Reflections on the Teaching of Vatican II Through the Magisterium of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Friendly Critique of Bishop Barron's Separation of Work and Prayer
Bishop Robert Barron: "Where is Your Mountain?"
As we continue our meditations, especially focusing on the Transfiguration, I would like to reflect on prayer. Studies show that prayer is a very common, popular activity. Even many people who profess no belief in God still pray!
But what precisely is prayer—or better, what ought it to be? The Transfiguration is extremely instructive. We hear that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him “up the mountain to pray.” Now, as we’ve said before, mountains are standard Biblical places of encounter with God. The idea was that the higher you go, the closer you come to God.
We don’t have to be literal about this, but we should unpack its symbolic sense. In order to commune with God, you have to step out of your every day, workaday world. The mountain symbolizes transcendence, otherness, the realm of God. If people say, “I pray on the go” or “my work is my prayer,” they’re not really people of prayer.
Your mountain could be church, a special room in your house, the car, or a corner of the natural world. But it has to be someplace where you have stepped out of your ordinary business. And you have to take the time to do it. Jesus and his friends literally stepped away in order to pray.
The text then says, “While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white” (Luke 9:29). The reference here is to Moses whose face was transfigured after he communed with God on Mt. Sinai. But the luminosity is meant in general to signal the invasion of God.
In the depths of prayer, when you have achieved a communion with the Lord, the light of God’s presence is kindled deep inside of you, at the very core of your existence. And then it begins to radiate out through the whole of your being. That’s why it is so important that Luke mentions the clothing of Jesus becoming dazzling white. Clothes evoke one’s contact with the outside world.
The God discovered in prayer should radiate out through you to the world, so that you become a source of illumination.
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Friendly Critique of: "you have to step out of your every day, workaday world. The mountain symbolizes transcendence, otherness, the realm of God. If people say, 'I pray on the go' or 'my work is my prayer,' they’re not really people of prayer.
"Your mountain could be church, a special room in your house, the car, or a corner of the natural world. But it has to be someplace where you have stepped out of your ordinary business. And you have to take the time to do it. Jesus and his friends literally stepped away in order to pray."
Blogger: Bishop Barron has all the tools to conclude differently. He has consistently presented the deepest meaning of reality (taken from Col. 1, 15-19 and John 1, 4) to be the very Person of Jesus Christ [See his "The Priority of Christ," Brazos Press, (2007) 133-135]. And he has understood that Person to be constitutively relational to the Father. He has interpreted the Thomistic meaning of Being as "Esse" to be the metaphysical rendering of reality as constitutively relational. Hence, he has the tools to interpret work both in Adam and in Christ crucified as the total gift of self - or prayer. That is, work in itself can, and must become, prayer as self-gift to the Father in the service of others. It is a misunderstanding of his total intellectual achievement to separate them. True, as created and finite, we need to separate ourselves from daily work and ordinary business and life to concentrate and intensify the relation to Christ and the Father in solitude at particular and regular intervals. But, it is an error to separate ordinary life from contemplative and mystical achievement on principle.