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When we are undone, frazzled: Prayer is re-creation

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Fr. Peter John Cameron, OP - published on 02/19/23

That I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity.

A poem by George Herbert (+1633) speaks of prayer as “God’s breath in man returning to his birth … Reversed thunder … the soul’s blood.” He is speaking from the common plight of feeling frazzled, of things falling apart—of needing something greater than ourselves in order to be ourselves. When we are undone, we need to be remade. We look to prayer to re-create us.

The 14th-century spiritual classic The Cloud of Unknowing provides excellent practical counsel to the stressed about a way to pray:

Whenever you are drawn by grace to the contemplative work and are determined to do it, simply raise your heart to God with a gentle stirring of love. Think only of God, the God who created you, redeemed you, and guided you to this work.

The prayer could take a form like this. Settling in a quiet place, still yourself as best you can, and then, with a peaceful stirring of love, pray: Loving God … you created me … you redeemed me … and you called me to yourself … by your grace alone. You I long for … you I seek … you, and nothing less than you. The simple prayerful restating of these facts countermands chaos, renewing and rejuvenating us as it draws Truth into disruption.

The spiritual giant St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was devoted to this mystery and encourages us with her fervor:

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, let me entirely forget myself, that I may abide in you, still and peaceful as if my soul were already in eternity. Pacify my soul! Make it your heaven, your beloved home and place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but may I be ever attentive, ever alert in my faith, ever adoring and all given up to your creative action.


Follow Fr. Cameron’s series on prayer here.

See some of the earlier pieces below:

PrayerPrayer Is:Spiritual Life
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