Friday, 28 May 2010

The Purifying Power of Prayer

The title of this post is the title of the "Meditation of the Day" in Magnificat for today. The meditation is from St Teresa of Avila, and it was this few words that caught my attention:
For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequenly to be alone with him who we know loves us.
I think that the meditation was chosen to go with the Gospel at Mass today, which included the account of Jesus clearing the Temple of the traders (Mk 11:15-19):
Does not scripture say: My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples? But you have turned it into a robber's den.
Now I read these in the context of a recent post about talking in Church, a post based on what St Benedict says about the status of the Oratory in the monastery in Chapter 52 of his Rule:
Let the oratory be what it is called, a place of prayer; and let nothing else be done there or kept there.
In the parish and in the monastery, the Church is the place where the Liturgy is celebrated; and the Liturgy is, generally speaking, a communal prayer rather than just an individual prayer. When we attend Mass we attend along with others, and as we arrive in Church beforehand or stay for a time afterwards, there will be others present in the Church with us.

There seems to me to be a kind of dialectic between the meeting of the individual soul with God - "taking time to be alone with him who we know loves us" - and the fact that this meeting takes place alongside others. This dialectic seems to me to be served by a real, lively participation in the Liturgy, in the sense expected by the Second Vatican Council, combined with respecting the silence of the Church outside of the Liturgical celebration itself.

The Church is the place of the meeting with the Triune God, and so the individual and the others who accompany the individual come to the Church to encounter God. The encounter with each other belongs elsewhere.

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