/index.htm Group from Wałbrzych Wałbrzych – Podzamcze – Szczawienko Contact: Tomasz Błachuciński E-mail: tblachucinski@wp.pl Mobile +48 667 109 255

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Fr. Maksymilian Nawara OSB

He was born on 10 March 1979 in Sosnowiec. He spent his childhood and high school time in his hometown Będzin. As a child, he belonged to scouts. Then came the time for music and autonomy and freedom search, which was expressed by his works and concerts. Robert (baptismal name of the Fr. Maksymilian), together with his family, belonged to the group of so-called cultural Catholics, which means that matters of religion and faith did not matter much to him. A severe crisis came in high school. The person who in the Future Benedictine life played a unique role at that time was a schoolmate of his. Robert asked many difficult questions. He couldn’t remain indifferent. However, the repentance did not prove to be a slow process, but it lasted three months when there was a radical turn to God, and a conscious desire to live in His Presence was born. He began to look for new ways of prayer and came across the “The Way of a Pilgrim.” Practice attracted him, but he did not find support in diocesan environments nor knowledge about it. A breakthrough turned out to be nothing special, but holiday stays at his aunt in a small Greater Poland village – Lubiń. There, fascinated by the practice of meditation, eighteen-year-old Robert not only discovers – after a series of previous disappointments – the charisma of St. Benedict but also learns about the existence of the Center of Christian Meditation, founded and run by Fr. John Bereza. This event and the accompanying condition of spiritual fulfillment is a turning point in his previous searches. The confirmation and consequence of this experience are joining the Benedictine order in 1998. The practice of meditation becomes part of himself, and, as a monk, he participates, whenever possible, in sessions led by Father Jan. In 2006, after twenty years, Fr. John Bereza OSB, the evangelist of Christian Meditation in Poland, ended his Center ministration. The twenty-eight-year-old Br Maksymilian Nawara OSB takes over the running of the Center. His new role raises many questions and doubts, because meditation grew out of his previous way of life, constituting its integral part, which the young monk initially did not want to combine with running the Center. However, nothing much changed in his approach to teaching meditation. He understands his role in the Center as “sharing on this path with others who walk with him. „He admits that individual guidance is the most difficult, requiring significant commitment and empathy and sensitivity in the face of the mystery of meeting other people. The Center of Christian Meditation, along with his spiritual guardian, is continually developing, acquiring a specific character, rooted in Christian monasticism, and at the same time, open to dialogue with Zen Buddhism. On the one hand, theological studies, Syrian language learning and trips of Fr. Maksymilian to India, on the other hand – fascination with Jesus Prayer as well as personal search for contact with a living, different religious tradition – all this decides about the current nature, specificity and activity of the Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń. Participants in sessions outside the spiritual haven of prayer, silence, and retreat have a unique opportunity to meet the ancient heritage of Greek and Oriental Christianity. However, during sessions in interreligious dialogue, they can participate in meetings with teachers representing a different Japanese Zen line in the Soto tradition. At the General Chapter of the Annunciation Benedictine Congregation in the Abbey of St. Scholastica in Subiaco, Italy, on 09 September 2018, Fr. Maksymilian Nawara OSB was elected as a new Abbot President of Congregation. Report and photos from Abbey’s Benediction from 10 September 2018 in Subiaco [click here]

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Dariusz Hybel

He was born on 3 October 1966 r. in Głogów (conceived in January in the same city), son of Janina and Jerzy. He was associated with the Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń since February 1991, long-standing assistant of Fr. John Bereza, whom he met for the first time in 1989 during Buddhist Days organized by the Verbist priests of the Pieniężno Meetings with Religions. In 2006 Fr. Maksymilian invited him to jointly lead the practice and in 2010 to conduct meditation sessions in Center independently. Dariusz Hybel graduated from philosophy in Poznań (Adam Mickiewicz University – Saint John of the Cross higher degree), from theology (Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Wrocław – graduation), The Gestalt Psychotherapy School (Krakow). He participated in the classes of the Carmelitanum Institute of Spirituality (Poznan), and also graduated from the Coach Academy at the Poznań School of Banking. In the years 1993–2004, he was actively associated with politics and self-government (i.a. in 1998, he co-founded a civic organization, the so-called “Poznan Pedestrian Party” in the years 1998–2002 he was a councilor of the Poznan City Council). As a journalist, he wrote hundreds of texts on socio-economic, political and religious topics; he cooperated with “Dziennik Poznański,” weeklys “Najwyższy Czas!”, “Niedziela”; in 1997, he was editor-in-chief of the weekly “Wielkopolanin.” He wrote two books about the functioning of the European Union from the perspective of a conservative (field of moral values) and a libertarian (field of economics). Currently, he is the deputy editor-in-chief of the magazine “Głos dla Życia.” The Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń is an important spiritual place for him. It was here that his search for the practice of prayer gained power. Staying every day, like the vast majority of participants in a meditation session, outside the monastery, he knows the challenges perfectly – often painful – combining Christian spirituality and the secular life. Although at a deep level, there is no “secular” and „monastic” life. He has experienced that the relationship with God and following suit Jesus must find its concrete, individual expression in everyday life: „We are invited, moment by moment, to cultivate Love Presence in the Uncreated. Life verifies spirituality. No illusions. Also, these meditative…”

