[A Prayer of two words]
Dear Fr O’Shea,
…. For me, prayer used to be a simple thing. I wasn’t even conscious of praying, but most of the day it wouldn’t be far away. I took for granted that God was near and he wanted to help me and everyone. But lately, I don’t know why, it got to be complicated. I can't put my finger on it…. I'd love to get back to the simple way I had…. Is there any way you help me? Thanks, Father. Arthur.
Thanks for your long letter. I posted a reply to you this morning. If you or one of your family uses a computer, you may get this version before you get the mailed one.
I feel I couldn’t do better than send you a very short piece written by a dear departed friend of mine, Fr Simon Roche OP. He was the one who in 2000 twisted my arm to start up this website. Let me tell you a couple of things about him.
He spent 26 years teaching and ministering in India. Many Dominicans, Indian and Irish, speak of the profound impact he had on the Indian mission. He was remarkably self-effacing, to the point where he was known to students as ‘The Invisible Man’, and yet he was very strong in his beliefs and policies – a difficult combination of qualities to hold together. He held many important posts, such as Vicar Provincial, and later Assistant to the Master [of the Dominican Order] for the Asia and Pacific Region, living part of the year in India and part in Rome. When his term as Assistant ended in 1992, this citizen of the world gladly took up the post of curate in Ballybeg, Waterford, living in a small community of three brethren, and working in the parish. Later, he got an additional job: he became Provincial Promoter of the Dominican Laity. This work, which he continued until 2011, was especially close to his heart. He put enormous effort into the task, his calm and positive presence supporting its ageing members. He produced a very useful handbook of texts and reflections for them, but typically, his name does not appear on it. He remained ‘The Invisible Man’ to the end.
I think this short piece might suit you, Arthur. I use it every day and I have found it very helpful. ‘The Invisible Man’ is now speaking to you too – from an invisible place.
A Prayer of Two Words
Simon Roche OP (1934 – 2016)
Mary stood at the tomb, outside, weeping.
As she wept, she bent down into the tomb
and saw two angels in white,
sitting one at the head and the other at the feet
where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they said to her, “Woman why are you crying?”
She said to them, “They have taken my Lord away,
and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Saying this she turned and saw Jesus standing,
but she did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?
Whom do you seek?”
She, thinking that he was the gardener, said to him,
“Sir, if you have removed him,
tell me where you have laid him,
and I will take him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She, turning, said to him in Hebrew,
“Rabbouni,” which means ‘Teacher.’
The Resurrection meeting of Mary Magdalene and Jesus suggests a way of prayer. Taking him to be the gardener she asks where Jesus might be. He says: “Mary!” Immediately, she recognises him and says: “Rabbouni.”
All the love that is in their hearts for each other is expressed in two words, ‘Mary’ and ‘Rabbouni’. Other words are unnecessary. This suggests a way of prayer.
Gently murmur the name Jesus. Let it resound in you. Repeat it after a space of several breaths. There is no hurry. Again, let it gently resound within.
Now say the name Jesus again. This time, after the space of a breath or two, say your own name, Anne/Peter. Continue this very gentle rhythm. Jesus… pause… Anne. It is a way of entering his presence, interleaving your life with his.
It lends itself to prayer for others. Replace your own name with that of someone for whom you wish to pray. Place them and their needs before Jesus. Jesus… pause… Michael.
It becomes a prayer for peace when the rhythm is Jesus… pause… Peace.It becomes a prayer of praise when you substitute the word ‘praise’.
A key to this prayer is its quiet unhurried rhythm. Allow the name of Jesus to fall gently within you. Do not hurry. The rhythm of time and words creates calm, leading into presence: Jesus present to you, you present to him.
The name Jesus can be replaced with Father, Spirit, Mary, or one of the saints.
This is a way of prayer that may be helpful when you are tired; or it could be a springboard to further prayer.