Monday, July 31, 2006

"Can prayer help?": Archbishop Martin on Prayer Bishop Rowell's recent "Credo" column, excerpted below, was meant to describe a "meaningful pattern of prayer" in response to the skeptic's question: "But is prayer only a matter of last resort, a cry of desperation or dereliction?" In this post, I would like to focus on those moments of desperation and dereliction, especially in light of the situation in the Middle East. In a July 22nd homily at a Mass for Peace in that region, Archbishop Diarmaid Martin of Dublin asked the inevitable question about prayer that arises when we face desperation: How does prayer really help? Here is an excerpt from his sermon: Can prayer help? Some may think that is just idealistic and of no effect in the “real world”. The believer, however, knows that God is the only one who has constantly remained faithful to his people. At every stage in human history, despite the infidelity of his people, God has remained faithful and has come to the aid of those who follow his path with fidelity. Prayer is above all a humble placing of ourselves in the presence of God who is totally other. He is truth, and goodness and love. By placing ourselves simply in his presence and recognising his total otherness we also change ourselves. When we see that God is totally other, we recognise that everything we have is gift. We cannot thus allow ourselves or others use the things of the world for any purpose that would betray God’s design. When we are men and women of prayer we can only be people of peace, who wish to see all humankind live in harmony together and live in harmony with the all of God’s creation. Placing ourselves in an attitude of prayer we witness to how humans should behave towards each other and towards all of creation. Prayer is not just a private conversation between you or me and God. Prayer is a placing myself into a new kind of relationship with God and with others. We place ourselves in the presence of Jesus Christ who came to reveal what God is like and to bring his peace, as we heard in the reading, to all whether they are far way or near at hand, since he is the one who has broken down all barriers. We pray that in that land which is holy to Christian, Jew and Muslim alike, religious leaders will become more effective witnesses to the unity of all humankind.

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