Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Muttering Prayer

Image result for Amethystos drunkI was struck by the first reading this morning from 1 Samuel 1:9ff. Hannah, who is a type of Mary, prays before the Tabernacle of the Lord, her lips are moving but she only mutters so Eli the priest thinks she is drunk. The Psalms so often speak of 'crying out to the Lord' or 'shouting in his presence' or 'making a loud noise unto the Lord', that,I suspect, was how Jews prayed.

Eli's accusation of drunkenness is precisely what the disciples are accused of on Pentecoste morning, 'Amethystos' they cry, 'we are 'not drunk' but filled with the Holy Spirit', and so to this day bishops wear an amethyst ring as a sign that they are not drunk but filled with the Holy Spirit.

Is muttering prayer a sign of the being filled with the Holy Spirit? Is this one of the reasons why in both East and West the Canon or Eucharistic Prayer was said sotto voce or muttered. Is muttering prayer a sign of the Spirit? Is it all down to Hannah?

In the bitterness of her soul she prayed to the Lord with many tears and made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord of Hosts! If you will take notice of the distress of your servant, and bear me in mind and not forget your servant and give her a man-child, I will give him to the Lord for the whole of his life and no razor shall ever touch his head.’
While she prayed before the Lord which she did for some time, Eli was watching her mouth, for she was speaking under her breath; her lips were moving but her voice could not be heard. He therefore supposed that she was drunk and said to her, ‘How long are you going to be in this drunken state? Rid yourself of your wine.’ ‘No, my lord,’ Hannah replied ‘I am a woman in great trouble; I have taken neither wine nor strong drink – I was pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not take your maidservant for a worthless woman; all this time I have been speaking from the depth of my grief and my resentment.’ Then Eli answered her: ‘Go in peace,’ he said ‘and may the God of Israel grant what you have asked of him.’ And she said, ‘May your maidservant find favour in your sight’; and with that the woman went away; she returned to the hall and ate and was dejected no longer.


Anonymous said...

"and so to this day bishops wear an amethyst ring as a sign that they are not drunk but filled with the Holy Spirit."
Really. dear Father?
I surmise it is a long time since you kissed a bishop's ring. Most now seem to be of gold or silver. I do not suggest that means they are drunk,,,,but it certainly does not suggest that they are filled with the Holy Spirit in a Church encouraging poverty,

Good to see you back!

Sixupman said...

My withdrawal symptoms are now assuaged!

Belated greetings, Father.

Mary said...

I'm always moved by the significance of colors in the Church. I did not know this meaning of Amethyste.
My favorite is Aquamarine, a bracelet of which I always wear.
I sometimes surprise myself to be mumbling in whispers when I read the Bible or pray.
I think none should be forced - to mumble to seek the Holy Spirit or not to mumble to be self-righteous about mind praying. We are celebrating the embodied God in Jesus Christ, the body is far from being irrelevant. That is one aspect that sets Christianity apart from the more abstract religions of the East, namely Hinduism and Buddhism (the real competition in Modern Age for Christianity, especially for the past decades or even century - Schopenhauer was XIXth century and he expressed attraction for Hinduism too).
Eli the priest tried to judge Hannah, to figure out what she's doing wrong. God had clearly mixed feeling about people judging each other, or even themselves (see he did not let Cain judge himself in guilt), and as Jesus Christ He clearly set His mind about this as in it is forbidden.
Making the sign of the Cross with our hands may be drunk or insane too. I'm Orthodox and I try to make the sign every time I pass by a Church, as I'm supposed to. I sometimes fear I look insane then I realize I'm ashamed of God and that is a sin, I'm a fool to worry about being called a fool.
Happy New Year and thank you for the blog, it's very beautiful. I wish more Catholic priests and Orthodox too would begin discussing with people on the internet, as evil a tool as it may be, to balance only a bit the ugliness of the virtual world.

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