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HISTORY

  CENTER OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION IN THE BENEDICTINE MONASTERY IN LUBIŃ It was founded on the initiative of Fr. Jan Bereza OSC in 1988. Until recently, it was the only place in Poland where meditation was taught and practiced according to the Old Christian tradition of monologue prayer. The practice of this form of worship developed in the IV-VIII century. It consists of repeating one short, unchanging call, verse, and a sentence from the Holy Scriptures, such as Jesus, Abba, or Maranatha. One of the many calls used in the first centuries took a privileged position over time: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner. It has become a standard formula for Jesus Prayer. This old tradition of prayer flowing from the sources of ancient monasticism is continuously practiced and taught today. The Benedictine Monastery has been a spiritual home to many Christians following this path of meditation. A community of meditating Christians in Poland is growing every year. Numerous meditation groups establish. The Center of Christian Meditation in Lubiń is for them an oasis of more intense prayer, silence, and spiritual guidance. Practice at a Benedictine Monastery creates a rare opportunity to experience the mystery of community life directly. Its rhythm is determined not only by meditation but also by common prayer with monks, meal Benedictine Monastery is also one of the few places for interreligious meetings and dialogue. Since 2006, Fr. Maksymilian Nawara OSB took over the spiritual care over the Center, after many years of Fr. Jan Bereza OSB ministry.

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At the Benedictine Sisters in Krzeszów

Photo: Waldemar Burzych

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25th Jubilee of the Christian Meditation Centre in Lubin

