Friday, April 2, 2010

St. Thomas More On Prayer

This was something else that came to mind last night. Why do I suck at prayer? I can stay riveted to an episode of SuperHero Squad, but I can't focus on my correspondence with the Almighty for more than 2 seconds before my mind wanders.

St. Thomas More put it thusly:

And then further do we every way discover, how far wide our mind is wandering from God. We claw our head, we pare our nails, we pick our nose and say therewhiles one thing for another, since what is said or what is unsaid both having clean forgotten, we be fain at all adventures to aim what we have more to say. Be we not ashamed, thus madly demeaning ourselves both secretly in our heart, and also in our doings openly, in such wise to sue for succour unto God, being in so great danger as we be; and in such wise to pray for pardon of so many horrible offences; and over that in such wise to desire him to preserve us from perpetual damnation? So that this one offence so unreverently to approach to the high majesty of God, all had we never offended him before, were yet alone well worthy to be punished with a thousand endless deaths.

Well now suppose that thou hadst committed treason against some mighty worldly prince, which were at his liberty either to kill thee or save thee, and this notwithstanding that he would be so merciful unto thee, as upon thy repentance and humble suit for his gracious favour again, be content favourably to change the punishment of death into some fine and payment of money, or further upon the effectual proof and declaration of thine hearty and exceeding shame and sorrow for thy fault, clearly release thee of altogether. Now when thou comest in presence of this prince, suppose thou wouldst unrever-ently, as one that carelessly passed not what he did, tell thy tale unto him, and while he sat still and gave good ear unto thee, in the uttering of thy suit all the while jet up and down before him, and when thou hadst jetted thy fill squat thee down fair and well in a chair, or if for good manners' sake thou thoughtest it most seemly for thee to kneel on thy knees, yet then that thou wouldst call somebody first, to fetch thee a cushion to lay underneath thee, yea and besides that to bring thee a stool and another cushion therewithal to lean thine elbows on, and after all this gape, stretch, sneeze, spit, thou carest not how, balk out the stinking savour of thy ravenous surfeiting, and finally so behave thyself in thy countenance, speech, gesture, and thy whole body beside, that he might plainly perceive that while thou spakest unto him, thy mind were otherwise occupied; tell me now, I beseech thee, what good, trowest thou, shouldst thou get at his hand by this tale thus told afore him?

St. Thomas More, The Sadness of Christ

Every once in a while, you read something from a saint that makes you feel like you aren't the worst sinner in the world. Thank you, St. Thomas.

The above is taken from The Sadness of Christ, which I must promote as the best Lenten reading I've ever done. Get a print copy or read the whole thing here.

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