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654

Part Four

2727

We must also face the fact that certain attitudes deriving

from the

mentality

of “this present world” can penetrate our lives

if we are not vigilant. For example, some would have it that only

that is true which can be verified by reason and science; yet prayer

is a mystery that overflows both our conscious and unconscious

lives. Others overly prize production and profit; thus prayer, be­

ing unproductive, is useless. Still others exalt sensuality and com­

fort as the criteria of the true, the good, and the beautiful; whereas

prayer, the “love of beauty” (

philokalia),

is caught up in the glory

of the living and true God. Finally, some see prayer as a flight from

the world in reaction against activism; but in fact, Christian prayer

is neither an escape from reality nor a divorce from life.

2728

Finally, our battle has to confront what we experience as

failure in prayer:

discouragement during periods of dryness; sad­

ness that, because we have “great possessions,”

15

we have not

given all to the Lord; disappointment over not being heard accord­

ing to our own will; wounded pride, stiffened by the indignity that

is ours as sinners; our resistance to the idea that prayer is a free and

unmerited gift; and so forth. The conclusion is always the same:

what good does it do to pray? To overcome these obstacles, we

must battle to gain humility, trust, and perseverance.

II.

H

umble

V

igilance of

H

eart

Facing difficulties in prayer

2729

The habitual difficulty in prayer is

distraction.

It can affect

words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more

profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgi­

cal or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set

about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap,

when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a

distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble

awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for

him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified.

Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

16

2730

In positive terms, the battle against the possessive and

dominating self requires

vigilance,

sobriety of heart. When Jesus

insists on vigilance, he always relates it to himself, to his coming

on the last day and every day:

today.

The bridegroom comes in the

15 Cf.

Mk

10:22.

16 Cf.

Mt

6:21, 24.

37

2500

2711

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