Sunday, September 20, 2009

Prayer With I-Thou Awareness, Obama, and Ad Orientum

Erin and I have been studying a pamphlet entitled "Lectio Divina: And the Practice of Tersian Prayer".

I think my favorite concept from the pamphlet is the idea of being aware that you are speaking and to whom you are speaking. That is, being actively aware of yourself and aware of God to whom you are speaking. It's an exercise of attention, an exercise of awareness, that is absolutely necessary in the mind of Teresa. Teresa goes so far to say that prayer lacking this kind of I-Thou awareness is "gibberish".

I think I've prayed my fair share of this "gibberish".

I wonder what Teresa of Avila would have to say about Obama's self revelation of his prayer life in this beliefnet interview he gave prior to being elected president.

Do you pray often?

Uh, yeah, I guess I do.

Its' not formal, me getting on my knees. I think I have an ongoing conversation with God. I think throughout the day, I'm constantly asking myself questions about what I'm doing, why am I doing it.

(No, that's not some isolated gem, some slip of the tongue. The interview is equally kooky throughout.)

This I-Thou attention, this awareness of self and other that Teresa is calling for seems quite natural in Ad Orientum worship, but rather strained with the celebrating priest facing me. I find myself intentionally avoiding his gaze, looking at the crucifix or the tabernacle.

I really wish my parish was equipped to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, but very often a good thing not to get things exactly your way.

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