Prayer is a reality of the Presence
To pray is to return time to God, to be unified by the Spirit.
by Rosanna Tabasso
The Gospel challenges each generation: to be in the world but not in the world. And every generation, in every period, comes to terms with its piece of the world but it is always the Holy Spirit who inspires new forms of testimony, suited to the times. In the first centuries of Christianity, Christians were persecuted and to believe was to die for the faith. Since the fourth century Christianity has become a recognized religion and living it could have seemed easier; in reality the threat that the salt would lose its flavor was real and whoever wanted to live the Gospel in its radicality felt that it had to move away from the world and its tentacles, withdrew to deserted places, lived in extreme solitude to be fully of God. Groups of monks united, began to live together and common life became the new way of saying the Gospel: look how they love each other, God has never seen him but if we love each other God remains in us ... Centuries after the mentality the world still tries to suffocate Christianity but the Holy Spirit arouses in men like Benedict, Dominic, Francis ... new forms of common life in monasteries scattered in every corner of present-day Europe; places of faith that opened to the outside: the monks and the people with them tilled the earth, dedicated themselves to the poor, made the Gospel known ... And so on, until the nineteenth century when Christian saints made their charity towards the poor their testimony, while the Christian society of the time marginalized them: St. Vincent de Paul, Don Bosco, Cottolengo ...
We are children of the twentieth century, the century of a Christianity organized in a widespread way so as to encompass the whole of society and even political life ... but even that time has passed revealing its dangerous traps: that of a faith that leaves the heart and reduces to a membership card, that of a power that traps the Gospel. When Christians stop being a small flock, they stop pouring their trust in the Lord, they are immediately captured by the mentality of the world and are lost. Today our time poses a new challenge for us. After the historically failed attempts to build a Christian political system that imposes the Gospel from above and after the separation from the world that has often characterized forms of monasticism, the new challenge is a third way that the Orthodox theologian Pavel Evdokimov calls "internalized monasticism" . A new way for lay, consecrated, married people who through the grace of common baptism live the Gospel entirely in family, working, social life, as in monasteries or hermitages. In inner silence, in listening, in service. In the world but not in the world, as yeast in the dough. Totally of Christ. No longer facade Christians, hidden behind a label, but people inhabited by the Spirit, capable of living their daily lives in the presence of God.
In this their daily life, Christians thus discover and recognize the presence of God in history, in people, in the concrete facts that they live, in the works they carry out. For them, God is in everyone and in everything. It is the Presence that accompanies, it is the Present. These people live their lives with all that it entails and are never alone: He is the Present. They are married, mothers and fathers of the family and feel inhabited by God as nuns, monks, priests are: He is the Present. They work manually, have responsibilities, move, are alone or together with friends: he is present, sanctifies everything, makes all their works precious because every human action is a sign of his divine presence. Nothing is more banal, obvious and useless in their life because in everything it is made sacred by the Presence of God, by the work of the Holy Spirit who carries out the project of the Kingdom of God among us.
Their prayer is essentially to find the Presence of God in continuous dialogue with him, as the Rule of the Fraternity says: «We look at him and we feel looked at by him. We continually grind his praise: you are good Lord, use me, help me, mercy, mercy ». But it is not a prayer that isolates, on the contrary, it helps to find its Presence in everyday life: «So our day is marked by the hours of prayer that are intertwined with life: pray and act, pray and love, pray and keep silent, pray and operate, pray and listen ».
It is the prayer that innervates our daily life and brings God back to today, does not exclude him from any aspect of our life but brings everything back, even the most humble to him and to his project. Even if we are different by state of life, we are lay, married, consecrated, priests, prayer as the Presence of God unites us all and makes us all equally responsible for the Kingdom of God among us. Perhaps as Fraternity and in the life of our Arsenals we are truly called to live this third way, the way entrusted to people unified by the Spirit, people totally taken by the love of God and neighbor, witnesses of the Presence of God in the life of humanity and in this time, again and always time of God.