Saturday, 25 April 2015

Communion of Saints - Three

Our focus for this series is on the Communion of Saints, with particular attention payed to the notion of "communion"; noting that there is a significant difference between being a practitioner of religion and living in the "Communion of the Faithful". The key word here is "living". True religion is alive and active, animating all aspects of our lives. The question then is what is the source of life in true religion, a living faith? 

In our last post we turned to chapter six of John's gospel for insight. Noting that it was divided into three parts:
  • PART 1: vs. 1-15 ... feeding the five thousand people.
  • PART 2: vs. 16-24 ... disciples dark night on the sea, Jesus walking on the sea.
  • PART 3: vs. 25-71 ... discourse on the Bread of Life.
We have looked at PART 1. We now look at PART 2.

There are actually three accounts of Jesus' disciples struggling on the sea at night, and Jesus coming to them, walking on the water:

  1. Matthew 14:21-33
  2. Mark 6:45-52
  3. John 6:16-21

These passages lend itself so very well to the Ignatian approach to contemplation. There are different senses in which we can look at a passage of scripture. 

  1. There is the literal/historic sense, where you look at the passage as it is literally laid out before you.
  2. There is the spiritual sense, where the elements of the literal picture take on more symbolic, more personal meaning for you. Here we find three possible meanings to take from a passage.
  • The allegorical sense, where the disciples in the boat can mean the community of the Church, the sea the modern world.
  • The moral sense, where Peter on the water represents my soul and the struggles I am facing right now.
  • The anagogical sense, where Jesus saving peter is now Jesus intervening in my present life situation and what the outcome will be.

Start by reading each of these three accounts, just to get the full picture. Here is a >LINK< to Voices File Cabinet, showing them in parallel format. Here is a >LINK< to a web page that lets you line up different passages side by side.

It is most important that we realize that what makes Praying On a passage of Scripture fruitful is the presence and action of grace. Unless the Lord comes into the dynamic of our praying, it is just us alone in our thoughts. But when the Lord enters, our thoughts and feelings will emerge out of the prompting of his grace, inspiring us, and leading us to insights we would never have achieved on our own.

We cannot conjure up the Lord's presence, we do not make him come. We ask, in all humility, that he come into our prayer and guide us.

There are three separate accounts of the event on which we are praying. Using all three helps us get the big picture by taking note of the different elements the others have not included. 


  • In Mt and Mk, it is Jesus who "makes" the disciple to get into the boat and head out on the sea at night. In the dark night they loose sight of the Jesus they know and trust. This is deliberate, so that a new Jesus can be revealed to them. [When we think we know all there is to know about us and Jesus, he must take that away from us in order to take our relationship to a new and deeper level.] 
  • Mt and Mk tell us that Jesus enters into prayer. [It is in and through prayer that the plan for our life is discovered.]
  • The wind is against them. [The Wind/Spirit is driving our ship.]
  • An unexpected Jesus now appears and at first they are greatly disturb by what they are seeing. [When "the Jesus" we knew is gone and the new is revealed, we often have confusion and turmoil accepting him.]
  • Peter (us?) is will to experiment with the new. But his trust sinks under the challenge. However, Jesus will not let him flounder. [Peter is us, the turbulent sea our world reality, his sinking a measure of faith]
  • Why did you doubt – you of little faith – not understanding the “new bread” – the same boat but a new shore. [What does this all mean to you?]

Are you ready to enter this boat, to embark on a stormy sea in the dark, loose connection with the comfort level of your faith, find yourself in a new places? 

 Praying On a Passage of Scripture
  • PLACE: choosing a place with a measure of quiet and solitude.
  • PRESENCE: entering this prayer expecting to be guided by Grace.
  • PETITION: asking for the graces that will make this prayer fruitful.
  • PASSAGE: preparing a passage of scripture for reflection.
  • PRAYER: entering the passage, looking, listening, imagining you are there, focusing on various persons, collecting your thoughts, feelings, reaction. 
  • PRAISE and thanks: closing with a prayer formed in your own words, as one speaking face to face to another; expressing your gratitude for the blessings and guidance received in this prayer time.

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