Recently in Prayer Category



I went to Reconciliation on Wednesday at the Cathedral downtown.  As I walked into the Sanctuary, there was a man on his knees on the bare wood floor in front of the altar.  The area to wait in line for confession is, sadly, almost right next to the altar and as I sat he was right in front of me.  He was a small man, not over 160 pounds, and vaguely oriental looking.  He may have been from Viet Nam or Thailand, not China or Japan.  He was older, his hair going to gray, and wore clean but well worn clothing, very plain and simple.  He held his hands together in a prayer posture and had a Rosary wrapped around his fingers.  As he prayed he periodically made deep bows to the altar in front of him.  After a few minutes he came and sat next to me, hardly filling the hard wood chair, with his knees together, still praying softly under his breath, still gesturing a bow periodically. 


          As I watched him I could only think he was a man overcome by the weight of his sin or, perhaps, some deeply fathomless sorrow.  I don't think I have ever seen a more perfect display of penitence in my life.  Then I looked at the two men ahead of me in line, both middle-aged, one dressed for work as a laborer, the other in sweat pants and shirt.  Neither man prayed that I could tell.  Their times in the confessional were short and it was, in typically American fashion, very business like.  I fit right in with them.


          But as I thought it over, it occurred to me that the man on his knees, rather than being born down by sin and sorrow, was perhaps the product of a culture that understood the majesty and the mystery of what we all were about as we sat there waiting for the priest.  Perhaps his culture had not yet learned to take God for granted, but stood in fear and trembling before the Creator of the universe. 


          I don't know if any of my conjectures are true, but, for one of the few times in my life, I believe I saw exactly what true worship looked like.  It was a humbling experience.

Sowing to Our Own Flesh


For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:8


Listen carefully, my child, to your master's precepts, and incline the ear of your heart (Prov. 4:20). Receive willingly and carry out effectively your loving father's advice, that by the labor of obedience you may return to Him from whom you had departed by the sloth of disobedience. Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict


For we must always so serve Him with the good things He has given us, that He will never as an angry Father disinherit His children, nor ever as a dread Lord, provoked by our evil actions, deliver us to everlasting punishment.  Prologue to the Rule of St Benedict


Reading St. Paul brought the passages from Benedict to mind, which in turn, put a new slant on the way to salvation.  Paul says we should not sow "to our own flesh" which I take to mean, that following our own will and seeking only to please ourselves leads us far from the path to God. 


It occurred to me that, while nearly everyone would say they desire eternal life, i.e. to get to heaven, few people really act like it.  Few people act as if God were watching, and caring about, everything they do.  We like to take little short cuts, and do the easy thing, whether it is a good thing to do or not.  I've known any number of people who would freely do things that are unethical, if not down right dishonest, and easily rationalize it by saying, "Well, business is business."  Yet, they would never treat their friends the way they treat fellow workers or customers, failing to see that the two situations are really not any different.  Simply put, they want to go their own way and do what they want to do and they don't want to deal with the consequences. 


These are usually the same people who would loudly proclaim themselves Christians and proclaim loudly their wish to go to heaven.


Benedict sees clearly that whenever we act to please ourselves and go our own way, we are in danger of ending up with an angry Father who may well deny us admission to eternal bliss, in fact, deliver us "to eternal punishment."  He knows the little things add up and I pray that I will begin to take his teaching to heart.

St. John Climacus on Repentence


Repentance is the renewal of baptism. Repentance is a contract
with God for a second life. A penitent is a buyer of humility.
Repentance is constant distrust of bodily comfort. Repentance is
self-condemning reflection, and carefree self-care. Repentance is
the daughter of hope and the renunciation of despair. A penitent
is an undisgraced convict. Repentance is reconciliation with the
Lord by the practice of good deeds contrary to the sins.
Repentance is purification of conscience. Repentance is the
voluntary endurance of all afflictions. A penitent is the
inflicter of his own punishments. Repentance is a mighty
persecution of the stomach, and a striking of the soul into
vigorous awareness.

St. John Climacus



(From Daily E-Pistle)

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me
here, ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and
guide. Amen

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