Sunday, April 17, 2011

"I can just as well pray in the forest, in the freedom of nature."

"But against that could then rightly be voiced the objection that is always to be heard:  I can just as well pray in the forest, in the freedom of nature.  Certainly, anyone can.  But if it were only a matter of that, then the initiative in prayer would lie entirely with us; then God would be a mental hypothesiswhether he answers, whether he can answer or wants to, would remain open.  The Eucharist means, God has answered:  The Eucharist is God as an answer, as an answering presence.  Now the initiative no longer lies with us, in the God-man relationship, but with him, and it now becomes really serious.  That is why, in the sphere of eucharistic adoration, prayer attains a new level; now it is two-way, and so now it really is a serious business.  Indeed, it is now not just two-way, but all-inclusive:  whenever we pray in the eucharistic presence, we are never alone.  Then the whole of the Church, which celebrates the Eucharist, is praying with us.  Then we are praying within the sphere of God's gracious hearing, because we are praying within the sphere of death and resurrection, that is, where the real petition in all our petitions has been heard:  the petition for the victory over death; the petition for the love that is stronger than death."

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The presence of the Lord in the sacrament" (1978), in God is near us:  the Eucharist, the heart of life, ed. Stephan Otto Horn and Vinzenz Pfnür, trans. Henry Taylor (San Francisco, CA:  Ignatius Press, 2003), 90-91 (74-93).  This goes to the heart of all authentically Christian prayer.  All prayer, insofar as it is Christian, is built on the confidence that "God has answered," and the Real Presence is the most concretely sacramental form of "God as answer" that we have in this life.