3. Being and Work Integrated

Published on Kung Kao Po,

Chinese Catholic Weekly, on 19th July, 2020

By the power of the Holy Spirit, the prayer through the use of the mantra "Maranatha" can lead us to God to reach His complete `Being’. However, if our prayer is not integrated with our life and work (Doing), it can easily result in incongruity and imbalance.

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke's Gospel (10:32-42) encompasses the relationship between prayer (generally referring to all kinds of prayer, in particular the simple, silent contemplative prayer) and work.

Modern people tend to bury themselves in work (even to the point of addiction). This becomes like Martha in the Gospel who acted as if she was losing the other half of her soul. Jesus reminded Martha on the spot by alerting her that Mary “has chosen a better part.” In the practice of Jesus' ministry in evangelization, we see a wonderful balance between action and contemplative prayer. After preaching and healing the sick in the countryside, Jesus often retreated to a quiet place and prayed to the Heavenly Father.

I remember Father Laurence Freeman OSB, Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, has given us a reminder: action and contemplative prayer are two sides of one self. We are all Mary(s) and Martha(s). Perhaps we would wish to be Maria, fully engaged in prayer or meditation. However, we need to reach a balance: we cannot be just Maria or Martha. The two needs to be integrated mutually with each other at the right time, as St. Benedict emphasized in His Rule: There should be time for prayer (Ora)and time for work(labora).

The church has quite often been focusing on work and services, and some people have even forgotten Jesus' praise towards Mary. Many people engage themselves in different services taking care of others. They also dedicate themselves in different kinds of discursive prayers, such as the prayer of praise, worship, gratitude as well as ritual prayer, which are important and effective kinds of prayer whereas Mary’s wordless contemplative prayer, conducted with deep and self-forgetting listening towards the Lord, seems to belong merely to the prayer of the monks(or a minority of the laity).

Would the church discern the need to return truthfully in poverty and spirit so that those in the church could once again be connected with the ancient contemplative prayer, to be traced back to the teachings of Jesus?

by Lina Lee, Hon Member, The World Community for Christian Meditation (Hong Kong)

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