Prayers (Ann Aubrey Hanson)


(Part 4 of a 6-part series based on an interview with George Hoelzeman, Medieval scholar and liturgical artist.)

Life today doesn’t call us to prayer, and as a result, we often lose sight of Christ, of being in His care, of living in His embrace. In the quiet of these churches, you can sit and pray with the ancients, pouring your heart out to God, and let the world dash madly by you. The stones dampen sound from the world outside, and you can hear your own heartbeat in the hush of the church. Tiny sounds echo here, footsteps or whispers of visitors, so how much more must prayers echo in the ears of God?

Basilique Saint Sernin, Toulouse (Haute-Garonne)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Basilique Saint Sernin, Toulouse (Haute-Garonne) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Prayers are a recovery of the presence of Christ. In prayer, silent or voiced, we reconnect with the Divine, if just for a moment, leaving the realm of the ordinary and mortal, and touching on the everlasting. Each church has a center for prayer, for the masses or for the individual, quiet corners that call to us to stop, to contemplate, to touch the Divine.

Église Saint-Laurent d'Auzon, Auzon (Haute-Loire)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Église Saint-Laurent d’Auzon, Auzon (Haute-Loire) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

And yet, it may not be a side chapel that calls to you and makes you pause. You may simply be stopped by a piece of art, a carved blessing, or the profoundness of a stained glass window.

Eglise Saint Pere, Saint Pere-sous-Vézelay (Yonne)  Photo by Dennis Aubrey

Eglise Saint Pere, Saint Pere-sous-Vézelay (Yonne) Photo by Dennis Aubrey

“Lord, teach us how to pray,” the disciples asked. And He taught us a prayer in His own words: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.”

Does a more perfect prayer exist?

(Next: Bearing the Weight of Mystery.)

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