LET IT aLL sTART hERE
For Catholics who care...
In search of what a travel agent assured her was paradise, a woman I knew made a pilgrimage to Bali. When she returned she commented: “The thing that struck me most was the way the natives prayed to their gods throughout the day. They would stop whatever they were doing…mid-morning…late afternoon…evening… to make some small gesture of faith. They would light a candle, braid flowers into a crown and adorn a statue...sing a prayer...." She sighed: "We don't do that here."
I listened intently, imagining what she described. I could see paradise with my mind’s eye and I recognized its inhabitants: Child-like, trusting, uncomplicated men and women.
I mused: We don't do it as much; some don't do it at all...this thing called prayer. This activity called worship. But then again, the United States is far too sophisticated, too technologically advanced, too distracted by celebrity lifestyles, sports, or our phones to see the value in being grateful to a power outside of this world.
Pray to whom…for what? Is what most people would say if asked: Do you stop and pray during the day? Or for that matter, do you pray at all?
I believe one reason why prayer is neglected is because people tend to think they are more “self-reliant” than they should. People convince themselves that they are their own god. They are the master of their own destiny. They are who they are and what they have become—they did it all on their own. So why should they be thankful? Unless, of course, they have a bad run of luck… then the first thing they do is complain about what God hasn’t done for them or has done to them.
Ronald Rolheiser, a specialist in the fields of spirituality and systematic theology wrote in his book Sacred Fire:
Prayer, as it is understood in all its best traditions, Christian
and other, is meant to do two things for us, both at the same
time: prayer is meant to connect us to divine energy, even
as it makes us aware that this energy is not our own, that it
comes from elsewhere, and that we may never identify with it.
Authentic prayer, in effect, fills us with divine energy and tells
us at the same time that this energy is not our own, that it works
through us, but that it is not us. To be healthy, we need both: if we
lose connection to divine energy, we drain of energy, depress,
and feel empty. Conversely, if we let divine energy flow into us
but identify with it, somehow thinking that it is our own, we
become grandiose, inflated with self-importance and arrogance,
and become selfish and destructive. (Pg.171)
Sound familiar? This is the reason why…we don’t do it (pray) here. And while the woman who shared her experience of paradise with me might not have recognized what she was witnessing, she did, on an intuitive level, understand that too much goes missing (paradise) in a world without God.