Tuesday, March 11, 2014
God is Not a Public Meeting
I don't do flowery words when I pray, a simple plea. "Have Mercy!", "Give him her/strength", "Forgive me", "Heal them", "Be with them", I think it is enough, the Lord knows better than me what I want, or better still what I or anyone else needs. Perfect prayer is saying and meaning,"Into your hands ...", "Thy will be done ...", "Be it done to me according thy word", that is 'holiness', perfect 'communion'.
I hate praying with Protestant clergy or Catholic charismatics who go on for hours as if God needs a lecture. God is not daft, yes sometimes it is necessary to reason through our prayers, sometimes to actually remind oneself of what has already done. Repetition in prayer is good but God actually hears the first time, the repetition, is any words are about us touching base with God, not the like the priests of Baal trying to attract God's attention.
If I am talking to God to there is reason why anyone else should overhear, unless one is in a sense trying to teach through one's prayer as Jesus does in S John's Gospel. What we call prayer is above all about placing ourselves in God's. It is worth asking why S Paul can identify the number of times he has prayed to be delivered from his 'thorn in the flesh'. I am always struck that in the Divine Office there are a whole series of Collects but psalms, canticles and hymns which praise God reminding us of his goodness followed by the Pater and then a single collect. The life of a monk or nun is not spent in endless cries of "God help Mabel ..." but simple an attempt to dwell in God's presence and to contemplate his beauty. Actual prayer in the Catholic Tradition is short and to the point.
Joe Shaw has an interesting post on the silent Canon, I must say I ask myself what purpose is there in its being said aloud has, except to turn the most sacred prayer of the Mass into a time to edify the the people who are for the most part not edified but distracted or bored by it and to turn the priest into someone responsible for engaging the faithful with not very exciting material, when he should be engaged with God, (if prayers real function is about God and communion with him). In the Canon I speak to God on behalf of the whole Church, not to edify anyone.
I really am at a loss to know why we do it aloud, when it is said silently the people can get on with their chief function as a holy, priestly people, and intercede, bringing the world to the altar, joining Christ his great work of atonement and communion.
Queen Victoria complained Gladstone addressed her as though she were a public meeting, the relationship of the priest with God at Mass is the intimate relationship of Son with the Father, whispering an eternal "Abba".
Posted by Fr Ray Blake