Gratefulness The Heart of Prayer

PRAYER: Faith And Beliefs—Trusting Courage by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 16, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Suppose our argument thus far is convincing.  Suppose we agree that gratefulness is that fullness of life for which all of us are thirsting.  Then the task ahead is simple enough: to learn to live gratefully.  The key question is: How shall we go about it? Earlier on, when we spoke of learning to live prayerfully, I suggested that we take the most prayerful moments in our daily life and start from there.  This gives us the advantage of starting with something we already know from experience.  In certain situations we have experienced an inner attitude that we consider prayerful; now the task is to approach not only some but all situations in that attitude.  At least we already know what it is [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—Responding From The Heart by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 9, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Contemplation Leisure (ideal) (give) Vision (order) Meaning (yourself) Play (practical) (take) Action (realization) Purpose (in hand) Work As we recover this comprehensive sense of the term contemplation, we are restoring a key term of Christian spirituality to its full significance.  But we are doing much more.  We are rescuing contemplation from specialists and returning it to all those to whom it belongs as their birthright, to every human being. Far too long has contemplation been regarded as the private domain of contemplatives.  Contemplatives in this impoverished sense were only those who were preoccupied with the vision of meaning and withdrew from purpose and action.  They often set an [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—To Work Playfully by Brother David Steindl-Rast

October 2, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer This brings us to the topic of leisure.  To recover a healthy understanding of leisure is to come a long way toward understanding contemplation.  But few words we use are as misunderstood as the word “leisure.”  This shows itself right away when we speak of work and leisure as a pair of opposites.  Are the two poles of activity really work and leisure?  If this were so, how could we speak of leisurely work?  It would be a blatant contradiction.  We know, however, that working leisurely is no contradiction at all.  In fact, work ought to be done with leisure, if it is to be done well. What then is the opposite of work?  It is play.  These are the two poles of all activity: work [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—Building The Temple by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 25, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Those who first introduced the term “contemplation” into our Christian vocabulary, in spite of the fact that it still was a technical term of the rival Roman religion, must have found it irreplaceable.  They may well have been aware that contemplation stands for a primordial and universal human reality.  They realized, for sure, that the concept was central to Biblical tradition.  It stands behind a whole theology of the temple, connecting Moses, the great contemplative, with Solomon’s temple and with the temple that Divine Wisdom builds; with Jesus Christ, in whom both Wisdom and the temple are seen personified; and with his body, the new humankind, temple of the Holy Spirit. [...]

PRAYER: Contemplation And Leisure—The Sense of Measure by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 18, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Stonehenge, the mysterious monument in England, more than three and a half thousand years old, is a circular arrangement of enormous rock pillars.  There are scores of them up to thirty feet in height and fifty tons in weight.  No one knows by what ingenious means they were moved to this place from a quarry twenty miles away or how they were capped with huge slabs of rock for lintels.  No one is even sure who accomplished this feat.  Neither the ideas that bound them together nor the ideals that inspired their common effort are known to us.  All is shrouded in the darkness of pre-history.  We look at the intricate pattern of pillars, ditches, banks, and pits as we would look at runes inscribed [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness—Genuine Prayer by Brother David Steindl-Rast

September 11, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Once we realize how the interplay between prayerfulness and prayers builds the temple of our prayer life, we should be able to ask the right questions to see where we stand in this process and how we need to proceed.  Our prayers have a twofold relationship to our prayerfulness, as we have seen.  Prayers both express and reinforce our prayerfulness.  Hence we need to ask two basic questions: Are my prayers a genuine expression of my prayerfulness?  Do they make me more prayerful? Since these two questions go to the heart of the matter, we can use them to check both prayers in community and prayers by ourselves.  The context will be so different, however, that we shall here test these two areas [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness (Part Two) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

August 28, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer The Art of Prayer We need only watch little children in their playpen to realize how perfectly they combine concentration with wonderment.  Often they are so concentrated on sucking the ear of a toy rabbit or simply on wiggling their toes that you might have a hard time trying to divert their attention to something else.  If only our children could grow up without losing their power of recollectedness.  How often adults destroy that gift with the best intentions.  Children have a need to stand and look.  A simple thing may absorb their attention for a long time.  But then you see everywhere adults pulling children out of their wonderment and concentration.  “Let’s go.  We have no [...]

