By Manuel de la Barreda Mingot, Madrid, Spain •
Often when we pray, we are overcome with worry, sometimes motivated by curiosity, and at other times from laziness itself in thinking that it is the same whether I pray in my room, in my Home Shrine, in front of the Tabernacle, at Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or even after receiving Holy Communion. The concern is that if God is everywhere what does it matter where and how I pray?
The question is certainly logical, and it is often responded to without having a clear answer, but convinced that no – it is not the same to pray in all the places described earlier – but yes, God is everywhere. Somehow we feel it, but we are not capable of formulating a logical response that will be of value to a non-believer.
Prayer in times of WhatsApp, SMS, and Mail
Today I am going to dare making a technological similarity in trying to respond to this question. I am going to compare prayer with prayer in my room: I make the equivalence with communication by messages, whether by cellphones, WhatsApp, SMS or even mail. God is in contact with you and you with Him. You can tell Him everything you feel, and He responds to you. He is on the other side of the keyboard and you are confident that you can always count on Him.
Home Shrine: a telephone call
Prayer in my Home Shrine: we advance a bit. The place is not just any ordinary place. We have conquered it, strived for it, and blessed it so that Blessed Mother, the shortest route to God, can install herself in my home. The equivalent technology is the telephone call. Communication is more direct. It is not only in the exchange of information, but upon listening to the voice of the other person, you begin to perceive how the person is and feels with the changes in intonation of the voice that enhance communication and the nuances of words increase the unity, the contact.
Prayer before the Tabernacle: Here is the connection; the level of communication increases. A great deal more information is exchanged. The perception of God is more direct and the nuances and shared feelings increase. It is a videoconference or Skype. You not only hear the other person— you see the person. They say the face is the mirror of the soul, and He shows His face to you as you do to Him. Pretense is less since the emotions and feelings are shared unconsciously but more truthfully.
Eucharistic adoration: real presence
Eucharistic adoration: God’s presence before you is real. You do not see Him through anything, but He is before you; you are seeing Him in person but through a grille. It is like when you visit cloistered religious, or like when our grandparents “watched us.” Now you can “touch” Him, you can feel his warmth, you can caress Him through the grille, and He can do the same to you. It is a “physical” contact. He no longer has to call you or contact you. It no longer depends on the quality of the connection. He is before you, yes oh yes! And even if you look elsewhere, even if you are distracted, He does not leave. He continues by your side.
Eucharistic Communion: embrace
Eucharistic Communion: It is the embrace, the intimate embrace. The perfect union. We embrace each other. There is no longer anything to hide; it cannot happen. What I am and what I have can be seen; it is surrendered. The most profound secrets are shared without concealment, the joys, the sorrows, everything.
God is always there. He is waiting, whether by the keyboard, at the other end of the line, or in person. Prayer is always contact with Him. He gives himself, and we can give ourselves profoundly, very sincerely in whichever forms, but for us “I love you” to the beloved through a keyboard is not the same as an embrace. Why? I do not know exactly, but for sure it is not the same to pray wherever as it is at Eucharistic Communion, and that is because God loves us much more than what we can love, and, therefore, the barriers for Him do not exist. Therefore it is so important to take Holy Communion to the sick.
Like any comparison of something earthly to something divine, it is questionable. I do not pretend to be dogmatic, but to try to help and understand us and to approach God in the best way possible.