In my inbox this morning …

America Media, which publishes America magazine and maintains an online presence, has been sending out Lenten meditations this month. So today we got a “Reflection for the Thursday of the Third Week of Lent” by assistant editor Molly Cahill, who acknowledges: “I am pretty good at thinking and talking about prayer. Unfortunately, I am pretty bad at actually praying.”

Which got my attention! For obvious reasons.

A cradle Catholic who went to parochial schools, Cahill further acknowledges, “I have the buzzwords locked down enough to make it sound like I know what I’m talking about” but “knowing how to analyze prayer does not necessarily mean that your prayer life is super fruitful or that your personal relationship with God is strong.”

Well, I’m not a cradle Catholic (I’m not even a cradle mainline Protestant since I left the church for so many years as a young adult), but I have an analytical turn of mind that gets me in trouble sometimes. So I read on.

As I did, Cahill scored another point with me when she said her “heart has been hardened […] by the suffering and pain in the world.” Check. In fact, my latest plans to really get into Ignatian contemplation got derailed by the war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear catastrophe (I blogged about it HERE and HERE.) Cahill went on to score again, when she acknowledged “chronic overthinking that clouds my ability to see simple things clearly.” Check, double-check and BINGO! This article’s a keeper.

What sealed the deal, though, was when Cahill went on to say, “when I want to pray now, I start by listening to music. A simple truth that might have sounded like a cliché if spoken aloud suddenly makes perfect sense when set to a tune.”

That’s me all over! So into my journal it goes.

As sort of a footnote, America appends a little Q&A under the heading “Get to know Molly Cahill, assistant editor.” It includes this:

Favorite Lent hymn: “Were You There.” There are many beautiful renditions of this spiritual, but I find this one especially moving.

She links to a nice interpretation, in close harmony, by Three Mo’ Tenors. I linked to it, too, at the top of this journal.

***

Verbatim excerpt:

As I’ve met with my spiritual director and committed to strengthening my prayer life, I have noticed something surprising: Prayers are not always spoken; sometimes they are experienced.

Keeping this in mind, when I want to pray now, I start by listening to music. A simple truth that might have sounded like a cliché if spoken aloud suddenly makes perfect sense when set to a tune. I go for a walk, and I pay close enough attention to notice something I had always ignored when I walked this route before. Most important, I spend time with people who understand the beauty of simplicity much more keenly than I do. They’re old friends, they’re colleagues, they’re roommates. Often, they’re the oldest and youngest members of my family.

As I’ve met with my spiritual director and committed to strengthening my prayer life, I have noticed something surprising: Prayers are not always spoken; sometimes they are experienced.

I resist the hardening of my heart. In fact, I feel it start to soften. I remember that the joys I experience are blessings, gifts from a God who loves me—a God who loves all of us.

In the face of these moments of connection with God, all my thinking and talking and analyzing means very little.

Cite:

Molly Cahill, “Not every prayer is spoken—some are experienced,” America, March 24, 2022 https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2022/03/24/thursday-third-week-lent-242668.

[Published March 24, 2022]

One thought on “Lenten reflection in today’s email from America magazine on prayer, music and lived experience

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