Donna M. Cole
Prayer, not words
Prayer stands before God as an honored ambassador. It gives joy to the spirit, peace to the heart. I speak of prayer, not words. It is the longing for God, love too deep for words, a gift not given by man but by God’s grace. The apostle Paul says: We do not know how we are to pray but the Spirit himself pleads for us with inexpressible longings. (St. John Chrysostom, bishop, Supp. Hom: 6 De precatione: PG 64, 462–466)
Prayer is what draws us into the experience of life as a sacred encounter with God. Through it, we are able to witness as living signs of the holiness to which God has called each of us. In the light of scandal in our church, with tensions high, in the face of so much disillusionment, now is a time for prayer too deep for the shallow words heard too long from too many pulpits. Predictably, we hear the call to return to church, to “come home” to the sacraments. As if confession were source and summit of our Christian identity rather than baptism, we hear loudly and boldly of the saving grace of penance. But what of the other sacraments? When communion and matrimony are wielded as weapons, our integrity as a community suffers. When even the dignity of a funeral is denied to some, we are injured as a people.
We hear endlessly of the need to pray for a multitude of things, surely all good causes, but rarely (if ever) do we hear an invitation to the prayer of nothingness, the prayer that invites the grace that enables us to do just what God asks of us. At liturgy we can barely tolerate a moment’s silence, much less the deep, velvety quiet that cushions the soul against the clamor of a world constantly in motion. To be still, even at worship, is too much for us; we have so many things to do, to say, to text. No wonder we have trouble hearing when God speaks. We cannot answer the call of the gospel if we are deafened by the sound of our own words and blinded by self-importance.
Exploring an authentic identity as God’s people, ML continues this year to ask the question, “What is church?” One response to that question is that “church is a sign of the sacredness of life.” In this issue we consider the ways that we can deepen spirituality and, in so doing, grow into a stronger witness of the sacred life God has entrusted to us. Michael Castrilli presents the second of a two-part article on how to integrate Salesian spirituality into the workplace. Jean Marie DuHamel reflects on the ways that our relationships with one another are signs of the presence of God’s action in the world. Joni Woelfel shares another Divine Adventure story with us, in which graced moments happen in the most unlikely of places. I pitched in on this issue also, with a method for finding silence and simplicity even with the unlikely help of technology and electronic gadgetry.
In today’s fast-paced world, demands on time and energy can seem overwhelming. Finding our way through these uncertain times adds a layer of complexity to our faith lives. Tending to our spirituality, which draws us ever closer to the God who offers us holiness, is critical. We are made in God’s image and likeness and are called to rejoice in recognizing that divine nature in one another. We are challenged to seek it out and reverence it in every person. This will only be possible with God’s grace and through prayer that is part of every dimension of our lives. ML