Prayer, a journey
by ENZO BIANCHI
The goal of this journey and this relationship is the conformity of our human life to the image of God, Jesus Christ
“There is no labor greater than prayer.” How many young monks in the desert received this response from the elder or abba they had questioned. And the difficulty remains as time passes, though it assumes different nuances. Every generation, and each person in every generation, has the task of gathering together the legacy of prayer handed down to him or her and redefining it - and one can only redefine prayer if one prays! It is difficult today to understand the definition of prayer as an ‘elevation of the soul to God’ that has traversed both the Christian East and West. After Auschwitz, many have asked whether it is still possible to pray at all. I think that the response to this question should not be limited to replacing the title given to God since the beginning, ‘Omnipotent,’ with the title ‘Impotent’ (there are those who speak of the ‘all-weakness’ - omni-impotentia - of God). It seems to me that if we do this, we remain within the logic of theodicy. Instead, if we take seriously the fact that many at Auschwitz, as in so many other living hells, died praying, I think we can understand prayer as the believer’s journey toward his or her God - or better, as his or her awareness of this journey. Christian prayer thus becomes the space in which our images of God are purified. It implies the difficult daily struggle of leaving behind our manufactured images of God in order to draw nearer to the God revealed in the crucified and risen Christ, the true image of God given to humanity.