Desire for the Divine

Picture of Patrick Corbett CSsR

Patrick Corbett CSsR

Father Pat is a Redemptorist priest and writer

In this is this second article in the series on Prayer, we are responding to the Apostles’ cry: Lord, teach us to pray!


We continue to pray with St Augustine: ‘Late, have I loved you O beauty so ancient and so new, Late, have I loved you.’


O beauty so ancient! Our hearts were made for you. We have come from God and are returning to God. An ancient Jewish psalm captures this:

For me, the reward is to see your Face and on waking, to be filled with your peace. Psalm 17:15


Prayer invites us to meet this Beauty so Ancient. ‘So Ancient’, we are touching here the deep mystery of God’s eternal existence. O Beauty so Ancient!  Was God totally invisible before the universe began? Why did God create at all? What was God’s purpose in creating?


Our simple answer: God is love and the world is an expression of that love. God so loved the world…this is the love I mean not our love for God, but God’s love for us. (1 Jn 4:10)


In prayer, we are caught up in that eternal love. It is a deep mystery that the eternal God is listening and waiting for our prayer! Long before we decide to pray, God is there waiting, listening… Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. (Jn. 1:1) speaks of this mystery: Ask and will receive seek you will find, knock and the door will be opened. (Lk.11:9)


Our world is itself ancient. Scientists venture to say the universe is some 14 billion years old and our planet around 4.5 billion! O beauty so ancient!


When I see the heavens, the work of your hands

The moon and stars which you arranged who are we that you should keep us in mind Mortals that you care for us. Psalm 8


 Our first nations peoples are among the oldest continuous culture on this planet. Addressing our First Peoples in Uluru in 1986, Pope John Paul ll acknowledged their antiquity – new excavations and improved dating techniques tell us they have been in this land for at least 40 thousand years! The Pope reminded us: ‘there is within all of us a Desire for the divine’.


‘At the beginning of time, as God’s Spirit moved over the waters, God began to communicate …goodness and beauty to all creation… And, to all human beings throughout the ages, God has given a desire for the divinefor thousands of years, you have lived in this land and fashioned a culture that endures to this day. And during all this time, the Spirit of God has been with you. Your ‘Dreaming’(which influences your lives so strongly that… you remain forever people of your culture), is your only way of touching the mystery of God’s Spirit in you and in creation. You must keep your striving for God and hold on to it in your lives …


Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr (AO), an Aboriginal elder from Nauiyu (Daly River) speaks to us about her culture and how God has communicated goodness and beauty to all creation. A renowned artist and poet, Miriam-Rose writes about prayer using the Aboriginal word ‘Dadirri – Inner Deep Listening and Quiet Still Awareness’.

To breathe with me is to listen deeply … to listen deeply is to connect.

It is the sound, the sound of deep calling to deep.

Dadirri is the deep inner spring inside us.                                                                        We call on it and it calls on us.  


Prayer invites us into this stillness. I encourage you to let ‘stillness’ be part of your prayer, and to begin any prayer time by becoming aware of your breath. ‘To breathe with me is to listen deeply …


Prayer can be as simple as breathing! Then, in the quiet rhythm of the breath, to allow the words of St Augustine or, indeed, any words of scripture, to become one with your breathing …


O beauty so ancient and so new.

You called and cried to me and broke open my deafness:

and you sent forth your beams and shone upon me

and chased away my blindness:

you breathed fragrance upon me,

and I drew in my breath and do now pant for you:

I tasted you, and now hunger and thirst for you:

you touched me, and I have burned for your peace.


This is the second article in a series about Prayer by Father Pat Corbett CSsR.


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