I recently read a comment online wherein someone asked if prayer was an escape meant to transcend this secular existence we all face. As I thought about that question and its implications, it occurred to me that I see prayer, not as an escape but, rather, as a drink we are meant to then share with the world.
To see prayer as an escape implies that, as Catholics and Christians, we are somehow striving to flee this rock we call home for a relatively few number of decades in comparison to eternity. Believe me, many times I remember an old 60s ( or was it 70s?) commercial where this woman would bathe with Calgon soap and cry “Calgon, take me away!” which implied that, somehow, that soap was so good that it took you to another world for the length of your bath. Is prayer a bar of Calgon? Is the idea behind prayer to “get out of town” for a while? While we would perhaps like to think so, it is not.
Escaping is a very attractive option for Christians. After all, we have been in the eye of the storm since day one, and running for your life seemed a good idea when Nero was running the show. The popular notion of the praying hermit or the cloistered nun invokes the sense that, to be holy, one must transcend this earth, hide from it, so to speak. However, while some are called to do that, most are not. Christ was tempted to avoid His Cup but, in the end, He drank it. Prayer is that Cup. We may think it is a magic potion designed to help us get away from this mess but, alas, that is not what it is meant to do. In fact, praying to avoid our duty as Christians makes no sense at all.
Would a good pilot pray that he never flies again? Would a good surgeon pray that he never operates again? No, if we want to follow Christ, truly walk in His footsteps, we have to see prayer as a drink, and the Holy Eucharist as the food, which will strengthen us, not to head for the fence, but to turn around and march right into the mess with Christ in our heart.
Feeling thirsty today? Pray, and then go to the trenches knowing Christ is by your side.
Copyright, 2012, Gabriel Garnica