Penance and Prayer

Hilary White posted a great little TED talk today, all about quitting Social Media.

Really, what would do without the time-sucking habit of social media? I can think of quite a lot actually, most of which has to do with prayer. (In fact her post is all about prayer, and becoming a saint.) To be fair, some of that time would no doubt be devoted to the paycheck sucking habit of photography, which has once again been lighting up my life. But social media can be – while a great way to keep in touch – also a waste of time, a hindrance to prayer.

Which, coincidentally, I was thinking about just today because I was outlining a book about prayer. Prayer has so many forms, and we should avail ourselves of creativity in exploring the world of prayer. What does the Bible have to say? Each book of it is, in its own way, a sort of relational

Personal prayer, liturgical prayer, meditative prayer, contemplative prayer, spoken prayer. Then the strange examples we see in the life of Jesus – He groaned from the depths of His spirit; He sighed from the depths of is being; he went up to the mountaintop and prayed all night.

Going up to the mountaintop is an interesting concept in and of itself. The mountains in the Holy Land aren’t the Himalayas, but they aren’t exactly hills. Going to the top would take most of a day, during which conversation might take place with the disciples or the apostles. It would also involve rest and refreshment. So we see the idea from Psalm 95, repeated in the Letter to the Hebrews, of entering into the Lord’s rest.

Shutting things down, heading to the high place, and entering into the Lord’s rest. Or – asking Him for the grace to enter into His rest.

We can read all the books in the world about how to pray. (We can read St. Ignatius who is evry clear.) Really, the Lord has given us so many great examples, He’s given us the Mass and the entire sacramental life of the Church which we should ideally carry into the moments of our daily lives. He’s given us the examples in Scripture, of the lives of the saints; fasting, penance, praise, glorfying, magnifying. Ultimately, we should ask the Lord how to pray, and just start doing it.

This will prove a fruitful line of thought.



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