James Martin, S.J.: The intellectual insights of prayer

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Last week we talked about what happens in prayer. That is, what happens when you close your eyes? Well one thing to pay attention to is insights. Often, we have a tendency to privilege emotional moments over the more intellectual ones in our spiritual life. For example, someone might say, “Oh I was so moved when I read about Jesus’ stilling of the storm that I started to cry.” But intellectual insights are just as important. Remember that when Jesus taught in parables he wanted people to see things in a new way, in addition to feel things in a new way. In other words, he was inviting them to insight.

So when you’re praying about a Bible passage, or just imagining yourself with Jesus, or walking along a beach, you may suddenly understand the solution to a problem that’s been plaguing you, or grasp something essential about your life, or just see the world—or God—in a new, clearer, way. And this may come without a great deal of emotion. So even if you’re not weeping buckets of tears, remember to see this as one way that God is communicating with you. Remember that this insight may be an important gift from God.

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rose-ellen caminer
5 months ago

I know what you are saying. Many times when someone says something or I read something that rings so clearly true; an idea, or a belief or an insight, I experience the comfort and joy that real intelligence evokes; the presence of a good God is manifest in such clear,usually simple truths, that clear away all surrounding half truths and lies,expressed by other people.It hits you[me] suddenly;the joy of hearing the truth , the holiness of it.

lynne miller
5 months ago

Thank you!

lynne miller
5 months ago

Thank you!

Jack Leo
5 months ago

So, this article may help me understand a frequent occurrence I have experienced. Many times, while reading a passage from scripture, or reading reflections on scripture, I have felt God's presence so very close to me. In my excitement to share the experience, I ask friends to read the same writing ... and the reaction is often, "meh" ... or it was just "ok" . I often wondered why that was so. It could be explained by the holiness that was there for those fleeting moments when I may have been in a personal encounter with God. Possible? Has this happened to anyone else?

Bruce Snowden
5 months ago

Not all of them, but some Pharisees were rotten eggs, out to kill Jesus, this with help from Temple clergy. Like the Pharisee who seduced an adulteress to have sex with him (a Scripture teacher said that) then turned her in for punishment, which according to Mosaic Law was stoning to death. Maybe the woman willingly agreed to have unlawful sex with this uninvited intruder, or maybe she strongly resented his sexual abuse afraid to say “no” hearing her sexually abusive killer say in her dying moments as rocks left her a bloody, battered corpse, “She tried to seduce me!”

Jesus also witnessed the happening and was ready for what would come next. The sexually abusive Pharisee approached Jesus standing nearby and asked his opinion on what to do with the woman about to be stoned to death. Jesus responded, “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone!” That response spared the woman but would nail Jesus to the Cross, his answer a violation of the Mosaic Code, a perfect reason to kill Jesus.

I wonder if that teaching improperly applied played a part in the Church’s closed-mouth reaction to clergy/laity sexual abuse everywhere? Another reason for seminarian closed mouth behavior to sexual abuse by former Cardinal Mc Carrick and others? I’m no theological expert, having the correct answer, nor am I a theological timid in proposals! My explorative question, hopes for definitive response


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