A Tribute to Wisdom: The Corporate Nature of Prayer

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a tribute to wisdom
a tribute to wisdom

A tribute to wisdom.

Even as a a college kid, wisdom was frequently the word I used. Not education, but it was wisdom I was after. Looking back, I see the desire as providential, because I got into the habit of searching—a good thing, I think. That is… if one is clear about her goal.

Once back as a believer, one of the very first things I did was to read the Bible. Although much of what I read was opaque-even incomprehensible, two books seemed oddly familiar. Reading the books of Wisdom and the Psalms felt right…fitting…packed full of precisely what I hungered for.

Many years later, while experiencing a prolonged period of what my then spiritual director would explain was desolation, I came upon these words in the Office of Readings of the Divine Liturgy.

…..wisdom is the refulgence of eternal light,

the spotless mirror of the power of God,

the image of his goodness.

And she, who is one, can do all things,

renewing everything while herself perduring;

And passing into holy souls from age to age,

she produces friends of God and prophets.

Lectio Divina- A Tribute to wisdom.

I spent close to an hour on that stanza, each word feeling like drops of gentle rain on my soul. There was so much contained there. Each word acted like balm, the most precious of ointments.

When I told my spiritual director, Father Paul McCollum about the experience, I began to cry, the emotions far too intense to be released in any other fashion. Two of the primary elements of my intense reaction were the phrase “producing friends of God” and the use of the pronoun “She.” I was affected so powerfully that I could not speak about it.

Very gently, he asked, “You know what has happened to you, right?”

To my non-verbal shake of the head, Fr. Paul explained this process of desolation followed by consolation that our Lord sometimes uses with the faithful.

The Corporate Nature of Prayer

What does that even mean? Any why talk about ‘corporate prayer?’

Why indeed? 

This perfect storm of “coincidences” has been spreading for seven months and there seems no hope for relief:

  • A global pandemic of illness, fear, and economic catastrophe.
  • Worldwide closing of churches due to fear of contagion.
  •  A time of unprecedented political enmity.
  • Rioters in major cities who seem to be receiving mysterious financial support and have adopted the symbol of the French Revolution- the guillotine to demonstrate their desire to overthrow all social order.
  • A significant and growing proportion of Americans – of humanity- who have lost any conception of God, His Law, and the extraordinary gift of Life brought by the Resurrection of the Christ.

That phrase, “corporate nature of prayer,” connotes mega-corporations and bureaucracy- the antithesis of prayer. But it’s the origin of the word, corpartus or ‘to form into a body’ that I write about here. For we are a body- we baptized Christians. Even if the Baptism is but a faint memory and you make jokes about the last time you were in a church.

“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”

And so when I pray the Office, and when I meditate on some passage that pierces my psyche and heart, I am praying for you…even if you think you no longer believe in God.

Despite the feelings of loneliness, fear, and depression that periodically overwhelm, trust that I and all the faithful are praying for you. For we know that right now, you cannot pray for yourself. “For through Him we have access to the Father, we are strangers and sojourners no more but fellow citizens with the saints and the members of God’s household.”

A Tribute to Wisdom: The Corporate Nature of Prayer.

For in her [Wisdom] is a spirit

   intelligent, holy, unique,

Manifold, subtle, agile,

   clear, unstained, certain,

Not baneful, loving the good, keen,

    unhampered, beneficent, kindly,

Firm, secure,tranquil

    all-powerful, all-seeing,

And pervading all spirits,

   though they be intelligent, pure and very subtle.

For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion,

   and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason

       of her purity.

For she is an aura of the might of God

      and a pure effusion of the glory of the Almighty;

      therefore nought that is sullied enters into her.

For she is the refulgence of eternal light,

      the spotless mirror of the power of God,

       the image of his goodness.

And she, who is one, can do all things,

       and renews everything while herself perduring; 

And passing into holy souls from age to age,

        she produces friends of God and prophets.

For there is nought God loves, be it not one who dwells

        with Wisdom.

For she is fairer than the sun

        and surpasses every constellation of the stars.

Compared to light, she takes precedence;

        for that, indeed, night supplants,

        but wickedness prevails not over Wisdom.

Book of Wisdom 7: 15-30

 

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