2014. április 15., kedd

The heart and the city

When we read and pray the Psalms, there is a special connection established between our  heart and "the city of God". This Lenten season is an opportunity to breath in this collective support which lies behind the human heart.

The human heart is never alone. There is a collective life present, to which the individual soul is attached. "Conversion" is rooted in this greater or wider life. We share the joys and pains, past and present, even future ones, of this historical community.

Perhaps, in our postmodern fragmented life, when personal relationships are weakened, this is our most important resource. There is an inerasable sense of the community in us, literally in us: beyond us. Waiting for us. Emerging through us. Rejoycing through us. Hoping through us.

Outside the world of Psalms, one can never understand the spirit of conversion to which the Lenten season invites us. This week, which is called Passion week, the scenes of Jesus's Passion-drama, with a particular force draw us into this collective dimension of conversion. Jesus prayed these ancient prayers. He has marked them and enhanced their meaning through using them. Just as we (subsequent generations) add the life of our age to their already rich collective meaning.

Collective salvation history, the particular human heart, and Jesus's life are connected and inter-related. Jesus's life is the Christ's life. The Master's life is not only a personal life, so to say. Jesus's personal passion story (today think of his betrayal by Judas Ischariot during the last supper) has a collective meaning. His life is summing up the whole of salvation history. This individual and indeed redemptive suffering (love) is rooted in the collective breathing of human history which we have just contemplated in the Psalms.


2014. április 9., szerda

Waves of the Psalms

The Book of Common Prayer (1662) offers a continuous reading of the Psalms. Compared with the Catholic tradition of daily prayer, this non-thematic arrangement is unusual. There are no spiritual themes which would organise the sequence of their readings. There is only the option of entering this deep sea and face its waves as they come. Our self is washed and shaped by these 'external' forces. And there is some humility in this way of reading the Psaltery: its themes come upon us. Our heart has only one choice: to open up to their content, and to be lead by this Narrator of our souls.
One recurring theme, which strikes me, is the pains of the heart. Psalms often show the praying person in birth-pangs of the soul, so to say. There is always something rigid, something stiff, something resistant, comes to the surface. Are these individual pains? Or, do they point beyond their particularity to something collective in us, shared by all?
Today, the following thought occurs to me. The 'hindrances' in the psalmist's life, at the same time, are also collective anxieties and questions. In them, when we pray individually, the inertia of collective history reveals itself. What is in my heart, as a prayer, is also history's effort to bring into the conscious, what is unnamed. What has been unnamed, unspoken, not only to history itself, but what is still 'unpronounced' by us. When we pray the Psalms: our history is being transformed. Into what? Into a 'speaking being', which is increasingly capable of telling his story: deeply hidden in God; and deeply hidden in himself.
One more thought. This walking into the waves of the continuous sequence of Psalms, also has to do something with our personal lives, the interactions which we perform with those with whom we live or work. Personal love − its joys and failures − makes visible that collective ground of our self, which the waves of the Psaltery uncover. The personal, the collective, and the interpersonal, after a while, all live together in this life-giving Sea.


2014. április 8., kedd

A sacred journey


I am just getting familiar with the Book of Common Prayer. Old English. Besides the archaism of the language, there is another level of the sense of 'history'. As if all cultures, instinctively, had the sense that they have to 'build' a sacred language. As if a culture, instinctively or deliberately, had the rational knowledge, those human experiences, desires, religious hopes, with all the passions that a culture went through in the past and can go through in the future, which must be preserved in the form of prayer. Which body of sacred prayers will forever remain 'detached' from the turmoil and experiences of the forthcoming ages. Which is why, this language anchored in the past, constitutes a 'sacred heritage'. A sacred memory.

Religion, when offers these ancient 'historical' forms of prayer, does a crucial service to culture. Through these prayers, the inhabitants of our culture make a powerful attempt to return to that 'sacred memory' from which 'distance' our present consciousness can be purified. Thus, prayer is an attempt to renew our consciousness, individual and collective. We need this distance from our presence.

When 'journeying' in the words of the Book of Common Prayer, I have the sense of walking together with previous generations of faith and history. The footsteps of those dead and alive (through this journey all of us are resurrected!) can be heard. History becomes real. This is a wonderful experience: our culture can speak a common language. We are in a journey − Exodus − towards our truer self...  Towards a shared vantage point from which not only our present can be judged better and seen more clearly, but also where we find the genuine source of renewal. I would almost say, that of our Resurrection.


08.04. 2014