How prayer cultivates unity

In case you can’t tell by the title of my blog, I have a heart for bringing people together. I struggle with the negative impact divisive political and religious discourse is having on our society. I want to use my voice to spread uplifting messages that help people connect to God and each other in a positive way.

Unity is a challenge. Though we’re alike deep down, we’re often conditioned into fear-based thinking, which causes us to mistrust and sometimes hate those, who think differently than us.  We’re deeply entrenched into opinions that are often shaped by misinformation. We’re better at arguing than empathizing and judging, rather than understanding. Collectively, we’re basically collectively doing everything the opposite of what St. Francis advised in his peacemaker prayer:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life

The more I reflect on the topic of unity, the more I believe the solution is personal encounter with God. When we are graced to experience God’s love for ourselves like Saint Francis did, our need to be right and control others melts away, and we’re infused with gifts of the spirit including wisdom and understanding that allow us to bring healing into areas of division. When we spend time in prayer and meditation, God can give us the grace to love others like He does, which can allow others to encounter God’s love through us.

Sufi mystical poet Rumi wrote:

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.

Through time spent in contemplative prayer, I think I know the field that Rumi described. Instead of pretending like I have all the answers, I want to direct readers to seek out their own place of deep connection with God, which mystics of all traditions seem to discover. When we set a goal to connect with God and persevere, He can guide us along the path toward union with Him.

All of my poems are based on my own personal encounters with God in prayer and life in general. Though my faith is strengthened by practicing Catholicism, and I feel called write about treasures of our prayer tradition sometimes, I have no desire to force my religion on anyone. Though I am a graduate student happily gobbling up everything I can learn about spiritual theology, I think there are already too many people arguing about the intricate details of faith-that’s not my bag.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote “All concepts of God are like a jar we break, because only the infinite can contain our perfect love.”  The more I learn on my spiritual journey, the more I realize that in my humanity, I will never fully grasp the infinite reality of God she describes.

Through sharing my perceptions of the interior life of the soul, I hope to direct attention to the invisible reality St. Teresa describes, which has the power to unite us in a spirit of love and truth.

In order to spread a message of unity, I want to be a bit of what St. Teresa might call a jar breaker. I want to help people realize as helpful as religion can be, ultimately God is operating beyond religion and more loving to all of us than we can possibly imagine. I want to point to the unity and love for all of us that exists in our Heavenly Father, while still being authentic about practicing my faith tradition.

Ultimately, religion should direct us into that unknowable realm of God. And ultimately, politics should be shaped by those, who have a deep connect with His love for everyone.

Are you as frustrated with divisive political and religious rhetoric as I am these days? Do you agree that we’re all equally loved by God and encountering God through prayer is a wonderful way to unite with Him and each other? Have you had a personal encounter with God that you’re willing to share in comments? Did it change the way you think about politics or religion? 

Thank You GOD for the gift of who You ultimately are! You are so much more loving than we could ever hope for or imagine or deserve. Please melt away the divisive forces of hatred and fear that cause so much distress in our society. Unite us in the spirit of Your unfailing love and mercy. In Jesus name, Amen. 

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