Berg: Angels of prayer
There is in every man, woman, and child an infinite abyss that can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God himself. Out of this built-in need or desire as well as out of our situational need, the deeper ranges of prayer emerge. In these deeper ranges, prayer and self-chosen sacrifice converge not only for the purification of the individual, but more importantly, for the world. This deepest practice of prayer, known as “contemplative,” involves the radical separation from the world to encounter God on the deepest spiritual level.
Crucially, quietly and constantly, the person called to contemplative prayer confronts internally the most important need of the world today. That is, to encounter God not only because we need God, but simply because he is God and we are not. This is to courageously depart from the world, enter a community, and encounter the mystery of infinite divinity with awe, wonder and fear of the Lord in its most absolute dimension, as made humanly possible only by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Contemplative prayer is the very essence of monastic life. Men and women who are called to this life as monks and nuns bring the very heartbeat of God, virtually invisibly and therefor more powerfully and actively alive, into the local community. This contemplative orientation, through self-sacrificial prayer, establishes more firmly the social structures, values, and benefits that the world needs. We have such a monastic community here in Pueblo. For 22 years the Capuchin Poor Clare sisters have been the hidden, quiet, powerful prayer engine of the Diocese of Pueblo, praying for all people, whether churched or not, over the territory of southern Colorado and the western slope of the diocese.
The community is expanding from five to (soon) ten sisters and, for this purpose, we are building a new monastery. They will be moving from a small residence into a modern facility located in Blende. We will be breaking ground, God willing, in three weeks, and will give advance notice in this newspaper soon. The power of our contemplative prayer engine is now to be multiplied, a wonderful gift of the Spirit to our community and our world.
The prayer and self-sacrifice of our Poor Clare sisters has been with us through good times and bad. Their witness passes through prayers of intercession which are unceasing. As you wake during the night, know that the Poor Clares are praying for you. The prayer of contemplation passes through the needs of the world into a great simplicity of theological faith, hope and love. It passes through the temporal and transient and penetrates every hidden department of our lives.
We are lifted without our knowledge of the source of the work being done. The Poor Clares in our midst bring a compelling and commanding presence of silent angels, God’s angels of prayer. Thus does God’s work grow in the world, and so shall our service be renewed.
The Most Reverend Stephen J. Berg is the fifth bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo