February 29, 2012

Of Prayer and Preachers

In response to the last post about what it is like to encounter the Lord in prayer, one of our readers asked how we know that this encounter is real and not the product of our imagination. This is an important question. If we cannot be confident on this point, we cannot have confidence in prayer at all. The whole deal could be an elaborate self-deception.  St. Augustine has this very concern at the beginning of his Confessions. He answers his own question by asserting that this is the very reason we need preachers.

Thank you preachers of the Body of Christ, the Church, who love us enough to tell us about the Lord! Whether our parents, our elders, our children, our brothers and sisters, our ministers, our bishops, our priests, our deacons: if we believe what the Church proposes to us through them, then our prayer is not subject to the narrow confines of our own big fat egos or the fickle fantasies of the moment.  How great and precious the mystery of faith!   It gives us real access to God quite apart from what we feel or think.  It is the source of new life even in our weaknesses and inadequacies.  By faith, Christ animates us even when we are overwhelmed by trials, even when we cross the Valley of Death.   It is no small treasure that is offered us when someone discloses to us the hope we have in Christ - the reason for our hope.

It is that world might know these riches of Christ that the Church exists.  And woe unto us who are silent about this Gift for God has suffered that it might be shared and the world desperately suffers without it.  Though the eloquent of speech cannot find words to adequately express what God has done, if we take seriously what has been given us we Christians have no excuse to remain silent.  Before the mystery of what Christ has done for us, we must speak up and make our voices heard even when enemies of spiritual liberty attempt to silence us.