Prayers for Presence: Incarnation

There was a story on NPR about the Belgium town, Geel. Saint Dymphna, the patron saint of the mentally ill was supposedly martyred in Geel. And in the 1300s a church was built around her remains. And in time, that church became a pilgrimage site for people seeking a cure for mental ailments. Townspeople allowed those pilgrims to stay with them.  The tradition stuck. The mentally ill eventually moved into houses with residents. By the 1930s, a quarter of the town was mentally ill. Continue reading “Prayers for Presence: Incarnation”

Pray for Me: Why?

Leon was the kind of guy who had never been interested in religions. As a reasonable man, he considered faith to be irrational and damaging. Yet, one day a friend of Leon’s was walking past a small church in the heart of the city and happened to look in. To his amazement, he saw Leon kneeling before some candles and mumbling a prayer. Leon had recently fallen upon hard times, so his friend guessed that this must be the reason for his newfound religiosity. But something seemed amiss, so he entered the church and approached Leon. The sanctuary was dark and almost empty. Sure enough, there was Leon, crouched on the floor, reciting a religious incantation at the foot of the altar. Upon getting closer, his friend realized that Leon was reciting an old folk prayer that was believed by many to bring wealth and health to those who would recite it daily. His friend was amazed and interrupted Leon, saying, “I thought you didn’t believe in such superstitious nonsense. Do you really think that this prayer works?” In reply, Leon looked up and angrily proclaimed, “Of course I don’t believe it works, what kind of idiot do you take me for?” “Then why are you reciting it?” said his friend, in shock. “Ah,” replied Leon, “it is because the priest informed me that this prayer works even if you don’t believe in it.” (Parable by Peter Rollins). Continue reading “Pray for Me: Why?”