Perhaps most especially for us as monks, loving our enemies will mean praying for them, for to pray for those who hurt us is to love them. And if you’ve ever tried it, you know how dumb and awkward and even phony it can feel. But we also know that not to do so may have dire consequences. For soon the inner room of our heart will no longer be a place for prayer but a shoddy hovel for wound-licking. We pray for those who hurt us, even though it sometimes it feels impossible.
It is our work, our duty, our promise is to pray. And we know it is the only way to make sense of hurts- individual, communal, national. And so we pray- after the clergy scandals, after 9/11, after Sandy Hook, after the Boston marathon bombings. We pray. We pray for victims and for perpetrators, for politicians who believe what we do and for those who might seem to disregard our cherished values. And our praying helps us parse the incongruity, make some sense of it. Prayer helps us get to the core of things. We pray; for craziness and hurt and broken hearts are too many. We can pray because we know our own poverty; we have come to know our own foolishness. We pray because we realize that we are no better than the worst. No better.
Our praying is always for; it is our humble privilege and responsibility. In a life marked by, what our Constitutions describe as, a “hidden apostolic fruitfulness,” what we do here matters, because it lies at the heart of the Church, very close to the heart of God who sustains all things.
Our life of prayer affords us the extravagance of luxuriating in our helplessness and utter dependence on God. Our praying is always unaccomplished but perfect in in that it allows God to accomplish all things in us and through us. And perhaps our perfection as monks consists most of all in this- that we accept willingly the burden and responsibility of honest attention to our weakness, the weakness that lets us pray. This is the secret we were made for.
Photograph of the Abbey's Manning Hill by Brother Anthony Khan, Excerpts from today's Homily for July Fourth.