Thursday, October 18, 2012

Prayer is done in many Ways.

We all have heard prayer described differently. One of the most useful definitions includes the notion of dialog with God. As we know, dialog can take many forms, and the columnist writing on spirituality for  the Catholic Times introduces us to one of the more unusual forms practiced by a religious brother who spends much of his time in prayer.

The writer, a priest, visited the brother, a friend, at his monastery. On this occasion, he went to the porter's lodge to ask to see his friend. The brother responsible for meeting guests went to the church to tell the brother of his visit. When he came into the reception room, he opened the door slowly, looked in, and when he saw his friend, he greeted him warmly.

They spent time drinking tea and conversing, but the priest friend admits that he did all the talking. The brother's daily routine never varies and may be the reason, the columnist says, his friend had so little to say. The columnist monopolized the conversation and confessed, perhaps cynically, he admits, asking the brother that it must be nice to spend the whole day in prayer.

All the brothers have different tasks, the brother answered. They are busy with lectures, sermons, counseling, teaching, and the like. He was not gifted in this way, he said, so he takes care of the house and does his little tasks, and with the time left over goes to the church to pray. The priest then asked what he suspected might be considered a foolish question: how should one pray? 

The brother said that those who know more than he knows examine themselves spiritually with the head and with whole-body pray. "I do not know how to do this," he said.  "I just sit my butt  in the church. Those who see me think I'm praying but it's not the usual kind of prayer. When we experience God's love, doesn't the body in some way respond? For myself, just sitting in the church for one or two hours is just fine.  I look at the cross, the tabernacle, the heavens through the open widows, feel the breeze, and speak to God with the feelings I have. I don't know how to pray, but I do know how to sit my butt in a church pew."

He added, "My body goes to where it wants, and what I feel with my body I present to God."

The columnist says that his own butt does not particularly like going into church to sit down. However, he hopes the day will come when his butt will want to do what the brother enjoys doing.

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