This paragraph concludes our look at Prayer as a school of hope:
34. For prayer to develop this power of purification, it must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.
For many First Worlders, this can be a tall order. Many of us see prayer as intensely private, not shared with clergy or spouse. Liturgy can help break out of that–urging us to blend in with words not always our own and with people we wouldn’t associate with except in larger groups.
Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan, in his book of spiritual exercises, tells us that during his life there were long periods when he was unable to pray and that he would hold fast to the texts of the Church’s prayer: the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the prayers of the liturgy [Testimony of Hope, Boston 2000, pp.121ff]. Praying must always involve this intermingling of public and personal prayer. This is how we can speak to God and how God speaks to us. In this way we undergo those purifications by which we become open to God and are prepared for the service of our fellow human beings.
Another link between the virtues, hope and charity.
We become capable of the great hope, and thus we become ministers of hope for others. Hope in a Christian sense is always hope for others as well. It is an active hope, in which we struggle to prevent things moving towards the “perverse end”. It is an active hope also in the sense that we keep the world open to God. Only in this way does it continue to be a truly human hope.
One of my favorite quotes of the document so far. Hope is something spread and shared, like food at a banquet, gifts among friends, a building up of faith in a common existence.
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