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Edith Stein on Praying Alone as the Prayer of the Church | Catholic Life

Edith Stein on Praying Alone as the Prayer of the Church

The work of salvation takes place in obscurity and stillness. In the heart’s quiet dialogue with God the living building blocks out of which the kingdom of God grows are prepared, the chosen instruments for the construction forged. The mystical stream that flows through all centuries is no spurious tributary that has strayed from the prayer life of the church it is its deepest life. When this mystical stream breaks through traditional forms, it does so because the Spirit that blows where it will is living in it, this Spirit that has created all traditional forms and must ever create new ones.

Without him there would be no liturgy and no church. Was not the soul of the royal psalmist a harp whose strings resounded under the gentle breath of the Holy Spirit? From the overflowing heart of the Virgin Mary blessed by God streamed the exultant hymn of the “Magnificat.” When the angel’s mysterious word became visible reality, the prophetic “Benedictus” hymn unsealed the lips of the old priest Zechariah, who had been struck dumb. Whatever arose from spirit-filled hearts found expression in words and melodies and continues to be communicated from mouth to mouth. The “Divine Office” is to see that it continues to resound from generation to generation. So the mystical stream forms the many- voiced, continually swelling hymn of praise to the triune God, the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Perfecter.

Therefore, it is not a question of placing the inner prayer free of all traditional forms as “subjective” piety over against the liturgy as the “objective” prayer of the church. All authentic prayer is prayer of the church. Through every sincere prayer something happens in the church, and it is the church itself that is praying therein, for it is the Holy Spirit living in the church that intercedes for every individual soul “with sighs too deep for words.” This is exactly what “authentic” prayer is, for “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” What could the prayer of the church be, if not great lovers giving themselves to God who is love!

Excerpted from The Hidden Life

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One Response to “Edith Stein on Praying Alone as the Prayer of the Church”

  1. Claire 04. Sep, 2010 at 6:37 pm #

    That is great that you quoted that passage. That has been one of my favorites of hers that I keep returning to once I discovered it. Very cool.

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