Monday, June 29, 2015

Prayer and Praise

Praying at Dinner Table
The Word of God, in the wisdom literature of ancient Israel, clearly tells us that God created us in his own image and likeness; we possess the spark of the divine within ourselves.  We are destined for relationship with God and one another forever.
Prayer brings to consciousness the presence of God in our lives.

There are many methods or pathways or windows into the presence of God.  Let me briefly explore some approaches that I think can enrich our relationship and friendship with God.

Familiar prayers.  The Our Father, the Stations of the Cross, the mysteries of the Rosary, the Peace Prayer of St. Francis - - all of these, when pondered slowly, can be passageways into the presence of God.  Above all, in the Eucharist, we experience by faith the presence of the living Christ sacramentally in the signs of bread and wine.

Second, the prayer of praise: the bubbling over of the Spirit within ourselves, taking us out of ourselves and into God’s presence.  Francis of Assisi was always singing praises.  Witness The Canticle of the Sun, whose first words begin the Pope’s new encyclical or letter on care of our common home, Mother Earth.  Francis of Assisi saw God in brother sun, sister moon, wind and fire and water and all creation.  Yes, praise recognizes our fundamental relationship: humble creatures vis-a-vis an awesome creator.  A hymn titled All Creatures of our God and King makes clear all creatures are invited to lift their voices in praise to God.

A third form of prayer is to take a passage from Scripture and to slowly meditate upon the meaning of that passage.  We all have a favorite scripture passage:  I am the way, the truth and the life; whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do for me.  Come to me, all you who find life burdensome.

There are many other forms of prayer.  The prayer of silence.  The prayer of petition.  There is the prayer of suffering.  Jesus is the model.  While racked in fear and pain - - in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the way to his execution, on the cross itself – he trusted ever more deeply in his Father’s love for him.

Almost anything we see or experience can be a prayer.  Yes, all creatures and all earthly experiences can be pathways or windows into the presence of God who is within us and all around us.

There’s no time like the present.  May we be men and women of faith, and also people of prayer.

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