Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pope Francis Praying at the Other Wall

(Pope Francis praying at the wall that separates Israel from the West Bank)

     When I went on a weekend workshop to get training for teaching CCD we had to attend a talk on prayer given by a priest. This is when my complete lack of formation became obvious to me, because I only attended the talk because it was mandatory. I was much more interested in the intellectual content I wanted to impart than I was in listening to a talk on prayer.

     The priest was one of the older, quiet ones. The kind of priest I would recognize today as one who has a  prayer life. He started the talk by asking us when, we thought, did Jesus pray? Was there a particular time or occasion? Well I certainly didn't have the answer, nor did any of the rest of us. We were good-hearted volunteers, but clueless.

   "All the time." he said. "Jesus prayed all the time."

These days that is the way I measure people (including myself). Prayer has to come first, and it has to show. It usually does show when somebody prays seriously. It shows on their face. Most people who pray come to a point in their spiritual lives when like Jacob, we wrestle with God. That encounter is always serious and always devastating and it usually shows.

     When Pope Francis was in the Middle East he made a point of having a meal at the monastery of his translator, Father Silvio de la Fuente,and a Franciscan Friar of Custody of the Holy Land. Father de la Fuente's recollections of the Holy Father's visit are very touching, and personal, and worth reading.
ZENIT: Did the Pope find time to pray in the midst of such a full program?
--Friar Silvio: In fact, when we were in the car or the helicopter, and also on the plane, he would pray, either with the Breviary in his hand or the Holy Rosary. Sometimes he would ask me something, or I asked him or shared something with him, on other occasions he simply prayed.

Yeah. He does that. It's not very political or controversial, not very good for headlines. But he does that.

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