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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Prayer Deeply Rooted in Wisdom from on High

Christian contemplation is rooted in the Gospel of Christ. This means that this prayer draws its life from the living truth disclosed by Jesus - a truth disclosed not only by His teaching and His deeds, but most of all by His presence among us. Rooted in truth, the prayer constantly discovers new and surprising ways God is with us, and this even in the deepest sorrow, even when horrendous evil seems to crush all hope. Such prayer participates in the prayer of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ Child, who came from the Father to lead us home. Prayer of Christ is given as a gift as was everything He had down to the last drop of blood. He Himself is God's great gift to humanity, He whose teaching and works were not His own but that which the Father gave Him to give to us. The Fountain of Grace came into the world to infuse our hearts with the Father's unfathomable love: this revelation of tender friendship is no mere abstract concept but instead an explosion of astonishing kindness into our alienated existence. This excessive overflow of life makes it possible for us to love the Father in return with an ever abounding love that extends in unimaginable ways to all the wonders He has made. And this vision of love is Wisdom, the ancient vision which carefully imbued unrepeatable significance to each and everything that is, and this is especially true of people, the neighbors Divine Love has carefully arranged in our lives in unrepeatable constellations with great purpose. Such is the Wisdom from on High, a foolish excess of that true love from which all things came into existence and to which all existence leads. How can we learn this wisdom? How do we receive it into our hearts? With freedom - the same freedom by which Christ suffered our poverty. We must freely choose suffer our own poverty if we are to freely make space for the poverty of God. Christ reveals God's chosen poverty, the fully intentional vulnerability with which He dares to approach humanity, and no mistake can be made on this point, to approach man in all His insecurities and hostility is dangerous. To learn such foolish wisdom, we must surrender to Him, we must trust Him who trusts in us so much more. Christ is the Father's Word entrusted into the arms of Mary, into the protection of Joseph, into the precarious poverty of a manipulated and oppressed people, into a culture so weighed down by fate it could find no reason to hope. His first Word, His final Word, His only Word, the Father spoke Him into the brokenness of this world and into hostile voids of our hearts. His mission is to fill our nihilistic emptiness with eternal meaning, with new life, with love that is stronger than death. This is what Christian prayer seeks when it soberly attends to the silence and the darkness of this present life. Contemplation baptized in Christ bows one's whole being in adoration before the splendor of the Father, and this same contemplation lifts up in jubilation the deepest truth about who we really are before this mystery of Love. Such simple contemplation enjoys complete freedom from the need to attain any expected outcome, or arrive at explanation, or achieve some conscious state or acquire any other psychological satisfaction. Christian prayer, in fact, delights in what cannot be understood or anticipated or felt or achieved because by faith it knows the Holy Trinity is always more than what we imagine or intuit or produce or conceive. This kind of prayer looks into heartrending sorrow, suffering, loneliness with eyes that have the freedom to see unfathomable love. The world needs this Wisdom now more than ever, the wisdom of a heart that makes space for the vision of God is a source of hope.

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