Prayers for the eternal rest of Rosemary and Mary Isabel and all their families and all who mourn them.
Lord, help us all as You know and will. God's will is best. All is mercy and
grace. God is never absent, praise Him! Thanks so much. JL
February 26, June 27, October 27
Chapter 20: On Reverence in Prayer
When we wish to suggest our wants to persons of high station, we do
not presume to do so
except with humility and reverence. How much the more, then, are
complete humility and pure devotion necessary in supplication of
the Lord who is God of the universe! And let us be assured that it
is not in saying a great deal that we shall be heard (Matt 6:7),
but in purity of heart and in tears of compunction. Our prayer,
therefore, ought to be short and pure, unless it happens to be
prolonged by an inspiration of divine grace. In community, however,
let prayer be very short, and when the Superior gives the signal
let all rise together.
There is a necessary tension in Benedictine prayer, both public and
private, between the awesome majesty and otherness of God and His
infinite closeness and approachability. God is among us. He is not
the guy next door, but neither is He some untouchable, easily
offended emperor or sultan. Both these truths must be addressed in
order to maintain a correct balance.
God doesn't need ceremony, He doesn't need anything. All the high
church in the world might (or might not...) tickle His fancy, but
it does not one whit for Him personally. The rub here is that WE
need what we offer to God, and that has been all too often
In a very real and subtle sense, we BECOME what we offer to God,
often quite unnoticed by ourselves. The upshot of all this is
clear: offer God the lowest possible common denominator and that is
what those offering same will become. Offer Him empty and
presumptuous high church as theatre and be not surprised when those
things become rather ridiculously silly themselves. In very sad
fact, either empty extreme will make people pathetically silly and
spiritually impoverished besides.
St. Benedict says far less about personal prayer than the
Carmelites, but everything he says here would warm the hearts of
Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. The "short and pure"
prayer that he recommends was already a great favorite of the
Desert Fathers and Mothers. They loved "one-liners", often just
repeating "O God, come to my assistance," or other phrases from
the Psalms, many of which figure in the Office to our own day.
This is another truly Benedictine form of prayer, one that can be
started without any preparation at all, the "short and pure"
aspirations repeated from the heart. The Jesus Prayer would work
well here, or any other of a number of phrases from devotional
Scripture. Like the early Desert monastics, one may weave them into
virtually any part of the day or work.
Even a surprise moment of solitude on an elevator is a chance for a
few good Jesus Prayers! In line at the grocery store one could
choose to only read the scandal sheet headlines every other day
(LOL!) and use some of that time for aspirations instead.
Opportunities abound! The shortness of this prayer is perfect for
busy Oblates, a real connection to our Benedictine family and way
that is accessible to all.
We can get distracted when repeating a one-line prayer many times.
On the one hand, one should struggle to remain focused, but on the
other, a Desert Father once quipped that, if God counted
distraction at Psalmody, no one could be saved! I have always taken
comfort in that saying, since frequently (like, say, daily...) I
more closely resemble a Tibetan prayer wheel than a praying,
conscious monk. It may be folly, but I hope God is pleased with
even those "prayer wheel" times. Another Desert saying has it that,
even when we are distracted at prayer, it still annoys the demons
and is worth at least that!!
A very Benedictine warning here that the Carmelites would strongly
approve: prayer is only to be prolonged by "inspiration of divine
grace." When God does let us feel something wonderful in prayer, a
very understandable temptation is to hang onto the feeling, to
prolong it, to produce it again. Doesn't work, folks, and it could
very well turn into a trap. When God prolongs prayer or gives us
graces, fine! Relax, swim in His grace and enjoy it, but never,
ever try to fill the pool for a quick dip on your own. That's not
the way prayer- or God- works.
Love and prayers,
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