Abbot Isaac On Prayer

From the Abbot Isaac before a past Oblate retreat:

Dear Oblates:

     The retreat we will have very soon at the abbey will be centered in prayer.  I believe that we cannot talk enough about what prayer is and what prayer can do for us all.

     Because this letter is for all the Oblates, regardless of your presence at the retreat or not, I think that to improve our prayer life we should ask questions and find answers.  So, let me say something that should be very clear in our minds. The Rosary is a good example of what prayer is not.

     The Rosary has the intention of leading us into meditation — a meditation in the life of Jesus. Therefore, we have the different Mysteries.  Let us consider the Annunciation, the birth of Jesus and so on. These wonderful events that lead to the Salvation of humanity are to make us enter that scene, almost as if we are there, present listening to the Angel saying to Mary that she will be the Mother of God, or at the Birth of the Messiah, and as our Christian imagination leads us, we are one with the shepherds and the animals in the barn or stable.  In other words our mind and our words are being centered in these moments of the life of Jesus. That is a wonderful experience. Our minds in some way are quiet, but having in mind the mystery, then we can move to either a unique meditation that will include feelings and maybe the thought of having been present right there. Some people will say that they had a mystical experienced. However, let us not assume that so fast.

     On the other hand people are also too eager to define prayer as a dialogue.  For a dialogue we need to have interaction. Meaning, God should be taking his part and answer so we can have a dialogue. If this is not happening, then we are in a monologue. Is this prayer?
      I will say that many times it is. Prayer: please allow me to say that prayer is not a dialogue, but the soul baring ourselves in the presence of God. If this is true, as I do believe, we are not in need of carrying on a dialogue. We for some reason need to be empty of ourselves in the presence of God, acknowledging who we are and what we are, and only then are we taking one single and small step to that presence of God. Then as we discover that we are loved by God, as we are, then our mind and our heart is ready to pray to have a dialogue with God.

     To pray is to be naked in the presence of God. By naked I mean totally empty of the masks we need or think we need to interact with people in the many scenarios in our lives.

     Prayer is to experience God and try to make ourselves fit to his will, to discover his will in our lives. This true prayer is not something that happens all the time, true prayer happens a few times in our lives and it is in that assurance that we continue to be in the presence of God. It is through this experience that we feel free to shout to God asking Him to come to our assistance. Do you want to know more about prayer? Come join us on our retreat or in our monthly meetings.

     I hope that you all are growing in your mind and spirit as we gather in our meetings. I try to be a challenge for you with the different topics we deal with in our meetings. After we have a meeting it will be great if you post your questions that you have after the meeting on the St. Leo Abbey Oblates blog. I think this will be a very helpful way to clear ideas and find the answers to the many questions that we all have.

     Finally, not to sound greedy, but this is only a reminder: Every time we gather there is a basket in which we hope you put your donation. The donation is primarily to help with the food expense, but also for the needs that may come across the Oblate office.

     Once again, I thank you very much for being part of the Saint Leo Family.  May God bless you all with peace of mind and heart. 

Abbot Isaac Camacho, OSB
Oblate Director