A good read

We are pleased to have members of our NZ Dominican family who, thanks to Accent Publications, have in recent years published their understandings of spirituality, prayer, Eucharist, sin, God ….

We continue our web reflections on spirituality with Margaret Butler’s chapter on Praying and its relevance is delightfully honest and grounded in ordinary human experience. It takes daily events of life and links them with the Christian desire and need to pray. Margaret also situates contemporary praying within a wider historical context.

At the time of writing this chapter, the Christchurch earthquakes were constant and Margaret reflects on ways that so many contradictory human feelings can provide the stuff of daily Christian prayer. There is nothing remote about prayer in this chapter. It can provoke and nourish us all.

Praying with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other

I have never been able to work out exactly how to pray. I went through many phases as a young person, feeling more or less comfortable with the way I was praying. Somewhere along my journey I heard about preaching with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. This appealed greatly to me and, though I discovered that it has been attributed to Karl Barth in the 20th century, it fits well with the Dominican tradition that has formed me over many years. Dominican saints Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274) and Albert the Great (about 1200 -1274) stressed the importance of studying philosophy and the secular sciences alongside the study of theology. Eventually I came to realise that if preaching can be done with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other then, too, one can pray with this combination.  I also discovered that it is a dangerous combination.

I can remember that as a teenager I was very keen on saying the Rosary – on my own, in a thoughtful way, not in the rapid way we used it in the family Rosary or at funeral vigils. This preference helped me to realise that saying prayers is only one aspect of praying. When I was introduced to the Divine Office or the Prayer of the Church it was very encouraging to realise that the prayers we used were balanced by the private prayer of meditation and contemplation. With the changes of the Second Vatican Council and a greater involvement in the world in which I lived the connection between the bible and the newspaper began to develop and enrich my prayer.

Click on Praying with the bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other to read the whole chapter.

Shared with the permission of Accent Publications.   See their website for this and other great publications.