I know I said a couple of blog posts ago that we should basically shut up as much as possible since we’ll be judged on every word that falls from our lips. But if everyone totally stopped talking, the unemployment lines would be full of mimes…(on second thought).
While all of us are called to progress in the life of prayer through all the different kinds (i.e. vocal, meditation, and contemplation), you never stop praying vocally. Even if you’re a contemplative hermit on top of Mount Everest, you keep calling out to God (probably for more blankets).
Vocal prayer is especially important because our prayer lives aren’t just personal. We come together as the family of God in the liturgy. We praise, thank and worship Him together. And we need words to do it. Can you imagine if your priest resorted to shadow puppets for his homily? (Pray that never happens.)
Personal prayer finds its end, so to speak, in the liturgy…it’s source and goal, says the Catechism. Why? Because, it continues, the “liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed” (1074). Yes, silence is truly golden. But when we’re in the liturgy talking to our Father, go ahead and pump up the volume.
In some ways it seems ludicrous that Jesus prayed. After all, even in his humanity he remained the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity. What gives?
First of all, he prayed so that we would know what we are supposed to do. The whole Catholic life is basically becoming like Christ. Prayer is no exception. Jesus showed us how important it was for us to communicate with the Father. Time after time, the Gospels record Christ going off to be alone to pray. We are to do likewise.
But there’s more. Remember that he became human, like us in every regard except sin (Heb 4:15). For that reason, says the great spiritual writer Fr. Edward Leen, “He was subject to the same laws that govern us: the more prayer, the more grace; the less prayer, the less grace; no prayer, no grace” (The Basic Book of Catholic Prayer...fantastic book, by the way).
So it looks Christ needed to pray after all. And if the Second Person of the Trinity needed to pray…enough said. Go grab some shag and get back to me.