Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The weeping class…

“Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:5)

In this Beatitude, Jesus praises the weeping class, those who can enter into solidarity with the pain of the world and not try to extract themselves from it.

The weeping mode, if I can call it that, allows one to carry the dark side, to bear the pain of the world without looking for perpetrators or victims, but instead recognizing the tragic reality that both sides are caught up in. Tears from God are always for everybody, for our universal exile from home.

Richard Rohr, from Jesus’ Plan for the New World


It is difficult to speak of the aim or goal of [contemplative] prayer, for there is a sense in which it is a process of union which is as infinite as it is intimate... The meaning and design of the Jesus Prayer is an ever deepening union with God, within the communion of saints. It is personal, corporate and eternal, and the great mystics, in the Biblical tradition, come to an end of words. They say that "eye has not seen nor ear heard", they speak of “joy unspeakable” and “groanings unutterable” and “peace that passes understanding”.

But there are some things which we can say, which are derivative of that central core of ineffable experience. We can say that such prayer contains within itself a new theology of intercession. It is not that we are continually naming names before God, and repeating stories of pain, suffering and bereavement on an individual and corporate level, but rather that we are able to carry the sorrows and pains of the world with us into such contemplative prayer as opens before us in the use of the Jesus Prayer. God knows, loves and understands more than we do, and he carries us into the dimension of contemplative prayer and love, and effects salvation, reconciliation and healing in his own way, using us as the instruments of his peace, pity and compassion.

Thus we can say that the “prayer of the heart” unites us with the whole order of creation, and imparts to us a cosmic awareness of the glory of God in both the beauty and the sadness of the world. The process of transfiguration for the whole world has begun in the Gospel, but it will not be completed until the coming of Christ in glory. And until that time we are invited, through prayer, to participate in the healing of the world's ills by the love of God. And if we participate at such a level, then we shall know both pain and glory. The life and ministry of Jesus in the gospels reveal this dimension, for Jesus was at one and the same time the “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”, and the transfigured healer, manifesting the glory of the Father upon the holy mountain.

Brother Ramon SSF Praying the Jesus Prayer Marshall Pickering 1988 (now unfortunately out of print)

As intercessors, all God asks of us is broken hearts—we do not need to find solutions to the prayers we pray, nor just the right words to frame them. God knows what is on our hearts (Romans 8:26-27)—we need only be honest and courageous enough to feel: feel the pain and the grief and the confusion and betrayal and despair the world feels, and to come before our Lord and Saviour with them on our hearts, and ask for God's mercy in the holy name of Jesus.

I suppose this more or less sums up all that God has shown me about prayer over the years. There really aren’t words for anything else I might want, or be able, to say about it. These few will have to do for the moment…


St Edwards Blog said...

Your words interspersed with the words of Brother Ramon and of Rohr are brilliant. I am very agitated today and coming here was like finding sweet water in the desert.

Thank you always.

Overall I am having a nice day but I must say that I feel like I have secretly been in the "weeping class" of late, for many reasons.

I am sorry for my long absence and grateful to have returned to this place for friendship, community and always so much to think and pray about.

Jan said...

Fran and Mike, you both spoke to me with your thoughts on tears. It is hard for me to give in to tears, and those times are when I resist God's grace. . . it's a growing edge for me.

Mike Farley said...

Thank you both. I am always amazed at the capacity of the blogosphere to nourish real friendships across any distance, and all sorts of other boundaries. You two are shining examples of that, for which more thanks than I can tell!

With lots of virtual hugs...


Barbara said...

God gave me a tear-ful nature. At times it is embarrassing and gets out of hand. When I am in balance, those tears are prayer beyond words. It is a way of releasing all the pain we absorb.