October 17, 2011

Prayer and Theology

There are some who believe prayer and theology are opposed undertakings or at least activities that have nothing in common.   Those who espouse such a view often reduce prayer to simply an impulse of the will towards God or else a psychic state or a strong feeling  produced by spiritual exercises.  They also look at theology as a kind of product derived from scholarly inquiry into arcane questions or even a chess game of sophisticated skepticism in which careful and clever observations are proposed without ever committing the pieces.  For those who espouse such an approach theology rarely gets to breath in the fresh air of heaven and prayer remains prisoner of the preoccupations of one's own psyche.

There is a different kind of theology which frees prayer so that it might walk with the Living God and there is a different kind of prayer that breaths life into theology so that it rises up into the very life God.  Such prayer and study are filled with the Holy Spirit.  They involve putting on the mind of Christ.  For both real prayer and true theology are meant to participate by grace won for us on the Cross in the reciprocal gaze of love shared by the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit - that eternal act of knowing love and loving knowledge that knows no end.  The briefest moment of such contemplation in the midst of prayer imbued study or theologically purified prayer flashes with a loving Light, a burning Wisdom in which one can never live the same way again.  It is so intimate and personal, immense and cosmic all at the same time - because such is God.  When you meet Him in your prayer and study, a deeper conversion, a deeper love, a deeper kind of life opens up - and one simply cannot go back to the way things were before.

Prayer born of study is open to a foretaste of the wedding feast that awaits those who are faithful.  Study pregnant with prayer discovers that the deepest yearnings of the heart are raised up and ignited as the highest powers of the mind are captivated and renewed.  Such prayer and such study converge in a humble kind of knowing which exceeds all natural modes of knowledge, which is like not knowing - or rather a knowing nothing but Christ and Him crucified.