Can my prayer be stronger than it is, strong enough to noticeably enhance my life? Of course! How can that happen? I can do that by enhancing it, seeing it as part of my whole life and not something separate. Sometimes people put their interests and activities in categories; they box them up as it were. If I am doing that, then perhaps Sunday is when I pray. Perhaps when I am attending Mass I will pray by listening to the celebrant pray, while I maintain my awareness somewhere else; daydreaming perhaps or trying to solve a particular concern that I have. And after Mass I will do something else. So, this is when I go to Mass and this is when I will do- something else. I have basically compartmentalized my life. Conversion is needed here, with the meaning of “conversion” being its root meaning of seeing life differently from how I currently see it.
So, if I want to see my life differently than what is presented above, I may choose for example to see all the moments of my life as interconnected rather than separate. In this new scenario I am not going to pray at certain times, but rather I am going to see my life as a prayer. I am going to express my life now as prayer in certain ways. Following this new way of thinking, or better yet living, I am going to wake up thanking God for Life. I will make a plan to express my gratitude even more by making a decision to do something generous today. It might be just for my family, or perhaps for my family and someone else. Maybe I will plan out a spiritual regimen for this day by committing myself to see everyone I meet this day as family. Such an attitude will really give me a feeling of connectedness with all-that-is. And I am not merely making it up just to get the good feeling that accompanies the feeling of connectedness. It happens to be the truth. I just need to realize it.
Realizing a truth such as this is no different than realizing that I cannot spend my days in bed sleeping. I choose to open my eyes, get out of bed, stretch, nourish myself, and prepare to face the day. I need to have the same attitude in the world of Spirit. Not choosing to see everything as interconnected, not choosing to see all people as my family, not choosing to see my life as prayer, is to- spiritually speaking- stay asleep. Darkness, it is said, is the absence of light. Darkness, as the reasoning continues, immediately vanishes when I hit the switch and turn the light on. Likewise, the darkness of my spiritual world goes away by choosing to wake up, and I wake up by being grateful, seeing once again my life as interconnected with all life. Another way of saying this is that I am choosing to be conscious.
The Mass is said to be the highest form of prayer. But how can this be true- for me as an individual- if it is the only way I pray. If I am saying that it is the highest form of prayer, then I must be comparing it with other ways I pray, and I am saying that it is the best of all- indeed the highest. If I am not doing that, then the Mass is a disconnected act for me, an isolated moment that I experience, perhaps even unconsciously, one day of the week.
Sleeping can be fun. We sure do need to sleep. But we need to wake up as well and experience what life has to teach us. We need to wake up spiritually too and experience what God wishes to teach. When I was growing up, various teachers used to remind me and my classmates of the value of paying attention. It was good advice then, and it is good advice now. Seeing my life as interconnected is teaching me to pay attention to God.
Peace, Fr. Walter