Just how casual can I be when I talk to God?
This question occurred to me just now. The liturgy is full of formal prayers that provide the gold standard for the way to address God in public gatherings, but when one is addressing Him one to one, is such formality necessary?
I looked to the Gospels for answers. God first came to us as a baby, the most welcome, and welcoming of all human forms. When he grew up, he adopted the most humble of miens, a wandering teacher, homeless, penniless, familiar with sorrow: a hobo.
He pointedly hung out with the bilge and dregs of society, scorning those rulers and the rich who were unable to come down to His level of Love.
St Ignatius of Loyola in his Spiritual Exercises labours the usefulness of our powers of imagination in thinking of God. He asks us to imagine being a bystander at various points in Jesus’s life: at the Nativity, at the Sermon on the Mount, or at the Crucifixion, for instance.
The human imagination is a powerful gift, and we all have it in varying degrees. From it all creative thought, and its consequences derive. By putting ourselves into the Gospel narrative, we “risk” being changed by insights and experiences gained there. The other thing we “risk” gaining is familiarity with Christ Himself.
When we have received the Grace of realising our own lowliness and wretchedness, it is good to be familiar with Him. The people He was closest to on earth were the lowly and wretched, and it is not too much to suppose that He will be close to us even now, in our honestly admitted iniquity.
This Christmas, put yourself there in the stable, but in a lowly place. (You can be a fly on the wall if you want to!) Realise that that wee Babe has arrived there to save you and me and everyone else from a merely temporal and meaningless existence.
That Babe has bought us all eternal life.
Yes, I dare you to be familiar, with Him!