Saturday, June 20, 2009

Prayer as subject: Response to an email posting

This particular struggle of worship, how to approach and address God so one may be personal and intimate with the Creator depends, at least for me, on my need and posture of faith at the time of prayer.

Mondays for me and others is a time for Evening Prayer in the Church. And since I am Episcopalian (an Oblate of New Camaldoli through Charism of Friendship, and more), we use "The Book of Common Prayer." It has rubrics, or directions, for prayer usually followed throughout the world by various Anglicans who are engaged daily in this Work of the Lord. We Oblates are united in Prayer, as Father Robert points out. United with the monks, too, certainly and significantly.

Starting at 5 p.m. on Mondays, I prepare by prayer on my knees. At this particular service, which I lead on Mondays, and sometimes on Thursdays at my Parish, I find that Mondays I look for an informal and special more personal interpretation of kneeling.

So we get permission from the Rector to bend the Rules Mondays, an unusual thing which took some conversation on the why and how. Nonetheless, with his blessing by the Rector, on Monday Evenings only we are allowed to spend more time on our knees than the rubrics really call for, and perhaps even allow.

We stand for the Gospel, and the creeds, but otherwise almost the entire time is spent on our knees. Though this is not the "inspiration" for the start of this practice, I do remember that on my visits to Immaculate Heart Hermitage, the Rosarie is said on one's knees (unusual for Camaldoli, since the usual arrangment is sitting).

Mostly, when in contemplative prayer at home, and even in Church where I have done so, if only briefly, I sit. I find though, that contemplative practice spills over to the usual by the book prayer time in Church. And to go further with this discussion of to kneel or not, I find when listening to the sermon and at times like prayer, sitting or on my knees while Communion is given, I rest in the Lord and the prayers. This is probably the better and more important part for me. As I seek peace and pursue it.

I remember Father Robert saying that when first getting up in the morning, during that half awake, asleep time, pay attention in a meditative way to thoughts etc. I do this at the times just noted when listening to the Sermon, or waiting with others as Communion is taken. So it is on the knees or seated, I find prayer and relation to God in Christ.

It is in a kind of dreamy, meditative, waiting state that I spend this time of "unconscious exploration" prayer time once in a while. If only briefly so.

And as I say, this came from the experience of exploring the time of wakening in the morning. Again, it just came. I did not plan it. I hope it is an all right practice, for I like others look for direction on matters like this, like those of to kneel or sit.

Though not feeling divided on the issue, my general rule when visiting another Church, a not so often thing, but I do attend Saturday Catholic mass with my friend frequently, I do as the others. I follow the community practice. Almost entirely, I do so in my own Parish--of course, I say this.

But you can see, that for me the question arises, as it has for others given the recent postings here. Mostly, though, I find surrender the better of the focus in these matters. And also, I am pretty conventional, or so I think, and not given to various rebellions of kind. Not when it comes to these kind of matters, at least.

Afterall, I am led and taught. I like this. I even seek it. That I am is one reason I became an Oblate.

Peter Menkin, Obl Cam OSBMill Valley, CA USA
(north of San Francisco)

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