Prayer and the Expanding Heart
The human heart is very complex, often fearful, and quick to withdraw, placing up barriers to keep others out. It is a form of both protection and death since it can become a self-made prison. Some people need to be kept at a distance for many reasons, not all of them bad, but so dysfunctional that they only have their own pain to give. At the beginning of one’s journey towards becoming more loving, which could be many years, discernment is needed. For compulsion, and the desire to save and control, even if unconscious, can cause a great deal of havoc.
The Christian Path is a demanding one. We are called to actually ‘incarnate’ Christ Jesus into the world. To allow His very life to become one with our own life, so as to make us deeply loving human beings. It is a slow process for most of us, and like me, I believe, we are always at the beginning of the journey. The Sermon on the Mount, and on the Plain, show us something of the mercy, and compassion, of God, and how we are to grow into that. It is not done by an act of the will, or even by a desire to ‘do it’, but by the slow process of graces indwelling.
Prayer is how this growth happens. Prayer deepens as we make room for it in our daily lives. At first, it may be a few minutes a day, offered up in the morning, say just 10 minutes. That is a mustard seed of faith, and if this discipline is done faithfully, just ten minutes, growth in love of God and the desire to pray more happens because of grace. That small territory given over to God, slowly expands, until one day, one finds that prayer is like breathing, we do it and we sense change that comes from a place beyond ourselves. Yet so intimate that it is one with our souls, closer than our souls. Something always there, but we were unaware until we began the journey of faith, prayer, and hope. It is love that feeds this inner life.
As prayer deepens, the realization of our unity with all other humans becomes more conscious. This happens because we begin to understand and experience what Jesus taught when he gave his Sermon on the Mount, as well as on the Plain. “For God allows the rain to fall on the thankful and unthankful alike”. All are encased in God’s love, and as we grow in our understanding our oneness with others in Christ Jesus (because he is one with all), we sense a need to be with them in prayer. As we struggle with our own desire to grow into loving beings and to allow God’s grace to transform us, so we begin to have compassion, and love for all, because of the Love of God that is increasing in us. We begin to understand the hundredfold. We over time, learn to forgive, to understand and to have compassion. Even in the midst of emotional turmoil which is simply part of human life. We no longer give power to others to keep us enchained in relationships based on resentment, hatred, and being powerless in forgiveness. For in allowing grace to heal our hearts, and to trust in God’s love for us, and others, we get the gift of universal love for all.
In saying the Rosary, in going deeper into the life of Christ Jesus, this also helps to bring forth the unity that I have with others. For the Our Father, and the Hail Mary is a prayer that is Universal, for all. The Glory Be, is also praising God with my brothers and sister all over the world.
One reason I believe that many Christians fear a deep relationship with Christ Jesus, is because they are fearful of letting go of their narrow approach on how God works in the world…..which is a deep mystery, that we can grow in understanding slowly. I also do not believe that the scriptures are for Christians to line up quotes to pound each other, as well as to superficially judge others who seek God in other religious paths. It is good to study other faith paths, but before that, it is also important to be deeply rooted in one’s own tradition. We all need a place to stand from, and having a deep life of prayer will only strengthen those roots. We worship a God of Infinite love as shown us in the New Testament, especially in the stories that Jesus told. They are there for us to ponder and study, not to just read, and pass on to something else. The word of God is a vehicle of the Holy Spirit to heal our narrow, idolatrous ideas of God, which only add to the pain of the world.
So if anyone wants to grow in compassion and love of others, then pray deeply, open one’s heart and allow grace to do its work.—Br.MD