Monday 29th August 2016

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Prayer As Reversed Thunder

July 4, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By DONALD DeMARCO

George Herbert (1593-1633) is one of those rare human beings who combined both scholarship and artistry with personal sanctity. In his three years of ministry as a clergyman, he preached and prayed, visited the poor, consoled the sick, and sat by the bed of the dying — administering true pastoral care to the privileged and the plowman alike.
He rebuilt his church out of his own pocket. Unfortunately, consumption cut his life short. His reputation as a major poet rests solely on a single volume that was published shortly after his death by a friend to whom it had been left.
In his poem, Prayer (1), he makes the thought-provoking remark that prayer is “reversed thunder.” For many of us who are disappointed by God’s alleged silence, the word “thunder” seems to be quite an exaggeration. St. Augustine, however, a poet in his own right, would have taken delight in this expression. He once remarked that “God does not hear us as man hears.”
As he went on to explain, “Unless you shout with your lungs and chest and lips, a mere man does not hear; whereas to God your very thoughts shout.” Even our thoughts can be virtual thunder to God’s ears.
It is most comforting to think that God is so attentive to our thoughts that He receives them as if they were shouts. Alfred Lord Tennyson speaks of “Battering the gates of heaven with storms of prayer.” Nonetheless, “thunder” is a metaphor and not the only one that Herbert uses in the same poem. Prayer is also the “heart in pilgrimage,” “the soul’s blood,” and “Church-bells beyond the stars heard.” The word metaphor means “to reach beyond.” All prayer is metaphorical inasmuch as it reaches beyond ourselves as it wings its way to God.
The image of the church bell is particularly rich in meaning. It is the voice of God (vox Dei) summoning people to pray and at the same time a prayer in itself that resonates upward to Heaven. The church bell is an intermediary between God and man, combining in a single sound both God’s “thunder” and man’s own thunderous response.
Prayer is our answer to God speaking to us. Reading the Bible is God speaking to us; prayer is our speaking to God. The two are opposite ends of the same spectrum.
If we do not hear God’s voice as “thunder,” we may hear it as a persistent nagging voice. C.S. Lewis, in his insightful article, “The Efficacy of Prayer,” recounts an experience that continued to astonish him and caused him to think more deeply into the mysterious potentialities of prayer.
He got up one morning intending to travel to London and prepare for the trip by getting his hair cut. The morning’s mail, however, made it clear that the London trip was no longer needed. Therefore, he decided not to get his hair cut. But an unaccountable and persistent nagging began in his mind, almost like a voice saying, “Get it cut all the same. Go and get it cut.”
His “voice” finally won out over his practical judgment. The very moment he opened the door of the barber shop, the barber said to him, “Oh, I was praying you might come today.” The barber was a Christian who was experiencing many troubles. As C.S. Lewis notes, “If I had come a day or so later I should have been of no use to him.”
Such experiences cannot be explained by chance alone. We can also think of God as a kind of divine satellite who reflects the prayers of one person in the direction of another.
I was, some time ago, in a gift shop in Cape Cod looking for the right present for a lady who had invited my wife and me to visit her in Nova Scotia. I was attracted to a porcelain music box adorned with an elegant blue jay. It seemed to be just the right gift. Music had special significance for our hostess, blue was her favorite color, and the blue jay had an important connection in her life with Toronto’s baseball team.
I turned the key of the music box and listened to the song that emerged in its mechanical unwinding. It was True Love, the song that Bing Crosby sang to Grace Kelly in the motion picture High Society. A doubt crept across my mind. Perhaps this is too inappropriately romantic a gift to present to my friend. She might get the wrong impression. I decided to pray for a sign.
God’s response was swift. The store radio began playing none other than True Love. And if I had any lingering doubts, they were dispelled by a saleswoman who was cheerfully humming the song as she walked past me. As it turned out, the gift was well received and was, indeed, the perfect present. It also gave me a good story to relate.
God does speak to us. We must be eager to listen to Him. Radio signals are constantly coursing through the air. But none will be picked up if the radio is not turned on. We need to tune into God’s frequency. And God’s response arrives free of cost. On that encouraging note, Mark Twain once quipped that, “I do not know of a single foreign product that enters this country untaxed except the answer to prayer.”
In his book, Prayer, the distinguished theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar expresses God’s invitation to be united with Him by the use of three arresting metaphors: “It is like a rope-ladder thrown down to us in danger of drowning, so that we can climb into the ship; or, a carpet unrolled before us leading to the Father’s throne; a torch shining in the darkness of a silent and sullen world, in whose light we are no longer harassed by problems, but learn to live with them.”
Poetry is an important vehicle in the language of theology. Prayer is our response to God’s goodness and the initiatives He has made to enlist us in His friendship. Prayer reverses God’s “thunder” with a thunder of our own. And when thunder meets thunder, to continue this meteorological image, there is always illumination.