PRAYER: Prayers And Prayerfulness (Part One) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

August 21, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer Making Prayers Prayer May we presume that everyone knows what prayer is?  From one point of view the answer is, “yes.”  Every human being knows prayer from experience.  Have we not all experienced moments in which our thirsting heart found itself with surprise drinking at a fountain of meaning?  Much of our life may be a wandering in desert lands, but we do find springs of water.  If what is called “God” means in the language of experience the ultimate Source of Meaning, then those moments that quench the thirst of the heart are moments of prayer.  They are moments when we communicate with God, and that is, after all, the essence of prayer. But do we recognize these [...]

PRAYER: Heart And Mind (Part Three) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

August 7, 2017

From Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer Meaning Here, another prayer from Rilke’s Book of Hours allows these intuitions to crystallize into poetic images.  Once more Rilke starts out with the polarity of noise and silence.  This time it is the crowd of contradictions in our life that fills the palace of our heart with a riotous feast of fools.  It is impossible, of course, to eliminate contradictions altogether from our life.  Life itself is contradictory.  But we can reconcile contradictions in the great primordial symbols, like the symbol of the heart itself.  When we succeed in this, a great silence begins to reign, serenely festive and gentle.  And in the middle of that silence stands God, as guest, as silent core of our [...]

PRAYER: Heart And Mind (Part Two) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 31, 2017

From Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer Restless Is Our Heart The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke celebrates both our longing for healing and wholeness and our primordial conviction that God’s healing power wells up in our own innermost heart.  He finds God in “the spot that is healing,” while we, like children picking on a scar, keep ripping it open with the sharp edges of our thoughts.  If only we could quiet all that agitation within and around us, the din that distracts us.  In our silence a thousand scattered thoughts would be gathered into one.  And in the thousandfold power of that concentration we would be able to hold God one smiling moment long in a single thought.  Just long enough to give that divine [...]

PRAYER: Heart And Mind (Part One) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 24, 2017

From Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer Together Gratefulness is a mindful response, as we have seen.  Our intellect, our will, our feelings are all engaged when we are grateful.  But when we say mindful, someone might still get the impression that we want to stress the mind over against the rest of our person.  It might be less misleading to speak of the heart rather than the mind.  Gratefulness is a full response.  We sense that.  And we sense also that this kind of fullness cannot go together with halfheartedness.  Gratefulness is always wholehearted.  Our whole person is engaged in it.  And this is precisely what the symbol of the heart stands for – the whole person. When lovers say to one another, I will give you my [...]

PRAYER: Surprise And Gratefulness by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 10, 2017

From Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer A rainbow always comes as a surprise.  Not that it cannot be predicted.  Surprising sometimes means unpredictable, but it often means more.  Surprising in the full sense means somehow gratuitous.  Even the predictable turns into surprise the moment we stop taking it for granted.  If we knew enough, everything would be predictable, and yet everything would remain gratuitous.  If we knew how the whole universe worked, we would still be surprised that there was a universe at all.  Predictable it may be, yet all the more surprising. Our eyes are opened to that surprise character of the world around us the moment we wake up from taking things for granted.  Rainbows have a way of waking us up.  A [...]

PRAYER: Aliveness And Wakefulness (In Place of an Introduction) by Brother David Steindl-Rast

July 3, 2017

From: Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer This book is about life in fullness.  It is about coming alive.  I could summarize it in two words: Wake up! A poet like Kabir is able to say these two words with a freshness that makes us sit up.  Kabir’s poems have power.  They wake us up to an aliveness we never thought possible. Do you have a body? Don’t sit on the porch! Go out and walk in the rain! If you are in love, then why are you asleep? Wake up, wake up! You have slept millions and millions of years. Why not wake up this morning? In my own way, I try to get the same message across.  And people are hungry for it.  All around the world I have been invited to speak about it.  And people always ask, “Why don’t [...]