Saturday, July 21, 2012

Colorado: Prayer Couldn't Hurt

I doubt that many folks in the English-speaking world don't know about what happened in Colorado. The Batman movie shootings have dominated broadcast news for about 36 hours. Here's another view of the situation:
"Denver: Shock at tragedy, prayers for victims and survivors"
Vatican Radio, via (July 20, 2012)

"Joint Statement of Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Bishop James Conley

"Last night at the Century Movie Theater in Aurora, a gunman walked into a full theater and opened fire on scores of moviegoers. In the largest mass shooting in America in more than five years, 12 people were killed and about 50 were wounded by gunfire. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy. Our hearts and prayers go out to those impacted by this evil act.

"In the chaos of the moment, people poured from the movie theater into the darkness of the night—the darkness of confusion, of ambiguity, of despair. We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters cast into that darkness. They do not stand alone. As Catholic bishops, we 'weep with those who weep.'...
 Over on Google+, I've been in a few discussions about the tragedy.

Tragedy and the Usual Nonsense

There's the usual assortment of conspiracy theories.

My slightly-snarky contribution to that thread was the observation that nobody had mentioned the shape-shifting, space-alien, lizard men who rule the world. That's 'proof' that the lizard men really exist: and suppress any mention of their presence. I also pointed out that the lizard men really don't exist - but that the global lizard man conspiracy might be on the next day's news.

I suppose someone will assume that Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Conley plotted to kill those folks: for the publicity; or for thrills; or because they're  tools of the lizard men. I don't think any of that's true: but I'm Catholic. And that's another topic.

Tragedy, Hope, and Prayer

In several other conversation threads, I've posted the same phrase: prayer couldn't hurt, often writing 'no pressure, but' first. Folks online find out I'm Christian, and Catholic, pretty soon: and some expect a 'high pressure sales' conversational style from 'that sort of person.' yet more topics.

The bishop and archbishop had more to say. including something about prayer:
"...But in Aurora, which means 'the dawn,' the sun rose this morning. In a city whose name evokes the light, people of hope know that the darkness may be overcome. For those who were killed, our hope is the tender mercy of our God. 'Neither death nor life,' reflected St. Paul, 'can separate us from the love of God.' We commend their souls, and their families and friends, to God’s enduring love.

"For those who were wounded - physically, emotionally and spiritually, our hope is in their recovery and renewal. To them we offer our prayers, our ears to listen, and our hearts to love. The road to recovery may be long, but in hope we are granted the gift of new life.

"We hope also for the perpetrator of this terrible crime, and we pray for his conversion. Evil ruled his heart last night. Only Jesus Christ can overcome the darkness of such evil.

"We hope that all of us may find the peace which surpasses understanding...."

Prayer: Bombastic and Otherwise

I've been a Christian as long as I can remember, although I started taking a long, hard look at all major religions after exposure to the sort of malignant virtue of some radio preachers. I eventually became Catholic, and that's - yep, another topic.

Before my conversion, I'd run across quite a few different styles of prayer: some bombastic and long-winded; some conversational; some simple; some anything but simple.

Now that I'm Catholic, my preferred style of prayer for 'everyday use' hasn't changed. I 'talk to/with God' about the same way I would with anyone else who I respect; and who I don't think is impressed by oratory.

I also participate in communal prayer during Mass, have prayed rosaries alone and with others, and many of the other sorts of prayer encouraged by the Catholic Church.

I've heard folks argue that prayer has to be 'from the heart,' and that it's 'unBiblical' to pray using words that someone's prepared beforehand. I see their point, sort of. But I've also noticed that 'from the heart' folks generally pray at length, using stock phrases, and take a long time to actually say anything.

Prayer 'from the heart' is a good idea, I think. More about that in a bit.

But I like 'traditional' prayers, too: ones where the words have been carefully selected and arranged. That's partly because I see life as a sort of spiritual warfare, and prayer as a sort of weapon and defense.

I'm impressed by folks who are able to whip together a serviceable bit of weaponry under fire. But I'd much rather have my weapons and defenses assembled, loaded, and ready for use. It saves time.

Prayer, Catholic Style

Sometimes a need for prayer comes abruptly. One minute, someone might be in a movie theater, the next trying to stay alive - or keeping someone else alive, and not long after mourning the dead.

That sort of experience can be unsettling, at least. I think it's nice to have ready-for-use prayers at hand, like this one:
"Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

("Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
(Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church)

What Prayer is; What Prayer isn't

I think of prayer as 'talking with God.' And I try not to make a habit of asking for favors.

More to the point, the Church has quite a bit to say about prayer, including this:
"Prayer in the events of each day and each moment is one of the secrets of the kingdom revealed to 'little children,' to the servants of Christ, to the poor of the Beatitudes. It is right and good to pray so that the coming of the kingdom of justice and peace may influence the march of history, but it is just as important to bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations; all forms of prayer can be the leaven to which the Lord compares the kingdom.14"
(Catechism, 2659)
There's much more. I broke out some ideas about prayer from part of the Catechism:
  • Prayer
    • Isn't just an impulsive outburst
    • Is
      • A learned skill
      • Taught by the Holy Spirit
      (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2650-2651)
    • A communion with the Holy Trinity
      (Catechism, 2655)
    • Internalizes and assimilates the liturgy
      • During its celebration
      • After its celebration
    • And the sacramental liturgy of the Church
      • The mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit
        • Proclaims the mystery of salvation
        • Makes present the mystery of salvation
        • Communicates the mystery of salvation
      (Catechism, 2655)
    • Continues the sacramental liturgy in the heart that prays
      (Catechism, 2655)
  • Should accompany reading of Holy Scripture
    (Catechism, 2653-2654)
  • Involves
  • When to pray
    • At certain times while hearing the Word of God
    • Any other time
  • (Catechism, 2659)
One more thing:
"The Holy Spirit is the living water 'welling up to eternal life'3 in the heart that prays. It is he who teaches us to accept it at its source: Christ. Indeed in the Christian life there are several wellsprings where Christ awaits us to enable us to drink of the Holy Spirit."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2652)
Enough. I still have my 'Sunday morning' post to write.

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