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Aubrey Portwood

Buddhist On Prayer and Mass

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I just got back from Mass with Ashley at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and while reading the pamphlet they give you, I noticed a section for Non-Christians on what they should do during Holy Communion. It said something to the effect of, “Though we cannot administer communion, we encourage our bothers and sisters to pray for union and peace for the world.” During the usual prayers given towards the Pope, sick, etc, (Prayers of the Faithful) I found myself being more in sync with prayer than I ever had been before.

I’ve always had a bit of a compatibility problem with prayer. I’ve never really considered myself a person of prayer, since, of course, I don’t believe that there is a being listening and answering those prayers, so I’ve never really prayed. I spend most of my time at Mass being mindful of similarities, where before I was very focused on differences between my beliefs and others’. I used to look at the problems I had from the point of view of the differences, where now I’ve grown to look towards similarities, compatibility, and joined efforts of the human race. I have found there are always more similarities than differences and that similarities are more important towards personal growth than bickering at differences.

Yet, I have never really joined in on prayer, or been a prayerful person. But, I think that might be changing. Today at Mass, I was especially mindful of prayer and sought to be as insightful as I could be. After really thinking about it, and upon hearing the Prayers of the Faithful, if you’re praying correctly (Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Whatever…), prayer is nothing more than an act of inward compassion. Usually you pray for people to be protected, your loved ones to be safe, and sometimes even things to be okay for yourself, like getting out of depression or a hard situation you are in. But, usually these words or intentions are accompanied by some genuine compassion for someone else. Whether you believe God is listening, or you believe compassion is valuable thing to have inwardly, it’s all really comes down to one thing: compassion.

This is, at least, how I think I will take on my own prayer practice going forward: a practice of building compassion for others and joining others in the same pursuit.