The Idea of Praying Through Time

Pondering prayer, and the notion of praying through time, thanks to our Holy Father:

We can love ourselves only if we have first been loved by someone else. The life a mother gives to her child is not just physical life; she gives total life when she takes the child’s tears and turns them into smiles. It is only when life has been accepted and is perceived as accepted that it becomes also acceptable. Man is that strange creature that needs not just physical birth but also appreciation if he is to subsist . . . If an individual is to accept himself, someone must say to him: “It is good that you exist”—must say it, not with words, but with that act of the entire being that we call love. For it is the way of love to will the other’s existence and, at the same time, to bring that existence forth again. The key to the I lies with the you; the way to the you leads through the I.

Reading this broke my heart a little, as I considered people I have known who have gone their whole lives waiting to hear from someone, “it is good that you exist.”

Benedict’s wise words here remind me of the teaching of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, former Dean of St. Vladimir’s Seminary, who wrote:

Now in our own day . . . it is always in the name of good, of freedom, of concern for mankind that people are enslaved and murdered, deceived, lied to, slandered and destroyed. “Every evil screams out only one message: ‘I am good!’” And not only does it scream, but it demands that the people cry out tirelessly in response: “You are good, you are freedom, you are happiness!”

Read on for the praying through time part

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Joseph Marshall

    Very good. One of the best I’ve seen from you recently. Time is a paradox. Strictly speaking, this present moment is all we know. The past is but memory, and memories alter and fade, the future is but either dread or hope. We are not in time, time is in us.

    Time appears to pass, but we are the ones who do the passing. The Tibetans have a word “kechik”. If you have a stack of banana leaves and you chop through them with a machete, a kechik is the time it takes to cut through 3 of the leaves. Without the passing of the machete how could we differentiate it?

    A second, a minute, an hour, a day, a year are all mere functions of the instrument we measure with: a clock, a stopwatch, the earth, the Sun disk or the Moon disk marked against a stone. Because the instruments are intermeasurable with one another, we succumb to the illusion that we are measuring “time”. But actually we are only measuring the movement of our instruments and comparing it with our own.

    Love takes many forms, as does prayer, but both are merely ways we apply our passing to the present moment. Our need for both extends beyond the present moment into the past that is no longer there and the future which is yet to come, but no one else can satisfy that need for us in any but the present moment. Hence we suffer. Without the memory of love, our suffering is worse, and without the hope of love, it will become worse.

    But even with both we still suffer.

  • Sophia

    Elizabeth, of all the many good pieces you have posted, this, to my mind and heart, is the most poignant…so deeply perceptive and true, and oh so important a perspective to keep in our hearts, minds, and as you say, prayers. Thank you for this reflection!!!

  • Annie

    Thank you for your wonderful reflection…and for the reminder to take “Benedictus” off my shelf for another reread.

  • Tnbella7

    It reminds of the end of hotrod Hears A Who when all the Who’s in Whoville cry over and over – “We are here! we are here!”. It is in our core to be recognized.

  • Jeff

    Wait a minute, what about orphans whose parents abandon them? Can they not love themselves? There are plenty of dsyfunctional families out there where the parents don’t love their children, and I think the clergy (at least in Rome) sometimes just doesn’t get this. An orphan reading this might feel like concluding that he or she is not worth being loved. Benedict should add the line from the Old Testament, “even if a mother forsake her child, he will not abandon you.”