Tag Archives: prayer

St Bruno

Today we liturgically recall great monastic founder and reformer, St Bruno. What we admire and are grateful for in the mission of Bruno is his accent on silence and contemplation in the daily search for the face of God. Pope Benedict offers us a few ideas for meditation. Of course, Benedict few ideas help us to seek the face of the saints in turn who show us the face of God. There is much in Benedict’s meditation for our own journey in the spiritual life and the scope of good, reliable and reason theology.

Redemptoris Mater Chapel, Apostolic Palace
Friday, 6 October 2006, Feast of Saint Bruno

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have not prepared a real Homily, only a few ideas for meditation.

As clearly appears, the mission of St Bruno, today’s saint, is, we might say, interpreted in the prayer for this day, which reminds us, despite being somewhat different in the Italian text, that his mission was silence and contemplation.

But silence and contemplation have a purpose: they serve, in the distractions of daily life, to preserve permanent union with God. This is their purpose: that union with God may always be present in our souls and may transform our entire being.

Silence and contemplation, characteristic of St Bruno, help us find this profound, continuous union with God in the distractions of every day. Silence and contemplation: speaking is the beautiful vocation of the theologian. This is his mission: in the loquacity of our day and of other times, in the plethora of words, to make the essential words heard. Through words, it means making present the Word, the Word who comes from God, the Word who is God.

Yet, since we are part of this world with all its words, how can we make the Word present in words other than through a process of purification of our thoughts, which in addition must be above all a process of purification of our words?

How can we open the world, and first of all ourselves, to the Word without entering into the silence of God from which his Word proceeds? For the purification of our words, hence, also for the purification of the words of the world, we need that silence which becomes contemplation, which introduces us into God’s silence and brings us to the point where the Word, the redeeming Word, is born.

St Thomas Aquinas, with a long tradition, says that in theology God is not the object of which we speak. This is our own normal conception.

God, in reality, is not the object but the subject of theology. The one who speaks through theology, the speaking subject, must be God himself. And our speech and thoughts must always serve to ensure that what God says, the Word of God, is listened to and finds room in the world.

Thus, once again we find ourselves invited to this process of forfeiting our own words, this process of purification so that our words may be nothing but the instrument through which God can speak, and hence, that he may truly be the subject and not the object of theology.

In this context, a beautiful phrase from the First Letter of St Peter springs to my mind. It is from verse 22 of the first chapter. The Latin goes like this: “Castificantes animas nostras in oboedentia veritatis”. Obedience to the truth must “purify” our souls and thus guide us to upright speech and upright action.

In other words, speaking in the hope of being applauded, governed by what people want to hear out of obedience to the dictatorship of current opinion, is considered to be a sort of prostitution: of words and of the soul.

The “purity” to which the Apostle Peter is referring means not submitting to these standards, not seeking applause, but rather, seeking obedience to the truth.

And I think that this is the fundamental virtue for the theologian, this discipline of obedience to the truth, which makes us, although it may be hard, collaborators of the truth, mouthpieces of truth, for it is not we who speak in today’s river of words, but it is the truth which speaks in us, who are really purified and made chaste by obedience to the truth. So it is that we can truly be harbingers of the truth.

This reminds me of St Ignatius of Antioch and something beautiful he said: “Those who have understood the Lord’s words understand his silence, for the Lord should be recognized in his silence”. The analysis of Jesus’ words reaches a certain point but lives on in our thoughts.

Only when we attain that silence of the Lord, his being with the Father from which words come, can we truly begin to grasp the depth of these words.

Jesus’ words are born in his silence on the Mountain, as Scripture tells us, in his being with the Father.

Words are born from this silence of communion with the Father, from being immersed in the Father, and only on reaching this point, on starting from this point, do we arrive at the real depth of the Word and can ourselves be authentic interpreters of the Word. The Lord invites us verbally to climb the Mountain with him and thus, in his silence, to learn anew the true meaning of words.