+    +    +

(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)

Share Button

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Video: Biological males can stay overnight with female, but parents can’t be told, school officials say

NewsGenderThu Aug 25, 2016 – 2:22 pm EST ANNAPOLIS, MD, August 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Maryland school district will allow members of one biological sex to sleep in the bedrooms of the opposite sex during school activities – and…Continue Reading

Two Catholic nuns found murdered in Mississippi home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found murdered in their home Thursday, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, according to officials. The nuns were identified as…Continue Reading

Life isn’t black and white – teach priests to discern the gray, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 25, 2016 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a conversation with members of the Jesuit order from Poland, Pope Francis said the real life situations of everyday Catholics aren’t black and white, but rather vary on a…Continue Reading

Vatican newspaper article: Pope’s apostolic exhortation is magisterial teaching

August 24, 2016 Writing in the Vatican newspaper, a Spanish ecclesiology professor said that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is part of the non-definitive ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff to which the faithful owe religious submission of intellect…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit

August 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros – one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors – paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing]…Continue Reading

Catholic school faculty member sues school after she’s fired for being gay

A lesbian teacher was fired from Paramus Catholic High School after administrators learned that she was married to a woman, according to her lawsuit. Kate Drumgoole, 33, was the school’s head basketball coach and dean of guidance when the school…Continue Reading

Scottish Catholic Church denies supporting ‘mandatory’ LGBT activist school program

GLASGOW, Scotland, August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church in Scotland is flatly denying that it is lending its support to advancing a pro-homosexual curriculum in Catholic schools, despite secular as well as gay news sources claiming the opposite.…Continue Reading

Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms

target

NewsGenderThu Aug 18, 2016 – 2:57 pm EST Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms  #flushtarget , bathroom bills , target , transgender , transgenderism MINNEAPOLIS, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Facing…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it’s official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages. Ever since Bloomsbury merged (“bought out?”) T & T Clark, they have been…Continue Reading

Transgender Bathroom Access Extended to All Federal Buildings–Including Prisons

The Obama administration is set to unveil a new regulation this week that will expand transgender people’s access to restrooms consistent with their “gender identity” to thousands of federal buildings and facilities across the country — including prisons. Buzzfeed News…Continue Reading

Satanic ‘Black Mass’ held in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A small group attended an event held by a satanic church in Oklahoma City Monday night. The ‘black mass’ was met with Christian masses and prayer rallies. Leaders of Oklahoma City’s Church of Ahriman set the…Continue Reading

Uplifting Story . . . Gymnast Simone Biles soars to Olympic gold while grounded in Catholic faith

olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When three-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, the 19-year-old carried a rosary her mother gave her and a St. Sebastian medal from…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

St John the Baptist: a model for our time

(Vatican Radio) Monday, August 29th, the Church remembers the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist (cf. Mk 6:17-29). For centuries, St. John the Baptist served as the principal model of Christian manhood, and Pope Francis has called the great prophet and precursor of the Lord a model for Christians also today. The Director of Vatican Radio’s English for India service, Fr. Melwin Pinto, SJ, shared with us some reflections on the enduring importance of St.…Continue Reading

For David Daleiden, Soros money shows Planned Parenthood in a panic

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2016 / 10:55 am (CNA).- A leaked grant report from the Open Societies Foundation seems to show Planned Parenthood and its allies in a panicked effort to raise millions of dollars to counter a series of investigative videos alleging the abortion provider broke the law. For undercover journalist David Daleiden, it’s a sign of hope. “It shows that the issue of selling baby body parts for profit is an issue that…Continue Reading

