Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester David offers his prayer and reflection for the people of the Archdiocese of Cape Town for today, Friday 10 September 2021, during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. It is also available on the Archdiocese of Cape Town’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. Please also see below the text of his reflection, primarily for the deaf.
10 September 2021. Our union with God.
Recently we have been praying for peace in Southern Africa. We must continue to do that but at this time I wish to pray for the fruitfulness of the upcoming Synod.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
And you will renew the face of the earth.
Father, pour out your Spirit upon our your Church
And grant us a new vision of your glory,
A new experience of your power,
A new faithfulness to your Word,
And a new consecration to your service
So that your love may grow among us,
And your kingdom come.
Through Christ our Lord.
Our union with God
Our hymn for morning prayer a few days ago concluded with this stanza:
“Blest Trinity we praise you
In whom our quest will cease;
Keep us with you for ever
In happiness and peace.”
These words stayed with me for a few days and I kept repeating them. “Blest Trinity we praise you in whom our quest will cease;…” These words speak of union with God. Our quest will cease when we are enveloped by the Divinity. Imagine that – being enfolded by the arms of God himself. St Augustine noted that are hearts are restless until they rest in God. St Eugene de Mazenod, the Founder of the Oblates expressed a similar notion. The saints had a deep awareness that God is the destiny of every faith journey.
The Trinity whom the hymn addresses embodies the deepest meaning of union – and this union is never self-centred. There is a continuous openness to the others. The Holy Spirit will always recall the words of Jesus for us (Jn 14:26), Jesus continually invites us to have intimacy with the Father (Jn 17:3; 17:21 and Mt 11:27), and the Father will breathe the Spirit on us (Job 32:8; Ezek 37:5-6)). This is what the divine union is all about – each person of the Trinity pointing to the others. This is the model for all our unions and for all true intimacy – and this is the reality “in whom our quest will cease”. This is when completion is at its most satisfying.
If we examine the liturgy and other forms of prayer in the Church we will note that all our prayers are intended to achieve union with the divine. Jesus’ teaching on prayer moves in this direction. Prayer is more than saying many words in public. It is more about listening intimately to the Father in private (Mt 6:5-6). Jesus himself practiced this type of prayer often (Lk 9:18; Mk 1:35; Mk 14:32-42). In this last reference to his prayer at Gethsemane, he also encourages his disciples to pray. So we see prayer, both liturgical prayer and private prayer, featuring prominently in the life of Jesus. The Gospel of John recounts the several trips Jesus made to the Temple for the liturgical celebrations (Jn 2:14; 5:14; 8:2; 10:23; 18:20). Lk 4:16 tells us that his presence in the synagogue on the Sabbath was his custom. Jesus practiced both liturgical prayer and private prayer. If we are to follow him, then we must pray as he did. He did, after all, want followers and not admirers.
But back to the notion of union with God. What is so astounding and incomprehensible is that God desires union with us even though we are broken and incomplete. It is this union with God that will actually bring wholeness and completeness. All we can do is make ourselves available. I wish you joy as you deepen your union with the Divine. Do not be afraid of this notion of becoming one with the Divine. This does not mean that we reduce the status of the Divine – it actually enhances our status as believers. Remember the words said when the priest or deacon adds water to the wine at Mass “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. We are made for union with God. And so to conclude: “Blest Trinity we praise you, in whom our quest will cease;…”
Let us pray: Father you constantly invite us into deeper union with you. Help us to make ourselves available so that where you are, we may also be. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Bishop Sylvester David OMI
VG/Auxiliary Bishop: Cape Town