June 11, 2008, 10:00 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Chloe, Featured  | 1 Comment

— I —

I don\’t know how to pray. I ask God to forgive my sins and take care of my family and heal this or that other person, but it\’s as if, as has been said before, my prayers aren\’t reaching beyond the ceiling.

But that\’s not it, exactly. It\’s not that I feel like God is ignoring me. I feel like my words are missing something, and I have no idea what.

— II —

I went to a new church last Sunday. I didn\’t care for the sermon too much. The lay pastor tried to prove Jesus\’ Christology through reason, something I believe cannot be done, just like you can\’t prove God\’s existence — that\’s the profound beauty of faith. Sunday school, on the other hand, was remarkable. We watched a video done by Walter Wangerin concerning the four steps of prayer: we speak, God listens; God speaks, we listen. This was the final lecture of the series, regarding emptiness before God. Wangerin told about a life-changing decision he had been praying about, sure that he would be receptive to what God would say to him. But Wangerin heard nothing, and nothing, and nothing. Only after driving through the treacherous Alaskan hills in a snowstorm, where one misstep meant the end of his life, did he hear God\’s answer. He was empty before God, finally depending on Him completely to survive moment by moment. That is when God spoke.

— III —

The Carthusian order of monks is considered the most strict and austere of the Catholic orders. Founded in 1084, the order has changed only trivially in the last millennia. Carthusian monks depend on solitude for their spiritual formation, and entry into the order is difficult simply because many men would go crazy for the silence.

The Carthusians devote their lives purely to prayer. To them, prayer ranges from liturgy and study to petitions and meditation. The monks teach the novices that the purpose of the endless hours of meditation is to empty oneself and hear God speak.

— IV —

I do not know how to pray. I am missing something vital, something I suspect no one can teach me — I have to discover it for myself. And so instead of praying loudly in my head, asking for this or giving thanks for that, I will sit quietly, empty myself of my life in this world, and listen for God\’s voice in the silence.


1 Comment to “Silence”

  1. Marcus Greylight on June 15th, 2008 8:34 pm

    I love the Carthusians. “Into Great Silence” is well worth the tedious/boring bits.

    But as to religious truth (e.g. Christology) being proved by reason, my take is this: although many aspects of faith rest on mystery, I do think that faith itself is necessarily irrational. We can never completely fathom any one mystery, but I believe that given enough time and a perfect instructor (i.e. Christ), even Christology could be explained in ways that appeal to reason.

    I guess what I am saying is that as necessary as mystery is, I shy away from statements that would imply that reason and faith are not compatible. I suppose you’re not saying that directly, but I don’t agree that the supreme beauty of faith is a lack of reason… I think that the beauty fo faith is the evolution of mystical reason as our eyes are formed by intimacy with the divine. This mysticism is not an anti-reason but is, rather, a perfection of reason. We begin to see beyond the pasteboard articiality of social constructs to the deeper ontological facts of the world (natural and supernatural). If our faith is true it is objectively true… and if reason is of any merit, it must (given the proper data) point us toward that mystical truth.

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