June 29, 2008

Retreat Notes 3: Consumerism

To be consoled or encouraged in the experience of prayer is great, e.g. by the gifts of feeling peaceful, feeling an experience of God, feeling a sensible faith, etc.

But the danger is to come to expect these things, or worse, to pray in order to get these feelings. At that point, since we've descended to the level of "what do I get out of it," we're spiritually safer just going to Target instead of praying. That is to say we're better off admitting our consumerism instead of indulging it with a greed for spiritual "experiences."

The goal needs to be faithfulness to prayer without encouragement from the experience itself, perhaps without even an "experience of God," whatever that means. And then, coming away from prayer, we need to careful not to fill our lack of consolation with the first indulgence that presents itself. The world is all too happy to find us in this condition, and has made any number of cheap substitutes for spiritual consolation readily available.

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