Mark of a good
Fr. ROY CIMAGALA,
August 12, 2020
IF we really have a good
prayer, one where we truly have an intimate encounter with God, we
for sure would come out of it burning with zeal for love and concern
for the others. Somehow we would catch the fire behind these words
of Christ: I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish
it were already kindled! (Lk12,49)
Yes, real prayer has that
effect. If, on the contrary, we come out of it just thinking of our
own selves, or worse, feeling low and dry, then we are not actually
praying. Prayer will always sharpen our mindfulness and
thoughtfulness of the others.
Prayer is by definition an
act of love. And love in turn is always self-perpetuating. It never
stops giving itself to God. As St. Francis de Sales would put it,
The measure of love is to love without measure.
And because of our love
for God, then our prayer which is an act of love for God will always
lead us to love others. That is always the trajectory of a true,
love-inspired prayer. Its vertical aspect never leaves behind the
In his first letter, St.
John said regarding this point: If anyone says, I love God, but
hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his
brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And
we have this commandment from Him: whoever loves God must love his
brother as well. (4,19-21)
Of course, it cannot be
denied that there are times when in spite of our best intentions and
effort, we still would feel dry. Neither should we be surprised by
this. Many saints, who really had intimate conversations with God,
also experienced the same phenomenon. God allows that to happen for
a good purpose. Such dryness serves to purify and deepen our faith
But normally, even in the
worst scenario when we would be feeling low and dry in our prayer,
the heart would still beat for love and concern for the others.
Genuine prayer can have no other effect. If in prayer we are truly
with God, we should also be with others. It cannot be any other way.
So in these times of
lockdown and quarantine, we have to make sure that our prayer does
not begin and end only with our own selves. It has to begin and end
with God. And because of God, it somehow has to involve the others.
We have to be wary of our
tendency to convert our prayer as a way to build some kind of an
ivory tower, where we isolate ourselves from the others. This can
happen when our idea of being with God is detached from being with
the others. Sad to say, we can observe some people falling into this
This can also happen when
our idea of prayer is too spiritual as to neglect the material
dimension of our life. Let us remember that man is by definition a
composite of spirit and matter, of the soul and the body. He cannot
be one without the other.
If our prayer has to lead
us to love others, then that love has to be shown by caring not only
for the spiritual needs of the others. That love also has to care
for their material needs. And vice-versa.
In the end, what is most
important is that everyone is led to God who is the Alpha and Omega
of our life and of the whole world. So, our love for the others that
comes as a result of our prayer should not just be limited to doing
philanthropy or some acts of altruism. Our prayer-inspired love for
the others should bring them to love God the way God loves us.
For as Christ clearly
commanded us, we have to love one another as he himself has loved
us. (cfr. Jn 13,34)