By “the Holy Spirit” we refer to the divine presence at work in our souls—that is, in our minds and hearts. The Spirit gives us an undying yet ever changing sense of communion with that which we call “God,” who is ever beyond our understanding. The divine is “known” through love, not through conceptual knowledge (words). The Spirit is “the love of God poured into our hearts” (Romans 5), and the power enabling us to love one another—indeed, every creature—as a being in divine Being. To the lover of God, every being, everything that exists, is a manifestation of the ultimate mystery. To one moved by the Spirit, every creature is a revelation of the unseen God, a unique and unrepeatable presentation of He Who Is, YHWH.
In the Eucharistic celebration (the Mass), we pray in words, because our prayer is at once individual and communal, and as such is spoken or sung aloud. In solitude, or “when two or three are gathered in my Name,” then we grow silent, and allow the Spirit to pray in us, with us, through us, for us. Genuine prayer is always the work of the holy Spirit, not of a self-centered or self-contained human being. If we seek to pray without an awareness of the presence of the Spirit, we are talking at our image of God, rather than communing with God. The less one works, the more one trusts the divine Presence, the more genuine and fruitful the prayer, “Now I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2). If one must use words in prayer, let the words be taught by the Spirit, not generated by one’s private imagination or ego. The words taught by the Spirit are understood by the Spirit, and may or may not be intelligible to the human being sharing in the prayer. Better still is to be still and quiet, resting yet attentive to the One who simply is utterly simple, here and now, beyond all words and concepts, beyond feelings and imaginings. In the prayer of quiet, one becomes quiet, like a lake without wind, waveless, a sea of glass before the divine source. In stillness one abides in divine stillness.
Beginning shortly after Pentecost this year, we shall offer sessions on prayer. When and where to offer these practical sessions remains open, but St. Mary’s, Raynesford, seems to be a very good setting for prayer of quiet. Perhaps another weekly session could be offered at St. Mark’s on a week-night, concurrently or at a later time. Thought will be given to times and locations, and suggestions are welcomed, but all wishes may not be met.
Sitting in silence: “When I sent you out, with nothing, did you lack anything?”