Meeting Point Sex Ed Program Not Ready for Catholic Schools

The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People (http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/) is a high school-level sex education program developed by “a group of married couples in Spain,” supported by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and released online by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in July 2016.  It is intended for use in Catholic high schools, parishes and homes. Although The Cardinal Newman Society does not formally review educational materials, we have taken a…Continue Reading

Why this diocese is ditching Common Core for liberal arts

Marquette, Mich., Aug 24, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Marquette in Michigan says it is already experiencing success in their process of adopting a Catholic liberal arts curriculum for all its schools, rather than using Common Core State Standards. The schools in the diocese previously had no set curriculum. The adoption of a classical curriculum comes at a time when two bills that would repeal and replace the Common Core State

Baton Rouge Establishes Special Flood Victims Fund

By KATHLEEN NAAB The Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., is welcoming assistance as so many thousands of people have lost homes or property and many have been killed in the massive flooding affecting the state. “The historic flooding that has taken place has impacted nearly every corner of our diocese, and our parishes and schools are struggling to recover in an effort to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of their parishioners and students,”…Continue Reading

France… Summer Of Terror Lingers

By JOHN J. METLZER PARIS — Imagine for a moment arriving at Sunday morning Mass only to see the doors of the church guarded by camouflage-clad soldiers with automatic weapons. Well, this was the stark reality when we arrived at our neighborhood church, a structure dating from the 15th century, but hardly a tourist nexus.…Continue Reading

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “I did it my way,” crooned Sinatra. Donald Trump is echoing Ol’ Blue Eyes with the latest additions to his staff. Should he lose, he prefers to go down to defeat as Donald Trump, and not as some synthetic creation of campaign consultants. “I am who I am,” Trump told a…Continue Reading

Government: New 700,000-Word Regulation Is Good For You

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The nine-second video of two federal bureaucrats the White House posted on its blog the past week was notable for something it omitted. That something was very big — and putting it on display might not have fit with the apparent propaganda purpose of the video. The video itself starred EPA…Continue Reading

With Different U.S. Policies… Imagine The Possibilities In Africa

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He and Brian Clowes, HLI’s director of research and training, recently went on a pro-life mission to Tanzania; see the article on the front page of The Wanderer, August 18, 2016. In the article below, Fr. Boquet thanks all…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… “The Expense Is Reckoned, The Enterprise Is Begun; It Is Of God”

By JAMES MONTI The recent slaughter in odium fidei of the 85-year-old French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel on July 26 shortly after two terrorists stormed into the church where he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a vivid manifestation that the price for being a faithful Catholic has been rapidly escalating of…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Turning Together Toward The Lord

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The closed circle of therapeutic navel-gazing hangs on like an overused joke in a few places yet, one of them being the Church. The priest and people facing each other during the entire liturgy is a vestige of the illegitimate seizure by and subjection of 2,000-year-old liturgical development to the rash agenda of primitivist vandals…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . The Four Senses Of Sacred Scripture

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 15 Since the first heresies attacked the early Church, and all the way up to Luther and to the ecclesiastical dissenters of our days, Bible interpretation has been a source of division. Ever since the Devil concocted the idea that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet could interpret the Bible allegedly by the “light of the…Continue Reading

The Mystagogy Of The Celebration Of Baptism

By DON FIER The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River marked a turning-point in His life. Having lived in a hidden manner in obedience to Mary and Joseph for thirty years (see Luke 2:51), our Lord now began His public ministry by freely submitting to the penitential baptism of St. John the Baptist. Although unblemished by sin and in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Can you possibly provide the name and e-mail address of the bishop of the “renowned” Catholic Vice President Joe Biden? This latest mockery of his faith — officiating at the “marriage” of two men — cries for some type of action from the shepherd of his flock. I would like to be able to communicate my concern to the…Continue Reading

Prepare For Eternal Life

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b Phmn. 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33 In the first reading the question is asked about who can know God’s counsel or conceive what the Lord intends. We know that God’s ways are not our ways; we know that God looks into the heart while we look at…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1605 Fr. Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit priest, arrived in India to evangelize the people. He found them to have a noble bearing and a deeply spiritual life filled with fasting, prayer, and meditation. Difficulties presented themselves to him as he struggled to convert them: “If these people did not see me do such penance, they…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading