Reggae and the Image of God

June 17, 2009

I picked up Matisyahu’s Youth reggae CD the other day. A friend had introduced me to his music a couple of years ago but it didn’t take hold until this past spring when I touched on Hasidic Judaism in my world religions class.

While teaching Orthodox and Hasidic Judaism, I found myself drawn to their life of community and prayer – joking with my wife that if I ever became Jewish, we’d have to move to a major city with a large Orthodox Jewish population. The idea that Jewish men are called to prayer three times a day as a matter of maintaining their faith drew my attention in a way similar to that of the monastery – a life of communal and regulated prayer.

Sure, within Catholicism we have the liturgy of the hours, rosary, chaplet, novenas, and endless other methods of prayer, but are any required for assuming the faith? And are communities prevalent or even existent outside of the liturgy? Sacrosancum Concilium (#12) notes first that the spiritual life is not limited to participation in the liturgy. This statement is immediately followed by the assertion that the Christian is called to pray with his brethren, then mentioning secret prayer to the Father.

Boom. Okay, when was the last time you prayed with your brethren outside of the liturgy? Last night at dinner doesn’t count. Your spouse is a good start. Beyond that?

Is there a reason why Catholics have little or no communal life? It’s easy to settle into the idea that Catholic community is like-minded people that sit next to you in mass – maybe even asking for a prayer or two. But praying with? Gathering for the purpose of prayer?

Politically, I imagine how the founding fathers would react to the state of our country today. Religiously, I can’t bring myself to imagine the reaction of St. Paul upon hearing of the lack of everyday Catholic community. Probably a lot of yelling. Then tears.

Spiritually, we need one another. God exists in community (ala Trinity) and made us in His image. Limiting our prayer lives to one-on-one with God does not reflect the condition in which we were designed. It’s like eating breakfast for every meal; good in and of itself, but not exactly what I’d call balance.

Maybe it’s time to start a balance.

Exit thought: On one hand, healthy and regular prayer is helpful because then I don’t have to worry about enough prayer… which allows me to worry about other things. On the other hand, if I worried about prayer like I should, perhaps I wouldn’t be worrying about anything else.


3 Responses to “Reggae and the Image of God”

  1. Theoketos said

    I think that last night at dinner defiantly counts.

  2. DrewbieDoo said

    Let me clarify – last night at dinner doesn't count as a prayer life. Yes, it counts as prayer, but I'd say it's scraping the bottom of the barrel as communal prayer.

  3. Anonymous said

    Taking time to pray regularly with a group does make a difference in one's life…growth with and toward God might be one of the 1st fruits…starting with…"wherever 2 or more are gathered in my name…" Get started! "The Old Lady!"

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