Chapter 3 – Theory
Prayer is a reality that is initiated through the salvific dynamism of God’s grace. Our prayer is not about us heroically turning to God, but rather how we respond to God’s activity. This activity is initiated through our insertion into God’s triune life at Baptism and is nourished by the grace offered in the Eucharist. Thus our prayer is about learning to respond to a reality that has been given to us through the mediation of the Church. Among Christian writers and saints throughout the ages, the Eucharist has been considered the pinnacle of Christian prayer. Through our entering into the Eucharistic celebration, we penetrate the divide that prevents our limited human nature from partaking of the Divine nature, and we enter into the on-going exchange of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Thus the Mass is our participation in God’s divine life.
Often, this participation precedes our conscious awareness. Many of us entered the Church when we were baptized as infants. In such cases, the reality of prayer was present in our lives before we had the vocabulary to express it. This provides a helpful way of understanding that although prayer is populated by ideas, concepts, images, and other ways in which we experience reality, its foundation is one that goes beyond our consciousness. We enter into the dynamism of prayer through the sacrament of Baptism. Building upon the relationship which begins with Baptism, the Eucharist is the on-going means by which we allow that relationship to mature through our deepening experience of Christ’s love made concrete in His Eucharistic presence.
Growth in holiness is not necessarily about “adding” something on to what we were given in Baptism, but rather about allowing the Holy Spirit to peel away the layers of attachments, egocentricity, and sin in our lives so that we might enter fully into the mystery of the Eucharist. This involves a whole trajectory of growth whereby the veil that keeps us from seeing God in the present are slowly pulled away to reveal that He is always with us, though in a mysterious way. As we learn to enter into this mystery, our lives become transfigured by the light of Mt. Tabor, which is the transformative power of God’s love.