Thursday, August 06, 2009

Carmelite and Prayer: Talk of Fr. Richard Copsey, OCarm

Last July 25, Fr. Richard Copsey gave a talk to the Carmelite Family at the Titus Brandsma Center, Quezon City.

Fr. Richard Copsey’s talk was about Carmel and Prayer. Like a former teacher that he was, he explained his topic methodically, used simple terms and related anecdotes – personal, biblical, historical - for everybody to understand his explanations.

Admitting that history was his specialization, he first touched on a little bit about the early settlers in Mt. Carmel, and what they did. He illustrated how prayer started. Those who lived at Mt. Carmel opened their hearts, listened and gazed at God in the silence of the caves of Mt. Carmel. Theirs was the prayer of quiet – a simple regard-looking or a yearning for God to come into their lives. Prayer is, therefore, choosing to live in God’s presence. This reminded me of what St. Teresa of Avila wrote about being in the presence of One Whom we know loves us. That He knows everything and we really don’t have to talk to Him too much about our concerns. Fr. Copsey added, “What God really wants is our love and attention.”

His next topic was about the problem of growing in prayer. He referred to the distractions which he defined as bright ideas that come at the wrong time. He advised us to use distractions as stepping stones to become more prayerful because they can teach us to be humble as they make us realize that we have not really gone so far in our prayer life. We can pray as a result: “I am not concentrated, God. Please accept my prayers however unconcentrated they are.”

Also, during those times when God seems to be absent and nothing seems to be happening like the “dark night” of St. John of the Cross, Fr. Copsey reminded us that we do not pray to enjoy ourselves but to praise God. If we imitate Bro. Lawrence, we could look back at the events of the day and if we offer whatever we do for God’s glory, “then at the end of our prayer we can say that we had given God something.”

Finally, Fr. Copsey explained how prayer can teach us to be less self-centered. God wants us to do something for others. “But how do we know what God wants us to do?”, he asked. “When we pray and open our hearts to God, He will speak to us and tell us what He wants us to do. We become more sensitive to the needs of the people around us and we are able to reach out and help them.” At this point, Fr. Copsey related the first miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ and the role played by the Blessed Virgin Mary in helping solve the predicament of the newly-wedded couple.

I think Fr. Copsey was talking about the mission that is given to us when we pray. His entire talk can be summarized in the following:

“Prayer makes myself present to the presence of the Lord within me so that I can make Him present and see Him present in everybody and everything around me.”

by Pat Holandez, TOCarm (Lord of Divine Mercy TOC Community)

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