This invention relates to a process for the preparation of a mixture of methanol and formaldehyde through the oxidation of methane. In the process the oxidation of methane is carried out using an oxidant and a solid salen transition metal complex as a catalyst. The source of methane may be either pure methane or natural gas. The organo transition metal complexes used as catalysts are solids insoluble in methane or the reaction products arising from oxidation wherein such changes are known to lead to catalyst deactivation problems. The oxidative stability as well as the catalytic activity of the metal salens in the oxidation of methane are enhanced by replacing the hydrogen from the salen by election withdrawing groups like the halogens or nitro groups thereby rendering the metal ions easier to reduce leading to an improved oxidation activity and stability of the catalysts during the reaction.