'A Society Without God Ends Up as a Society Against Man'
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Interview With Father Ignacio Larranaga on Prayer
MADRID, Spain, OCT. 25, 2005 (Zenit) - A big part of Father Ignacio Larranaga's work has been trying to teach people how to pray.
Born in Spain in 1928, he was ordained in 1952. For a time he evangelized in South America. In 1974 he began the apostolate of Meetings of Experience of God, which he taught in 33 countries over 30 years. In 1984 he founded the Prayer and Life Workshops, an ecclesial service approved by the Holy See and covering more than 40 countries.
He has now published the book "God Within," a manual for prayer.
Q: In "God Within" you talk about "adult faith." Is there a process of maturation in the faith?
Father Larranaga: Of course, the overcoming of a faith that is too rational or centered on the search for securities, [leading to] a faith capable of assuming all kind of risks and fears -- that faith which enabled Abraham to walk in the presence of the Lord, which ended up by becoming the inspiration, center and meaning of his life.
Q: Does life without God have meaning?
Father Larranaga: We are infinite wells that infinite finites will never be able to fill. Only the infinite can satiate an infinite well. Modern culture has displaced God from the center of life, a center which has been taken over by the ego.
The consequences? Lack of solidarity; permissive morality; nothing has meaning; no one is worthwhile; the advent of nihilism, the consequence of which is an infinite void that threatens to asphyxiate humanity. And the end is suicide. A society without God ends up as a society against man.
Q: You say that what most disconcerts man is God's silence. Is prayer the best way to be "in tune" with him?
Father Larranaga: Prayer is a way of establishing an affective current with a You, so that two presences previously known and loved make themselves mutually present, and that current is established by giving and receiving, by loving and feeling loved in the silence of the heart, in faith, in love.
Q: Can one learn how to pray?
Father Larranaga: Prayer is a gift of God, and God's first gift. But it is also an art, as it is the convergence of grace and nature. And, as art, it is subject to the norms of learning and other psychological laws. To pray well, therefore, one needs method and discipline.
Q: Is it easy to pray?
Father Larranaga: To pray an Our Father or Hail Mary is easy. However, if it is a question of concentrating one's mental energies on a You, in the silence of the heart, in faith, in love ... to pray is not easy.
One must calm one's nerves, let go one's tensions, silence interior clamor, and, in the final solitude of one's being, accept the infinite mystery of God and adore! That's not easy.
Q: "He who feels loved by God knows not fear," you say in "God Within." In our fear-ridden society, does prayer liberate? Does relating to God and experiencing him do away with our fear definitively?
Father Larranaga: To live profoundly the loving and powerful presence of God, to experience his tenderness in all its depth, to live abandoned and full of confidence in his hands ... all this uproots inexorably and forever the apprehensions and fears of the heart. And they are replaced by peace.
Q: People complain that they "pray and don't change."
Father Larranaga: One must ask if by praying they are as they would be if they didn't pray. People make constant efforts to be patient, but no one sees it. How many silent successes there are without any one having noticed them! One cannot say so lightly, they "pray and don't change."
Q: Did Christ also revolutionize prayer?
Father Larranaga: Jesus called God "Abba," "dear Daddy," and he said: "When you pray, go into your room, shut the door and pray to your Father, who is there alone with you."
And he also said: "Worship the Father not on this mountain, or on Mount Sinai, or in this or that temple, but in spirit and truth." There is no greater revolution.
Q: What are the Prayer and Life Workshops?
Father Larranaga: They are a method of new evangelization in which one exercises friendship with the Lord, a radical process of purification and pacification takes place, and one undertakes the path to holiness, imitating Christ.
Q: What are the keys to realize a profound and fruitful prayer?
Father Larranaga: To persevere in patience, in pure naked faith. To remain alone with God in loving and peaceful attention, in calm and quiet. God will do the rest.
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