Photo: Jarosław Kubacki

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Introduction

Meeting God very often reflects our lives. In life, we have so many different, very important things to do, so much we have to achieve and work out. We would like to do the same in prayer. According to the principle: “The more the better”, we multiply external forms, with a focus on a specific profit. What should I do so that the prayer does not count the following formulas, but becomes an integral part of me? How can I make prayer permeate my life? This issue bothered Christians just from the very beginning. That’s why St. Paul, in the Thessalonians, calls on Christians to pray constantly (cf. Tes 5, 17). But what does it mean? Many monks and many lay people could not find the right answer for these questions. In the end, specific ‘spiritual practice’ came in as the answer. Repeated prayer Reading the Holy Scripture (lectio divina) was and still is essential spiritual practice of monks. However, it was not ‘reading’ we understand today. Today, when we read, we chew the words over, deliberate them, and look for their meaning. It seems to us that the more things we are able to think of in our reading, the better it is. For Desert Fathers, reading was more like being with the Word of God, chewing the Word rather than thinking about It. Hence, they learned many Scriptures fragments by heart and just repeated them. By repeating, they allowed the Word to dwell within themselves. They soak the Word as a sponge soaks water. These fragments naturally shortened. Over time, they began to take the form of single- or supra-sentential short prayers – today we would call them aspiration prayer. This is how the one-sentence (monological) prayer was born. Formula (one sentence or expression) became a refrain that was repeated throughout the day. But it wasn’t about mechanical repetition, but rather about the ‘Heart Prayer’. It was not about reflection and analysis, but rather about being before God, about focusing completely on One – God alone. The monks looked for sentences in the Scriptures that constituted a prayer just by themselves. For example, the words of Tax-Collector: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ (Luke 18:13), or those of the blind beggar from Jericho: Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me! (Mark 10:47). These words gradually took the form of the formula of the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner” or “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. There were many repeated formulas, but in a very short time it was Jesus Prayer Formula that gained the greatest popularity. St. John Cassian, a monk who in the fourth century spent many years in Egypt hermitages – where he took over from the Desert Fathers the tradition of monological prayer (‘one word prayer’), to pass it on later to the monks of the West – this is how he summarizes his teaching on meditation: Let the soul constantly stick to a very short formula, until strengthened by its continuant and sustained meditation, it will give up rich and extensive thoughts and it will agree to poverty, limiting itself to one verse… where the mind is no longer concerned with imagination forms, In this way our soul will come to flawless prayer where the mind is no longer concerned with imagination forms, it doesn’t even pronounce words loudly, it does not stop at the meaning of words, but where the heart burns with fire, it is full of ineffable delight, and in the spirit there is an insatiable desire. (John Cassian, Rozmowy z Ojcami, Źródła monastyczne 28, wyd. Tyniec, Krakow 2002, p. 437 and 440). And St. John Climacus preached: Let the memory of Jesus merge with your every breath. For as a drop of water cuts a stone, not by the force of the blow, but by the frequency of its falling, so the prayer penetrates the heart. In attentiveness to the word of prayer, to presence, to constantly returning to the call and constantly starting from the beginning, the body posture helps a lot. Breathe and a straight spine Breathing is so natural that we ignore it. However, it is true that each person once took their first breath, which meant entering this world, just received life from God. Every time someone inhales the air, he receives this gift of life again. At the end of the earthly course, the final exhalation will take place, which will be equal to the dedication of life to God. So you can say that life is breath. On the other hand, “name” in the Judeo-Christian tradition means “presence”. To know someone by name is to know his essence, the essence of a person. That is why Moses asked God’s name, and therefore the name in many places of Scripture is mysterious, and the second commandment sounds: You shall not take the Name of Lord your God in vain. So let the memory of Jesus’ Name be present in our every breath. Every time we inhale air, we receive the breath of life. We stand in the presence of God. We receive. When we exhale, we give back to the Lord everything that is in us, simply speaking: “Have mercy on me”. Using the formula of the Jesus Prayer as an example, we can say that the monologue prayer has two parts: inhale (call) – Lord Jesus Christ (Son of God); exhale (confession) – have mercy on me (a sinner). But that’s not all. It is difficult to maintain due attention to prayer when, for example, a person is sitting in a comfortable armchair or chair. We ourselves experience that it often ends in a nap or daydreaming. Meanwhile, for the Desert Fathers, prayer (proseuche) and attention (prosoche) are inextricably linked. Posture with a straight spine, chair without backrest, small prayer chair or a pillow turn out to be a great help here in maintaining attention. So we sit down and gently combine prayer and breath, just constantly returning to the present moment by repeating the chosen formula over and over again. And then thoughts arise. We experience it after just a few minutes. Our mind travels in thousands of directions, and we follow it. We travel to the future, we return to the past. We are like disciples on the road to Emmaus. They were talking with each other about everything “that had happened” and pondering “what will happen”. As a result, they are absent, beyond the present moment, and do not recognize the Lord who is walking with them. If we notice that we are thinking about what we have seen or heard, or we are making plans for the future, ours or someone else’s, or waiting for the prayer to end – we simply return gently to the prayer formula. We are not looking for deep intellectual insights or anything extraordinary. The Core and everything is Jesus – the only One “always and fully Present”. Simplicity and poverty The formula is like an anchor that anchors us in the present moment. God is in the present moment. He is not in the future, nor in the past. He is here, now and wants to be with us right here and right now. The more we go back to the formula, the longer whiles we stay watchful and focused. It’s like drops falling on a rock. This meditation is a simple, poor prayer which is about the presence of man before the One Who Is. Our acceptance of the “poverty” of means of expression in prayer, recommended by the Desert Fathers, can become a sign of willingness to give back control over our lives and total entrusting ourselves to God, about which each of us can say: Lord, you have seen what is in my heart. You know all about me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up (…). Lord, even before I speak a word, you know all about it (Ps 139). When we return constantly to formula, give up our plans, fantasies, our ideas, our time, we give our lives to God. Second by second. A properly practiced Christian prayer is intended to ensure that He must increase and I must decrease (John 3:30). Meditation for everyone? Christian meditation, in this way, is the simplest form of contemplative prayer, introducing the meditating person into the state of being before God, without thoughts and visions. The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it, for St. John of the Cross, “Prayer of Silent Love”, pointing out that in this kind of prayer ‘words are not of discursive character, but rather like sparks, are starting the fire of love’ (CCC 2717). This tradition of Christian meditation, passed down for almost two millennia mainly in monasteries, after the Second Vatican Council was also assimilated by the prayer movements of lay people. Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, in his letter “On certain aspects of Christian meditation”, pointed out that Christian meditation is a form of prayer which in recent years has attracted increasing interest (…). Today, many Christians fervently wish to learn authentic and in-depth prayer, although modern culture makes it extremely difficult to meet their perceived need for silence, focus and meditation. Like in response to this need, there has been a Christian Meditation Centre (www.lubin-medytacje.pl) in the Benedictine monastery in Lubiń for 20 years, where the practice of this form of prayer is conveyed. Every month, the monastery organizes three-day meditation sessions, which gather about 30 people each time. Participants, while remaining silent, share their time into prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours with monks, about five hours of meditation per day, and about two hours of physical work. From experience of common meditations in Lubiń Monastery, the Lubiń Community of Christian Meditation Groups grew up. It brings together meditation groups from all over Poland, currently functioning in more than a dozen cities, for a regular common practice of prayer in silence. In addition, there is also a World Christian Meditation Community (WCCM) in Poland, run by Fr. Laurence Freeman OSB (look here www.wccm.pl). Many ways St. Basil the Great wrote: Seek God and call Him with all your heart and you will find Him. There are many opportunities to meet God – the Jesus Prayer is just one of them. The key to discovering your own way is to discern what kind of prayer you are called to do. I am deeply convinced that God calls us not only to prayer in general, but to its specific form. Some people discover their way in charismatic movements, the others in the rosary, yet others in meditation, and still others in the form of meditation, briefly described here. If you want to pray and keep looking for “your” way, maybe Christian meditation is the answer. If you have already discovered “your” own prayer – persevere! Even if we do not know how to pray properly, the Holy Spirit contributes to us with implications that cannot be expressed in words (Rom 8:26). He is that one who gives us the gift of constant prayer. We should “only” persevere with it. Fr Maksymilian Nawara OSB

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