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Friday, September 07, 2012

Prayer or performance?

I saw in the news that UK Catholics are being asked by Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel and Brighton and chair of the Church's evangelisation committee, to make a regularly scheduled public performance of praying ...

[...] He said: “I would like to invite every Catholic, especially during the Year of Faith, to pause for a moment of prayer of praise and thanksgiving at 3pm if possible, or perhaps when you break for lunch, on the first Friday of every month.

“Whatever you are doing, as your responsibilities allow, stop, perhaps close your eyes, bow your head and prayerfully and silently meditate on the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross out of love for you and everyone.

“You might even want to set your mobile phone to ring at 2.55pm to remind you to pause for prayer.”

He added: "The exact words used are not so important as just pausing to be with Jesus in that moment. In this way you are not only deepening your relationship with him, but quietly and confidently witnessing to your faith to those around you."

Oh, I get what's driving this - the UK Church wants to push back because of the argument over wearing crosses at work. But I believe this is a bad idea.

I really doubt that, in a country where people are apparently threatened simply by others wearing religious symbols, many non-Catholics will be won over to Catholicism through this orchestrated action. Maybe the best kind of evangelization is done by individuals being good examples to others through how they live their lives. What's being suggested by the bishop seems instead to have the goal of confrontation.

And besides, what the bishop is proposing uses prayer as a means to a political end, when it should be an end in itself. I know my fellow Catholics hate what they call proof-texting ;) but but this all reminds me of Matthew 6:5-6.


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