Published on August 13, 2022 at 09:00
As the Diocese of Allentown recently completed its “Year of Real Presence” (yearofrealpresence.org), Catholic Bishops across the United States began a three-year Eucharistic Revival (eucharisticrevival.org), encouraging deeper understanding and living of Jesus greatest gift of Himself, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.
Parish renewal in Eucharistic adoration was one of the objectives of the year of real presence. SS. Peter and Paul continue to display the Blessed Sacrament for adoration, expressed in both communal and personal prayer. Would more people sign up for a dedicated 30 or 60 minute time slot, or stop by for the shorter visit.
Many of us don’t mind joining in group prayer and will say formal prayers alone, especially if it means we don’t have to “invent anything” ourselves! But all prayers on paper, even those that come from Sacred Scripture, have the ideal complement in the “controverted and humbled heart” that the Lord “will not reject” (Psalm 51:17), the heart that engages him in our own words or lack of words.
In his short but substantial book “How to Pray,” theologian David Torkington discusses eight prayer patterns, or prayer phrases, using the English transliteration of the Greek word “parousia” (par-oo-SEE-uh), which denotes the arrival or presence of a king. Parousia means: Profession, Adoration, Reconciliation, Offering, Union, Silence, Intercession and Action.
Should we model our prayer exactly on these expressions, in order of appearance? Not necessarily, but I find them all, in order, appropriate. We know and declare who God is and who we are in relation to God. As beggars before him, we express preventive praise and gratitude. Aware of all barriers to fellowship, we ask God’s mercy to melt all hearts and join all hands, that together we may be one with God as a pleasing sacrifice.
The lack of words can make us uncomfortable. I know this from attending meetings where people are encouraged to share “as the Spirit moves”. But I don’t like to rush what may be for most of us the one and most significant moment of calm we have in a day. It clarifies and purifies our hearts and helps us realize what is our greatest treasure. When that treasure doesn’t line up with God’s love, He still receives us, and quietly loves us anyway.
We ask what we need or want, and when we zoom out, we admit our ignorance of what is best for us, or “how to pray right” (Romans 8:26). To quote GK Chesterton, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly”. Our abandonment of prayer should inspire us to do differently, the next good thing God sees fit through our dark eyes. Trial times are for trying.
Torkington’s mnemonic inspires me to spell the Latin word cras (“tomorrow”) with the Church‘s whole approach to the Eucharistic Body of Christ: we celebrate it, we receive it, we worship it and we share it. Faithfulness to these practices prepares our hearts today for a future worth seeking out, where we will eat and drink at the table with Jesus in His Kingdom (Luke 22:30).