Theology Needs Prayer

The following quotation from a collection of meditations by Benedict XVI was also well-received by the Sailor. Theology needs prayer. Theology needs the experience of God. So you can't just teach theology . . . or doctrine . . . or religion . . . or scripture. You must afford youth the time and opportunity to pray. And you must give them the tools to pray as best you can.

"Where there is no relationship with God, there can be no understanding of him who, in his innermost self, is nothing but relationship with God, the Father—although one can doubtless establish plenty of details about him. Therefore a participation in the mind of Jesus, i.e. in his prayer, which (as we have seen) is an act of love, of self-giving and self-expropriation to men, is not some kind of pious supplement to reading the Gospels, adding nothing to knowledge of him or even being an obstacle to the rigorous purity of critical knowing. On the contrary, it is the basic precondition if real understanding, in the sense of modern hermeneutics, i.e. the entering-in to the same time and the same meaning—is to take place.

"The New Testament continually reveals this state of affairs and thus provides the foundation for a theological epistemology. Here is simply one example: when Ananias was sent to Paul to receive him into the Church, he was reluctant and suspicious of Paul; the reason given to him was this: go to him “for he is praying” (Acts 9:11). In prayer, Paul is moving toward the moment when he will be freed from blindness and will begin to see, not only exteriorly, but interiorly as well. The person who prays begins to see; praying and seeing go together because—as Richard of St. Victor says—“Love is the faculty of seeing.” Real advances in Christology, therefore, can never come merely as the result of the theology of the schools, and that includes the modern theology as we find it in critical exegesis, in the history of doctrine and in an anthropology oriented toward the human sciences, etc. All this is important, as important as schools are. But it is insufficient. It must be complemented by the theology of the saints, which is theology from experience. All real progress in theological understanding has its origin in the eye of love and in its faculty of beholding.
--Benedict XVI, Behold the Pierced One, trans. Graham Harrison (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), 26-27.



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