c) Some questions of spiritual maturity (regarding prayer)
What has already been said and what is to come cannot be understood without going to the true and deep root of the problem, which has already been pointed out before: faith conceived as an endless and anguished exercise of merits. It can be summed up in this double axiom: no matter how hard I try and strive to “love” , “please” , to God, for being at “his height ” … I never arrive, I always fall short and unsatisfied. But if what it is about is letting yourself be loved by God, letting Him be the protagonist who takes the initiative, then … He always, always, always arrives. It does not fail. He loves me and I feel loved. And I want to be with Him and He never bores me with His love. This relationship is what could really be called prayer.
In the same way that dating relationships are not the same today as they were fifty years ago, so there are several aspects of our prayer-relationship that have to respond to how God reveals himself to us and how we are today. Therefore, we cannot pray today like God than the Old Testament man did, because we know much more about God, in Jesus, and we know that we are not like those men were. We cannot even pray the same today, in adulthood, as when we were teenagers or children.
Some aspects, then, to take into account in this time of ours:
– The “silence” is an unpleasant concept. We easily think that we are told to shut up, that we are going to get bored and, even, silence without more can end up leading us to simple emptiness. It is, therefore, much more positive and meaningful to speak of “listen” , which involves an attitude of silence but to fill that silence, that listening, of the Word of God.
– Neither does the simple forced repetition of words that are empty and meaningless to us not help a natural and fluid relationship. In my dealings with adolescents, I have realized that it is very unnatural for them to try to “you” to Jesus or Mary. Ejaculations like “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust you” sound like medieval music and little else. Nor is it about making some formulas disappear so as not to offer anything at all. On the contrary, it is a matter of each one finding the way in which it is most natural for him to relate to the Friend Jesus. In my case, I walk down the street chanting short refrains as a 21st century ejaculation.
– And, of course, it’s not about getting flooded in the well of me “ I feel like-I don’t feel like it”. The love relationship with the Beloved is magnificently expressed by Saint Teresa of Ávila when she says that it is not only about wanting but about “wanting to love” em>. In this way we will allow ourselves to be flooded with the loving presence of the Lord. In his hands love is always faithful and constant. H4>
d) Prayer throughout the years of our life
I accompany spiritually and formatively groups of all ages. I recognize that despite the complexity that this entails, especially because it means more preparation time as the same resources cannot be used in the different groups, on the other hand, it has the positive value of the great wealth of content and dynamics that I work on, but above all the great wealth of experiences that we share. And, of course, those experiences include those of the relationship with God through prayer.
From all this I draw some conclusions:
– If we “sell” the sentence as being quiet and still, the child and the adolescent do not embrace that moment with affection, which should be privileged.
– The Word of God is, without a doubt, the great means of relationship with God. Of course, it will be necessary to know how to choose the texts with a certain gift of opportunity, taking into account difficulties of understanding, of extension, or to whom it is addressed.
– But in no way should we give up intense moments of listening, just keep in mind that the proposal must be progressive and that for silence to be heard it must be filled with meaning.
– Spiritual maturity, also with regard to prayer, does not depend on age, but it is true that a long life journey helps to do so. Training does not ensure that you win the game, but never training is the best way to ensure that you lose it.