Breathe Christ

September 12, 2015 | Monastic Musings

Reflections from some of the nuns

One of the practices at the heart of Lectio Divina*, the Benedictine way of prayer, is meditation. While there are many ‘methods’ of meditation that are found in the Christian tradition, all of them to some degree are meant in the sense of the line in Psalm 45, ‘Be still and know that I am God’. Methods of meditation, when practiced, are meant to take us to the pool of stillness and quiet that lies in the deepest center of our being. Within Lectio Divina this meditation practice is found in the stage of contemplatio, or contemplation.

To focus on the breathe is a very powerful practice which is not new to the Christian tradition and certainly not exclusive to it. Scripture abounds with reference to the breath of God. The Hebrew word ruach or breath hovered over the void; it is found when God breathed into the nostrils of human beings and they came alive and it is found in Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones, which come alive with the breath of God.

St. Athanasius, one of the early Church Fathers advised us to “always breathe Christ.”

There is an invitation here to make this practice a daily event. That is, to become mindful that each breath I take is the gift of the Spirit of God – literally. It can be brought to mind that any time and often during the day. It reminds me that the breath I breathe is the breath of God that is creating, recreating and sustaining me not once, but on every breath I take. This helps me to live always mindful of the gift of life. Mindfulness of this gift clears the channels through which the spirit of God flows.

Hafiz, a 12th century Sufi mystic poet, wrote these beautiful words:

The Christ’s Breath:

I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through, listen to this music.
I am the concert from the mouth of every creature, singing with the myriad chorus.
I am a hole in a flute that the Christ’s breath moves through, listen to this music.

* Sr Hildegard provides a weekly Lectio study on this website.

Abbey Two Arm Cross


Sr Magdalen Mather osb