The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Persuading God

It is clear that he does not pray, who, far from uplifting himself to God, requires that God shall lower Himself to him, and who resorts to prayer not to stir the man in us to will what God wills, but only to persuade God to will what the man in us wills.
St. Thomas Aquinas

Every one has been there. A situation or circumstance in life develops that one has no idea how to handle or does not feel he has the strength to cope, and in desperation, prayers get launched to God imploring Him to make things better. An urgent plea to change reality and make it something different is the request. And if that entreaty seems to fall on deaf ears then faith, hope and even love of God starts to wane.

The chasm between ourselves and God is largely man made. For it remains the tendency of humanity to place God in a distant location on high; watching over His creation and waiting for one to die in order to be judged. When adversity strikes one naturally hopes to get the attention of this powerful being to perform an intercession. Even if prayers are not spoken aloud, they are shouted by one's soul.

What if one's prayer was a less an act of persuasion and more of an elevation to the will of God? The Almighty certainly has given all free will, and out of love, He doesn't tamper with that most perfect design. Prayer may indeed be better seen as an ultimate affirmation that one embraces the will of God. The book of Job in sacred scripture perhaps best illustrates this in the Old Testament, and Christ gave us the Lord's Prayer to more define how we are to pray in the New Testament.

Oneness perhaps comes the closest to best summarizing and understanding God's will where man must elevate his thoughts and actions. All of the sacraments point to oneness. Baptism claims one's soul for the mystical body of Christ. Confirmation strengthens that claim into oneness with the body of Christ and His Church. Eucharist is that most intimate physical encounter with being one with Christ. Reconciliation provides the means to come home when one has stepped outside of that oneness. Anointing of the sick prepares one for the final journey into oneness from this temporal experience. Holy Orders brings the ordained into a state of oneness that straddles the temporal and eternal. And finally, marriage which shows how oneness perfectly cooperates with God's will for creation and serves as an icon for the eternal relationship one ultimately achieves with the mystical body of Christ.

It is providential that the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, February 14th, proclaims what is often referred to as the Sermon on the Plain, or Luke's version of Christ teaching of the beatitudes. They are words of wisdom as one prepares for the season of Lent as they reflect what man looks like when he is in oneness with God's will. It's difficult to read that for man to be in conformity with God's will he is poor, hungry, mournful, and persecuted. It is Christ's allegorical way of saying that to be one with the will of the Divine, one has to be the opposite of oneness with the fallen world where success would best be defined as rich, full, happy, and aggrandized. It's not that any of the temporal blessings of God are evil, but rather the failing comes in not recognizing those blessings belonging to the will of God and thus they are inherently intended for a higher purpose than solely serving their recipient's pleasure.

And Jesus entered the temple of God and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, "It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you make it a den of robbers." And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant; and they said to him, "Do you hear what these are saying?" And Jesus said to them, "Yes; have you never read, `Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast brought perfect praise'?"
Matthew 21:12-16

Let prayer become a helping hand to Christ as he cleanses the temple of one's very being. Do not allow the money-changers in one's heart, that is to say the sinful will, to defile this place of worship. Do not try to persuade Him to let you keep this or that imperfection because it brings you comfort or security of some kind in this world. Pray for conformity to God's will and see the healing of one's soul that can be attained. The areas where one is blind to grace will become enlightened. The areas where one is crippled will be made whole. Then as a child, sing the song of perfect praise Christ referred to as he reminded the chief priests to reread Psalm 8.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.