Madonna House

Walking on the Water

by Catherine Doherty

“I am the light of the world,” said Christ (John 9:5). Since he has come, we are no longer living in the shadow of death. We can live in light. But light is only light in contrast to darkness. Without darkness, we would not know the light.

God allows us to enter the darkness because he intensely desires that we identify with him who took on himself the darkness of sin.

In the darkness, we experience our helplessness and powerlessness. In the darkness, we are blind. Now God can heal us.

The act of faith takes place in darkness, where intellect cannot penetrate. When we enter this darkness of faith, the light eventually bursts in, but not right away. First, God says, “If you believe in me, come. Walk on the water.”

The apostles were dumbfounded when they saw Jesus coming toward them on the water. Peter started toward him but began to sink because he lost faith (Matthew 14:22–33).

Most of us are too filled with fear to even start out. In St. John’s Gospel it says,Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). We are so fearful that we cannot even imagine that kind of love.

There is a story of a child in a burning house. His father is outside calling to him, “Jump! Jump!”

“Daddy,” the child cries, “I can’t see you!”

“That’s okay,” the father says, “I can see you.”

In our technological age, we want to see where we are jumping. We want to see not only the father whose arms are stretched out to catch us but also the earth beneath our feet.

We want everything sorted out and in order. We are afraid to walk into what seems chaos to us. It is really perfect order, but we cannot see that. We want to say to God, “Let’s get organized.”

But God refuses to organize himself to our standards. We cannot manipulate him—but oh, how we try!

Meanwhile, the world cries out in agony. It cries out for salvation. Humanity may not know to whom it is praying, or whence help will come, but still it cries out.

Jesus is the one who saves, and Christians are called to love mankind and to assuage its pain. How can they help?

How can they bring so many millions to true life? How can they bring justice and mercy to a twisted, needy world? Only by the power of God.

Christ has said, “Cut off from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), but if we are one with him in prayer, we can do everything.

The answer to our modern problems, whatever they are, is to turn toward God with lifted hands, moved by love, trusting in his promises and mercy.

There is no other answer. If one stands in intercession with uplifted hands, as Moses did, then the miracle of God’s action will take place (cf Exodus 17:11).

It seems strange, but the prostration of prayer, the dance of prayer, the rock-stillness of prayer, or whatever form prayer may take, floods the whole world with action. He who turns his face to God in prayer is in the eye of the hurricane, the eye of action.

Somehow, the miracle takes place. Man remains on the mountain before God (Exodus 32:11–14); at the same time, by the power of his prayer, it is as if he walks the earth with his towel and his water (John 13:1–5). When we pray, we have accepted Christ’s invitation.

Not only did he say, Cut off from me you can do nothing (John 15:5), but he went on to add, If you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask what you will and you will get it (John 15:5,7).

We must lead each other to the top of the mountain to pray, because prayer is dynamic and holy. It is contact with God and union with him.

As a person grows in union with God, he comes to know that prayer includes all righteousness and from prayer stems all the goodness that God wants to bestow on mankind.

Prayer is a person moved by his whole being to communicate with the living God, to respond to God’s love.

Prayer is this response that takes a thousand postures, from standing with arms uplifted in supplication to full prostration.

Prayer is the movement of a dancer, and prayer is the stone-like stillness of a person utterly immobile, lost in regions that few enter.

Prayer is the bubbling brook of a child or the quivering words of an old person. Prayer is the words of men, women, and children who know God and easily talk to him. These words change into beautiful songs when they reach God.

People recite the rosary. They pray for all their relatives and all the needs of the world, vocally, simply, in a childlike way. Even when they sleep, their hearts watch for the Lord.

When they pray, when they worship God, they are caught up in something greater than themselves, something cosmic. The whole universe bows in adoration to God, and those who love him join in that adoration.

God is the only way. He is the only answer. And the only way to lead people to God is to teach them prayer and to pray for them.

 

—Adapted from Soul of My Soul, (2006), pp. 75-77, available from MH Publications