What do we know
about God? We know that He lives in inaccessible
light. Even when we use the word ‘He’ it is because
of the inadequacy of human language. Whether we
use ‘He’ or ‘She’ does not matter. Both are inadequate
because God is different. To know God is so far
beyond the human mind that it becomes a matter
for each of us to allow God to tell us about himself.
Fortunately, He has already reached out, or down
(as you prefer) to us. Over the centuries he introduced
Himself little by little to his Chosen People,
helping them gradually to purify the ideas they
had about Him. People whose names we know were
given insight into the nature of God: Abraham,
Moses, Elijah, Hosea, Isaiah and so on. But of
course there were many nameless people who assisted
in the deepening of faith. Hosea, Isaiah, Elijah
could not have had the deepening of the faith
that was theirs without the support of those,
family and others, whose thoughts they shared.
That is the way God chooses to work. He brings
us along together, gradually, with at times a
leap forward. There was long preparation for the
supreme act of involvement of God with the world
when He sent his Son to enter human society at
the human level at a time that He judged best.
This process of God telling his people about himself
goes on still, as God tries to form a close relationship
with each one of us
St John describes this process of God becoming
man as: “In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was God . . .
and the Word was made flesh and lived among us.”
Obviously, the Word first of all is spoken. That
is the way words are. When a word is spoken it
is meant to be heard. It demands to be listened
to. If Jesus Christ is the Word of God, and the
eternal Son of God at that, then He is still spoken
(if one can put it like that) and He is still
to be heard. But where is this spoken Word available
to us? The answer obviously is in Sacred Scripture,
in the Bible. We hear the Word spoken at Mass
in the readings. Being the Word, we repeat, the
reading is meant to be listened to, not read out
of a book or missalette along with the reader.
The reader may put things in a slightly different
way from me, allowing me a different insight perhaps.
The Word of God is not just something we can take
or leave on our way to the sacrifice of the Mass
and Holy Communion. St Jerome put it very clearly
when he said: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is
ignorance of Christ.” If God wishes to tell me
about Himself in a new, more personal way, who
am I to say ‘No, thanks!’?
WITH THE WORD
|For any sort of prayer there
are a few simple things we need to keep in
|1. That we establish a regular
time. The length will depend on what you can
cope with in starting out: ten or fifteen
minutes, perhaps. Fix on a time of day when
you can allow yourself that time.
|2. Stay with that time each
day. That may be easy on some days and not
so easy on others. Sometimes we may have to
grit our teeth, when we find it a struggle.
|3. Wind down and relax. Take
time to come to terms with the stresses and
strains of the day, filing some things away
for future action. Inevitably there will be
distractions but these are lessened if we
do not rush into prayer.
|4. Find a place that is quiet
and shut the door.
|5. Make sure we are breathing
easily, slowly, calmly.
|6. Begin with the Sign of the
Cross, or with some short prayer of your own
choosing, which you repeat a few times.
|7. Take the passage of Scripture
you wish to focus on and read it slowly and
reverently— aloud if you wish-- allowing the
words to settle in your mind.
|8. Stay with any sentence or
passage in the reading that strikes you. Does
it fit in with your own experience or with
that of other people close to you? Does it
show you something that seems new to you?
|9. You may wish to read the
10. Allow what has struck
you to lead you into prayer – for example,
thanksgiving, for what Jesus has chosen
to do for us;
humility, about sin, weakness and forgiveness;
petition , that we may be led on by the
grace of God; and for others . . . ?
The purpose of praying like this is NOT to find
a message telling me how to live. It is rather
to meet God present in his Word and present to
me through his Word. This sort of prayer feeds
the imagination rather than just the mind. It
changes us not by giving us lessons on morals
or doctrine, but by allowing us to recognise ourselves
in the people we meet as we read, like Jesus,
or Martha and Mary, or the apostles when they
are jealous, or Mary of Nazareth when she stops
to think about what it all means. In this way
we come close to Jesus in his humanity and discover
that our joys and our shortcomings are all part
of the way we come to God. This website provides
reflections on the Sunday gospels of Lent, which
may help you get started.