In my experience John Main is the most important spiritual guide in the Church today. He opened the way to the direct experience of God, of truth, of reality from within the Christian tradition. He was a man of great wisdom and above all of great love.
John Main effectively put the desert tradition of prayer to work in our own day. The roots of his distinctive spirituality lie deep in the fourth and fifth centuries, especially in the works of that great expositor of the desert world, John Cassian. The World Community for Christian Meditation which continues his mission is for me, as for many throughout the world, a taste of what a commitedly contemplative church might look and feel like.
John Main never said things in flashy ways, he is saying a lot more than a superficial reading might allow one to see. By going to the roots of spirituality he laid a solid and radical foundation for social critique and social involvement. John Main teaches us to move beyond all images for the sake of powerlessness. I have personally been gifted by the wisdom of this man.
John Main harmonized what he learned from the East and from the West. From every discovery there is a new creation. Main was not complicated - he was a symbol for us all. In this he was an authentic genius.
One thing that I found remarkable about John Main was his way of being with and exchanging profoundly with people of other religious faiths and traditions, without in any way loosing his anchoring in the Christian tradition. The issue of who is right didn't obtrude. He taught us how to live fully the deepening of our own spirituality that we can realize in these exchanges, just because the faiths are so different, and can't be simply reconciled by finding some lowest common denominator. Some truths emerge in the space between our faiths, in the silence we never manage to fill.
In the same way, John Main taught us that we must be fully of our time, but never confined to it, that the monastic practice of the early Centuries can be retrieved and can inform our prayer today.
The contemporary secular age is an age of spiritual seeking, especially among young people. But the response of many churchmen is to press forward with their definitive answers, even before the questions have been formulated. But John Main, in his work and in his being, really speaks to this age. He opened for us a disciplined way of seeking, in which even our questions will be ever formulated anew.
William Johnston SJ:
As meditation and contemplation spread through the world East and West, the teaching of John Main and the World Community for Christian Meditation which he inspired become more and more important. I have found that the contemplative spirit is particularly valuable in our dialogue with Zen and other Oriental religions. May it grow and develop in the whole world.
Thomas Keating OCSO:
Dom John Main's outstanding contribution to the Christian Contemplative heritage has been important to so many people around the world in renewing the contemplative dimension of the Gospel and furthering the path to divine union, the birthright of every Christian.