by Gilles Castelnau
translation Louise Thunin
In intercessory prayer, we tell God everything that’s going wrong, what he could do about it, and what the world needs. Yet God is within us and does not act without us. He is the Holy Spirit, the Breath mingling with our own breathing, the strength that inspires our acts. He calls thoughts of peace and brotherhood to us, at times when bitterness and aggressiveness overflow our hearts.
We cannot see God, as everyone knows. But we can recognize that he was there: when a burst of fraternal feeling opened our heart to our neighbor; in the words we spoke and in our creative gestures. When, in spite of everything we could have expected, we managed to arise and walk on a path that was nonetheless dark; it was his strength that fortified ours. When doctors found therapies to improve treatments for children suffering from leukemia, cancer or AIDS, it was he who gave them the tenacity and intelligence to succeed. When technicians invented MRI, catscans and doppler examinations, which considerably increase our life expectancy, it was he who inspired their scientific mastery. When political representatives wrote laws that protect the vulnerable (revenue solidarity, anti-eviction laws in winter). When they join with the authorities in other countries to try and solve the diverse catastrophes that plague the world, it was God who lent, insofar as possible, his intelligence to the minds of men of good will.
It is unjust and undeserved to attempt to suggest to God, in our prayers, that he would do well to take better care of our world. He would rightly reply that we are not to assign tasks and responsibilities to him that are our own, and which, moreover, he created us capable of assuming. Prayer is more truly a quiet meditation, in which we become conscious, in his presence, of the cosmic life force that he renews in us.