In saying this, we have arrived at today’s two Readings. Job had cried out to God and had even argued with God in the face of the glaring injustice with which God was treating him. He is now confronted with God’s greatness. And he understands that before the true greatness of God all our speech is nothing but poverty and we come nowhere near the greatness of his being; so he says: “I have spoken… twice, but I will proceed no further” [Jb 40: 5].

We are silent before the grandeur of God, for it dwarfs our words. This makes me think of the last weeks of St Thomas’ life. In these last weeks, he no longer wrote, he no longer spoke. His friends asked him: “Teacher, why are you no longer speaking? Why are you not writing?”. And he said: “Before what I have seen now all my words appear to me as straw”.

Fr Jean-Pierre Torrel, the great expert on St Thomas, tells us not to misconstrue these words. Straw is not nothing. Straw bears grains of wheat and this is the great value of straw. It bears the ear of wheat. And even the straw of words continues to be worthwhile since it produces wheat.

For us, however, I would say that this is a relativization of our work; yet, at the same time, it is an appreciation of our work. It is also an indication in order that our way of working, our straw, may truly bear the wheat of God’s Word.

The Gospel ends with the words: “He who hears you, hears me”. What an admonition! What an examination of conscience those words are! Is it true that those who hear me are really listening to the Lord? Let us work and pray so that it may be ever more true that those who hear us hear Christ. Amen!

Christian prayer centers us differently

I am frequently confused by Christians. They complain they don’t know the tradition, that they don’t know if God exists, they equate faith, belief, church, sacrament as all the the same and don’t seem to be able to make distinctions. A Vincentian Father begins a personal dialogue that may be helpful to you, as it is for me. When I was in theology school one of my professors said that most Catholics only pray to one of the persons of the Trinity forgetting that Catholics (and Orthodox) are decidedly Trinitarian. The concept of praying to the Father through Son under the power of the Holy Spirit escapes many… Nevertheless, here is Fr Collins:

Christian prayer is God-centered rather than self-centered. Consistent with the spirit of the first commandment, the very opening address of the Lord’s Prayer escapes from the normal gravitational pull of self-absorption in order to focus on the Creator.

The context is decidedly Trinitarian. It is offered to God the Father, through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is our unique and indispensable window on God. His words and actions are like so many panes of glass in the window of his humanity.

When viewed with the eyes of faith in the light of the Holy Spirit they reveal who Jesus is as the Son of God. As Jesus stated: I am the way, and the truth, and life; no one comes to the Father but by me’ (John 1:6).

Prayer in Practice
Fr. Pat Collins, C.M.

Prayer and Fasting

Prayer and fasting, worship and adoration, Scripture and sacraments and sacramentals all provide the weapons of our spiritual warfare. With them we go on the offensive against the Evil One. But the virtues provide our defense armor. As Blessed Pope Paul VI once observed, St. Paul ‘used the armor of a soldier as a symbol for the virtues that can make a Christian invulnerable.’ They are our best defense against his attacks, for they guard our minds and hearts from his deceptions and temptations. A lapse in virtue is in fact a chink in our armor that makes us vulnerable.

Paul Thigpen
Manual for Spiritual Warfare,  p. 57-8

Virgin Mary’s Role in the Defeat of Satan

There is a very interesting conference being planned for next week that needs our attention even though the meeting is for clergy and related persons to the field of the spiritual life and exorcism only and the conference is closed to new registrations. The Pope Leo XIII Institute is hosting a conference, “The Virgin Mary’s Role in the Defeat of Satan” at Mundelein Seminary, August 7-12, 2016.

Keep the participants in prayer.

The Big Three of Lent

I saw this post the other day, “The Big Three of Lent.” Thought I would share:

Fasting is not just a spiritual diet. By denying our bodies, our physical hunger reminds us of the hunger of our souls for God, our longing for a deeper relationship with Our Lord.

Almsgiving teaches us to separate ourselves from material possessions. By freely giving of our money and possessions we learn to trust the Lord more deeply for our own daily needs.

Prayer during Lent is a way to stir up our love and enthusiasm by having a deepening conversation with the Almighty. Remember that the light of God’s love shines more brightly in the darkness of the recognition of our own sinfulness.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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