Dr. Robert Ludwig delivers Prayer in Cosmic Light at Loyola University Chicago’s Institute of Pastoral Studies Commissioning Ceremony March 12, 2010.
Prayer is energy. It is opening ourselves to the divine energy that creates and sustains the cosmos. It is directing that energy towards other energy maps: persons, situations, events, circumstances. Prayer draws us into the very center of the dynamic of cosmogenesis, where numinous, personal compassion mysteriously reconciles and harmonizes. Effective prayer requires our maximum attention and focus. Distractions from without and within must be noticed, but set aside, as we concentrate fully on the sacred Source who is love itself. Prayer requires effort, because we are so self-absorbed, so preoccupied with our fears and desires, so distracted by our concerns, petty and large. In prayer, we give ourselves and our field of influence over to this personal source of perfect compassion and open our consciousness with all its psychic powers to the great Mystery that rules the universe.
Prayer is a deeply personal encounter with the personal presence which permeates everything. Like all personal encounters, it moves gradually and with much hesitation towards trust and genuine openness, demanding in turn self-revelation, self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-assertion, self-surrender. Prayer leads us from alienation and distancing toward intimacy and communion. In the process, we give over our efforts to dominate and control, gradually yielding and finally surrendering. We are drawn out of ourselves and into the divine milieu, enlarging our field of vision, recognizing ourselves as part of an immensity, a flow, a great mystery, an intricate web of interaction. Some mystics compare it to a dance–a wondrous, music-drenched dance, where movement and personal presence cause our self-consciousness to melt and our awareness of everything around us to be heightened. Prayer leads us to awareness–alert noticing and empathy.
Thomas Merton reminds us that the love of God, which seeks us in every situation and seeks our good, also seeks our awakening. It is in and through prayer that we are awakened and our freedom reconnected with the purpose within the universe.
Praying for others is directing this focus on divine love outwards towards other energy maps, sending our openness and our yielding to circumstances and situations external to ourselves. It isn’t asking God to change her mind, nor is it a magical effort to control according to our own desires and fears. It is reflecting radial energy, focusing it with our psychic powers, communicating compassion. We send peace and harmony and love towards others to become part of the dynamic process affecting their energy field. The power of prayer is the power of radial energy communicated in and through the capacities of our own consciousness.
In Catholicism, as with Christianity generally, we pray in and with the risen and cosmic Christ. In his complete and total surrender to God in life and in death, Jesus has been swept up in the compassion of God which rules the universe. This is the meaning of the tradition that he is now “sitting at the right hand of God.” He has given himself over to the radial energy which seeks to reconcile all things and harmonize the cosmos. He is in complete communion with the creative force that brings everything into being and nurtures life and thought and love. In consciously joining ourselves to him, clinging to his surrender and his openness, we can and do experience a letting go of our external self with all of its fears and desires and an openness to God’s Basileia, where healing and liberation put us in harmony with the elegance of the universe and its divine source and goal.