Monday, August 9, 2010

Are We Tuned In To The Right Frequency?

In his column in the Catholic Times, a priest recounts the story of a priest friend who made his retreat  in a monastery.  "The whole day was spent in prayer and doing only what the monks would be doing daily." It was a very prayerful and precious time.

What would a sophisticated  person of the world  think of time spent this way?  Time spent in a non-productive way. Those who want to see results and accomplishments see such time as inefficient, non-productive, a waste of time.

The priest asked himself whether the world would be a better place if there was more emphasis on the values of  efficiency and productivity. He was quick to say no. At the end of the retreat, he wondered if abandoning  the emphasis on efficiency and productivity, he would be taking a step into a better and different world from the one he was in.
There are many people who spend time in prayer, attend Mass, say the rosary, read Scripture, spend time before the Blessed Sacrament.  Christians of all persuasions spend a great deal of time in the presence of God in  a non-productive way. Not infrequently, those who pray and meditate  do so for reasons of  health and peace of mind. This is an approach we all can understand, but it is not the understanding of prayer we are dealing with here.

There is another way of looking at this quiet time with God, with its different value system and perspective. Prayer is opening ourselves to God: giving  ourselves to him so that he will be able to change us.  God is coming to us, moving us, speaking to us, so we can go out to others; contemplation is for others. We are globs of clay that we give to him to be  molded into whatever he wants.  For the Christian, this is a given, and deeply influences the way we see time.  In Acts, St. Paul quotes the poets, "In him, we live and move and have our being."  In prayer we try to conform to  God's will and not ask that God's will conform to ours: the initiative is with God, and we wait for his gift.  We believe that he wants the best for us, so we try to get rid of the impediments that prevent him from working in us. Is there anything more practical in a non-practical way?                                                

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