Prayer is a human act, but above all a gift of God, a moment of mercy, an opening to the mysteries of God’s closeness.
Prayer is a human act, but above all a gift of God, a moment of mercy, an opening to the mysteries of God’s closeness. She learns how to open up to God’s world and confidently set out on the path to meet God. The Holy Scriptures call a life marked and “breathed” by prayer “a change before the face of God”. The first monks knew that prayer is a great effort that requires energy and perseverance. The journey to the interior is long and very tiring. There may be moments of enlightenment on it, but it is only God who can give us the light that grows. “Prayer changes”, it changes us and our view of the world. Great prayers realized that true prayer sharpens our view of people, things and events: we see things and events more and more in the light of God. Prayer is the experience of God’s closeness – or the longing for that closeness.
Supplicants are people who are looking for an encounter; and if they are Christians, they seek the presence of Christ in their lives. Saint Benedict considers the search for God to be the most important criterion for the call to monastic life. And for us, the question remains whether we truly and resolutely seek God all our lives. This search can become something like the atmosphere in which we spend our lives. The ideal that one’s whole life should be imbued and carried by prayer was called “permanent prayer” by the old monks. “Memoria dei”, to be with God with the heart, is one such spiritual yearning and desire to meet God that fills the heart. Prayer is a spiritual gift, an act of mercy, it is more something that is given to us than something that we do ourselves.
The path of prayer, which can be long and arduous, is actually the growth of sensibility for the mystery of God’s closeness. It leads to a real encounter with God, which is hoped for by everyone who sets out on the path of prayer.
The liturgy is Opus Dei, because it reveals what lives in the hearts of all of us. Participation in the liturgy requires a certain inner attitude, as the 19th chapter of the “Rules” of St. Benedict. Striving to be committed is a conscious act of faith.
When the liturgy is an expression of the community’s faith, it is then the place where the community is nourished and shaped. “Personal” prayer cannot simply replace that. Although it is also necessary, the place where the Holy Spirit resides is still a community that prays and glorifies God.
It is indisputable that it is precisely the prayer of the Hours for St. Benedikta, a place and space where the community is perceived as a whole.
Common and personal prayer condition and complement each other.
The prayer as described in the 20th chapter of the “Rules” of St. Benedict, the prayer of the “poor man”. It is a pleading, fervent prayer that knows its own scarcity and addresses the one who is the beginning and source of everything. It is not expressed in many words, but is manifested in anticipation and trust. Devotion to prayer in all its simplicity and plainness is the key to commitment to the monastic life.
Sr. Simone Weinkopf OSB