September 9, 2010

The Ways of Prayer - Prostration

Among the Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic, he seems to have associated prostration with the gift of tears.  To really weep, to have one's heart punctured by the reality of a situation, this is the first step to real conversion.  And to prostrate oneself - to throw oneself flat on the ground - is a gesture not only of humility but also of begging.  It is in fact a pleading for mercy.  Because wanting to change and being able to change are two different things.  For a person to truly be able to change, he needs more than good intentions, he needs God's mercy.  Mercy is love that suffers the affliction of another so that person's dignity might be rescued.   Such love is a total free gift, a gift no one has a right to.  Yet the restoration of our dignity, the dignity of the sons and daughters of God, is something we all vitally need.  That is why, in asking for mercy, prostration is a fitting gesture to make with our body.  It is a gesture that says to God - "I am not worthy to have you come under my roof" and "Even the dogs receive their master's table scraps."  And if we feel like we no longer need to beg God for mercy for ourselves, then St. Dominic instructed his friars to shed tears of compunction for the world.