Friday, October 15, 2010

Praying always without being weary.

I had the good fortune of seeing a dramatised version of CS Lewis 'The Screwtape Letters'. I think there will be weeks of homilies in that one. Its amazing how different the storyline of a book can be when it is acted out. Of course, there is always a risk that a film version, or a stage production of a great work will not do justice to the original; and there a countless examples of that. The original is always so much better, particularly with a book. You can savor certain passages, mull over them and re-read them, letting your imagination create all kinds of images that are as unique as the ideas of the author. But this was different, is was almost a word for word dramatisation and it brought to life ideas and images in a way a reading might just miss. Often you have to listen carefully to the source to get real meaning.

Jesus encourages us to pray. Just think about that for a moment. Jesus encourages his disciples to pray always without getting weary. The image of the widow and the unjust judge of the Gospel paints a very vivid picture, but go back a step - pray without getting weary.

I get weary praying. I try, I really do, but I just can't manage to get the art as much as I desire to. The Divine Office, fine, the Rosary in this month, very powerful, adoration of the Eucharist and Mass- all part of life, but, I don't seem to be able to do what the Lord asks - pray without ceasing, without becoming weary. But that is the invitation, the Lord wishes us to pray without getting weary.
I am always struck about the image of St Patrick on the mountain when it comes to prayer - actually there were a number of mountains - but there are two I am thinking of. The first was when he was slave. I presume he was very young, a boy, or a teenager. He was taken slave and landed on a mountainside minding the animals. In his Confessions, he tells us that here he learned to pray up to a hundred times a day and night. He was 'cut off from the land of the living', and all he could depend on was God. And he tells us himself that before this time he did not know God. He prayed- he talked to God- and he found him and became a saint. The second mountain was when he was a missionary in Ireland. This time he spent forty days on the mountain we call Crough Patrick. This time he went himself into exile to pray and fast and find God in his prayer and his penance. The first mountain helped him find God, the second helped him keep him in contact with Him whom he had found.
Prayer can be wearysome - no voices, no visions, not revelations, often no comfort. But we keep doing it, we keep doing it, because we love the one we come in contact with. In our transitory world, if it does not 'feel' good, it is often disregarded as broken. If we do not get sensory feeling of pleasure or whatever we are looking for we dismiss it. Prayer does not always guarantee us a feeling of elation, but as long as we pray we are putting ourselves in the line of God's grace. He forms us, often in silence. Screwtape describes the road to hell as soft and steady, a gentle slope with not lights or signposts - prayer can often be the gentle and hidden - but it works.
This week, we are encouraged to pray without becoming weary. And if we are weary, all he have to do is look at Him whose arms are not held outstretched by two assistants, but by two nails.

1 comment:

  1. Nice reference to Moses and prayer at the end there. I always find that passage when Moses prays at the top of the mountain while Joshua battles below such an encouragement. I have felt the reality of that in my own ministry here when I have been in the middle of a difficult pastoral or personal situation and, after getting through it by God's grace alone, someone with a much stronger prayer life than me phones or writes to tell you that at that exact time they were moved to pray for me. They were the Moses to my Joshua.

    On a slightly more practical note, I have always been told that keeping a simple prayer diary helps to keep you going in prayer. What do you think?