09 January 2009

Why We Must Pray

The reasons for praying are as numerous as they are imperative. They correspond to all our needs without exception, and to all occasions. They are also in accord with the favors we receive in answer to our prayers and to God's rights over His creatures.

Our divine Master's word has explored and lighted up everything, our human world and God's world. He revealed the powerlessness of the first when He said: “Without Me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

We have read these words often enough, but without penetrating them. We no more understand the “Nothing” than we do the “All”. The nature of our being does not allow us to understand it. We do not look at our tiny being as it actually is in the light of the “All”. We do not compare the hours of our life, so short and transient, with God's changeless eternity. We do not see the place we occupy in the universe as compared to His immensity, which infinitely overflows our tiny universe, and could embrace numberless others, far greater than ours. Above all, we forget that our being is not ours. Moment by moment we receive the tiny drop of being that God designs to give us. The only reason we have it is because He gives it to us; and having received it, immediately it begins to dissolve; it slips through our fingers and is replaced by another which escapes us with the same rapidity. All this being comes from God and returns to Him; it depends upon Him alone. We are like vessels into which He pours that being drop by drop, so as to create a bond of dependence upon Him, whereby His Being is manifested and made known and, when lovingly welcomed, is glorified.

Prayer is this intelligent vessel, which knows, loves, thanks and glorifies. It says, in effect: My God, the present moment and the light by which I am aware of it, comes from You. My mind, which appreciates it; the upward leaping of my heart which responds to that recognition and thanks You for it; the living bond created by this moment -- all is from You. Everything comes from You. All that is within me, all that is not You; all created beings and their movements; my whole being and its activities all is from You. Without You nothing exists; apart from You is just nothingness; apart from Your Being there is merely non- existence.

How this complete dependence, upon which I have so often and so deeply meditated, ought to impress me! I feel that it plunges me into the depths of reality, into truth. Nevertheless, it does not completely express that reality. There was a time when this nothingness rose up in opposition to “Him Who is”. It wanted to be independent of Him; it put itself forward, refused to obey Him and cut itself off from Him. It made war on Him and became His enemy. It destroyed His Image in the heart's citadel where hitherto He had reigned, and usurped His Throne. These are only metaphors, and they do not do justice to the real horror of the plight created by sin; but we must be content with them, as they are all we have. We must remember, however, that they are completely inadequate.

And every day we add to this predicament, already so grave. Every personal sin of ours is an acceptance of this state: we choose it, we love it and prefer it to union with God. We lap up, as it were, these sins like water. We take pleasure in plunging into them as into a stream, the waters of which rise persistently, and in time overwhelm us and carry us away. They toss us about like a straw, and submerge us. Thoughts, feelings, words, really bad acts and innumerable omissions fill our days and nights, and intermingle, more or less consciously, with our every movement, and at all hours. They spoil the purity of our ordinary actions such as eating and drinking; they introduce themselves into our sleep and mix with our waking movements, and with our external acts as with our most intimate thoughts. Because of our fallen state, everything becomes matter and occasion to drag us down further into evil.

~Dom Augustin Guillerand (1877-1945)~