October 21, 2010

Prayer and Creation

Christian prayer is rooted in creation because the true Christian accepts the fundamental goodness of God's work.    Ancient Christian thinkers loved to ponder this point.  For example, Dionysius Areopagite taught how the Lord created the world with a diversity aimed at manifesting his own incomprehensible goodness and inexhaustible glory.  Such faith recieves the world as a gift - and the more profoundly this gift is recieved, the purer and deeper its ability to give thanks. Christian prayer drinks in the manifold diversityof creation and discerns in the harmony of the things that exist Someone who is love.  Here, St. John ofthe Cross believes that even inanimate objects can be messangers that wound the soul with God's love -- for mystics like him, creation becomes an invitation, an ever unfolding epiphany of a surprising truth, a deeply stirring theophany knocking at the heart.
This is especially true of the human person, the particular man or woman, son or daughter, parent or child entrusted to me and you right now by God.  The path to God is not by a method that takes me away from them or raises me above the struggles of our frail humanity - it is through the Cross, and the Cross alone, which God has given me the privilege to help them carry.  But this Cross cannot be carried without prayer - so lets pray for one another.  Whoever you are, what you are, in all your suffering splendor is irrepeatably precious, for you too are part of his great work - and it is God's will that you not perish, even if you stand at the threshold of death.  Because He has entered our world with the desire to save us, our hidden struggles are not senseless, our personal plight not unnoticed. 

The Author of Creation, by becoming one of us, has shown us the path to become fully ourselves, to real human freedom, to the greatness of our humanity.  It is the path of humility, of accepting we are not God and need God.  We who are limited, frail and vulnerable - we who struggle not to deem equality with God something to be grasped at - all this struggle is uniquely yours and mine, an unrepeatable creative work which we possess when we, like our crucified God, empty ourselves.  Behold, the greatness of the humanity entrusted to us individually and together.  You who yearn for God, who struggle to be true to Him, your goodness and nobility are most clearly manifest in that inner poverty that God cannot resist and yearns to fill with his love - yes, you yourself, He wills to live forever with Him.